We see it every year. Popularity trumps results. Past performances trump current production. Under-the-radar stars are ignored.
This year is no different. With the MLB releasing its final update on the AL voting and NL voting earlier in the week, fans got a chance to see the likely starters and likely snubs this season. Here, we'll be concerned with the latter.
Are these guys well-established superstars? No. Are they some of the best players in the game this year?
Jose Altuve, 2B, Houston Astros
It's pretty ridiculous that Jose Altuve is fourth on the ballot for American League second basemen. He leads the league in batting average, hits and stolen bases—all by a comfortable margin. He barely strikes out, and he was fantastic in June, as ESPN Stats & Information passes along:
Astros 2B Jose Altuve hit .411 in June. He had 39 base hits, swung and missed at only 18 pitches— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 1, 2014
Sure, the players ahead of Altuve in the voting—Robinson Cano, Ian Kinsler and Brian Dozier—are all having nice seasons, but Altuve has been superb.
His manager knows it.
"He's the best player in baseball," manager Bo Porter told Bob Nightengale of USA Today. "It's not just his numbers, but the impact he has on the game. He's the MVP of this league."
His teammates know it, including George Springer, per Nightengale:
"The dude is unbelievable. When he's in the batter's box, everybody in the stadium knows he's going to get a hit, and he does. When he gets on base, everybody knows he's going to steal a base, and he does. He's what makes the Astros go."
The only people who don't seem to know it are the fans voting for the All-Star teams. Perhaps it's because Altuve is on a poor Houston Astros team. Perhaps it's because the 24-year-old isn't a household name yet, like Cano and Kinsler.
But he deserves to be starting the All-Star game; that much is certain.
Alexei Ramirez, SS, Chicago White Sox
The reason Alexei Ramirez is losing votes is pretty simple: Fans have favored Derek Jeter thus far, as the legendary New York Yankee is retiring this season. So in a sense, America can be forgiven for snubbing Ramirez.
And to be fair, he's a close second in the voting to the future Hall of Famer.
But make no mistake about it, Ramirez is still being snubbed. He's hitting .294 with eight home runs, 41 RBI (second among all shortstops in the American League), 42 runs and 14 stolen bases. He's committed just nine errors and has a solid .976 fielding percentage.
Slice it however you like, but at the moment, Ramirez is the best, most well-rounded shortstop in the American League. Jeter is a legend and deserves his props, no doubt, but Ramirez is the far superior player right now.
Todd Frazier, 3B, Cincinnati Reds
Let's not beat around the bush. Todd Frazier is hitting .289 with 17 home runs (first among NL third basemen), 47 RBI (third), 52 runs scored (third) and 13 stolen bases (first), while committing just six errors at the hot corner. For what it's worth, he also leads all players at the position in the National League in WAR.
And yet, Frazier was fifth—yes, fifth!—in All-Star voting at third base behind Aramis Ramirez, David Wright, Pablo Sandoval and Matt Carpenter. It's a travesty—plain and simple. He'll make the All-Star team, no doubt, but he's earned the right to start.
Jonathan Lucroy, C, Milwaukee Brewers
This is a tough one, because Jonathan Lucroy is currently being bested by Yadier Molina in All-Star voting. Molina remains the best defensive catcher in baseball, yes, and he has tossed out half of the runners who have dared a steal attempt against him.
But man alive, Lucroy is hitting the cover off the ball this year.
He's hitting a whopping .331 with eight home runs, 43 RBI and 40 runs scored, all of which trump Molina. His 4.3 WAR not only trumps any other catcher in baseball, it's also the third highest in the NL at any position. Heck, you could make an argument that he's an MVP candidate in the National League, something you wouldn't be doing with Molina.
The love for Molina is understandable, but Lucroy is the more deserving starter.
Advanced stats via ESPN.com unless otherwise noted.