Arguing about the All-Star Game voting snubs is a bit of a futile endeavor. Most of the players discussed will get into the game anyway through either the manager selections or final vote. But that's not going to stop anybody from doing it.
Ideally, the All-Star voting is a meritocratic process rather than a popularity contest. The best players get the most votes, and everybody is happy. That's not how it goes, though. Fans will vote for their favorite players no matter what they've done on the field.
The five players listed below will most likely be making the trip to Minneapolis, so there really isn't too much to be worked up about. But that doesn't mean my sense of indignation at their perceived slights isn't high for no reason.
Jose Altuve, Houston Astros
Most of the time, you trust the fans to if not make the right decision, then at least make something close to the right decision. But there's no accounting for this. According to the July 1 results, Jose Altuve was fourth in the All-Star voting at second base.
Save some of your outrage for other injustices today too: Jose Altuve is FOURTH in All-Star balloting.— Craig Calcaterra (@craigcalcaterra) June 30, 2014
He leads the majors in hits (121) and is second in batting average (.347) and stolen bases (37). Yep, seems legit.
The 24-year-old is also coming off a blistering June:
Astros 2B Jose Altuve had 3 more hits, is now hitting over .500 in his last 14 games pic.twitter.com/2awW317Etn— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 30, 2014
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
There's no reason that Altuve shouldn't start the All-Star Game. He's been one of the best offensive players in the majors in 2014. Maybe once the Houston Astros turn things around, he'll get the credit he deserves.
Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto Blue Jays
Most MLB fans couldn't possibly envision anybody else starting at first base for the American League ahead of Miguel Cabrera. Never mind that Edwin Encarnacion has more home runs, runs batted in and walks, not to mention a higher slugging percentage and OPS.
The All-Star Game isn't a cumulative achievement—except in the case of a retiring star like Derek Jeter. You vote for the players who are having the best seasons.
Cabrera might be the two-time reigning AL MVP, but the fact of the matter is that Encarnacion is having a better season statistically. While this isn't as egregious as Altuve being fourth in the ballot, it's a slight nonetheless.
Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals
The AL catcher vote is a complete mess. The top vote-getter is out for the season, while the guy behind him is more of a platoon hitter.
Derek Norris has been very good in his limited at-bats. Eight home runs, 35 RBI and a .309 average are nothing to scoff at.
With all due respect, getting voted into the All-Star Game should be reserved for players who are a little more full time, though.
Salvador Perez has been improving with each month. His average jumped from .211 in April to .262 in May and then .347 in June. Sixteen of his 29 RBI also came in June.
Perez has been the much better defensive catcher, too. His .324 caught-stealing percentage is nearly 200 points higher than Norris' (.133).
Jonathan Lucroy, Milwaukee Brewers
Pretty much everybody has seen that Jonathan Lucroy All-Star propaganda video by now. That video alone should be good enough to get him in.
Like the Encarnacion/Cabrera debate, the NL catcher race boils down to reputation vs. production. We've come to recognize Yadier Molina as the best catcher in the world, but so far this year, the numbers don't bear that out.
Lucroy is hitting .331 with eight homers and 43 RBI, compared to .287, seven and 28, respectively, for Molina. Lucroy's slugging percentage and OPS are at least 100 points higher than Molina's. The St. Louis Cardinals star does own the defensive advantage, but the gap between the two in that respect isn't enough to outweigh Lucroy's obvious offensive superiority.
Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins
The National League has a wealth of great outfielders, so one or two qualified candidates are bound to finish on the outside looking in no matter how the voting shakes out.
More than likely, one of those players will be Giancarlo Stanton. The 24-year-old leads the NL in both home runs (21) and RBI (61). Far from being just a slugger, he also boasts a batting average of .313 and an on-base percentage of .410.
"This guy is having an unbelievable year," Miami Marlins manager Mike Redmond said, per MLB.com's Joe Frisaro. "I'm so happy for him. I talk about him all time, about how much he means to our team. We need to get him in that starting lineup. He deserves that."
Stanton will struggle to unseat any of Yasiel Puig, Carlos Gomez and Andrew McCutchen, but he deserves to get in ahead of one of those candidates.
Note: All stats are courtesy of ESPN.com unless otherwise noted.