It’s that time of year again baseball fans. The time when Red Sox and Yankee fans are in full force getting Dustin Pedroia and Derek Jeter (although Jeter did deserve to go this year) to start the All-Star game despite better options being out there.
Most fans know that no matter how much Curtis Granderson is the model of what a baseball player should be, he doesn’t deserve to make the team with his .254 batting average.
Josh Hamilton was a great story and killed the ball in the Homerun Derby last year, but when you play in less than half of your teams games and hit under .250 you are probably closer to a minor league assignment than being an all-star.
Sure, Tim Wakefield has had a great career and done so much for Boston, but 11 wins and an ERA over 4 means you have a good offense, not that you are one of the best pitchers in the game.
Even tonight, Jair Jurrjens is going up against Jason Marquis. Obviously Marquis is the better and more deserving pitcher despite having an ERA that is nearly a point higher. Only in Steve Phillips’ slanted world is Jair Jurrjens (and also Johan Santana) to blame for his lack of run support.
The list goes on and on, I’m sure you would love the opportunity to insert your favorite all-star snubbing here…
At this point it’s clear that all fan voting does is cater to the fans who blindly vote with their favorite team and create a popularity contest among fans.
The solution can’t be in letting players and managers decide, as they too seem to be unaware of the statistics which measure their play. Sorry Terry Francona, a .220 hitting Jason Varitek didn’t deserve to make the all-star team last year even if he is one of your guys.
Plus any problem with the pitching staff (and there always are) is due to those inside the game of baseball.
Even when the MLB selects 5 players to go to the final vote, it means nothing for the guys who don’t get in. Although Matt Kemp and Adam Lind are outfielders who weren’t selected in the final vote, they weren’t the outfielders chosen to replace injured players on both teams.
Nelson Cruz will play for the AL (alright, another undeserving Texas outfielder) and Charlie Manuel’s boy Jason Werth will go for the NL (I’m sure the fact that he plays for the Phillies is just a coincidence).
Finally, the rule that every team should have a player shouldn’t exist. Ryan Zimmerman is a good player, but Pablo Sandoval is more deserving. The same can be said for a number of outfielders (like Matt Kemp) when put up against Hunter Pence.
Now, instead of writing thousands upon thousands of more words about the problems of the All-Star game, I will give three solutions. While there will always be debates because only so many players can go, these solutions could at least lessen big joke that the All-Star game currently is.
Let the All-Star Game Count for Nothing Again
So what if it happens to end in a tie again, at least it won’t mean undeserving players putting their leagues world series chances at stake.
There was no problem with it this way, some say that players will play harder because it “matters”. How does this game matter to Ryan Zimmerman or Zack Greinke.
People will still watch the All-Star game and at least when fans complain about who gets selected it won’t matter as much because the game doesn’t mean anything, it is only for fan entertainment.
Make A Selection Committee
Follow the NCAA basketball approach and name a committee that will be responsible for selecting the All-Star team.
Sure, there will be arguments but at least the committee can try and look only at statistics and eliminate the popularity contest aspect of the game.
While the committee members may have some bias, picking a committee of informed people inside Major League front offices could help to reduce the amount of undeserving players there. If each team sent one representative to their leagues committee, no team would be able to simply win a popularity contest, although people trading votes would likely occur.
Create A Formula
Instead of looking at NCAA Basketball, we will switch to NCAA football. Create a formula which can use players statistical contributions to select who the best are. While there will be arguments (especially over what the formula is) a formula could use more sabermetric stats which are often overlooked by casual fans.
The formula would be unbiased, and could be tweaked like the current BCS to allow human (either fans or players/coaches) to have input into who is eventually selected.
While I am undecided on which of these options I think is the best, I would rather have these then the current system where any and everyone seems to have a shot to make the All-Star team no matter what their actual on-field performance looks like.