In an MLB.com article earlier today, Alden Gonzalez wrote that "one thing was evident when the first batch of American League voting results for the 81st All-Star Game were made public Monday: Winning yields votes."
On the surface that may appear to be true. If we were to look at the American League voting so far, it rewards teams rather than players. More accurately, it rewards the well-known players on these winning teams, showing that in the American League voting, fans are just voting for popularity.
This is to be expected, given that the fans are voting, but shouldn't the best players be the ones getting the votes? In some cases they are. There is no question that Robinson Cano is deserving of the starting second baseman job, and Joe Mauer is the obvious choice at catcher
Beyond that, Evan Longoria deserves the third base nod, and Ichiro deserves the top outfielder spot, as usual. Vladimir Guerrero is without question the top DH, as well.
My praise for the voting ends there though.
For as many good choices as there are, there are some that I'm scratching my head at. Yes, I get the players are popular, but they're really doing that well?
Let's look back at the designated hitter.
Vlad should be first, but the next four make no sense; we have Hideki Matsui, Ken Griffey, Pat Burrell, and David Ortiz rounding out the top five. Matsui is not playing very well, hitting only .227, and we all know how shoddy Griffey is. Including Ortiz in the discussion is fine.
But Pat Burrell? Really?
Yes, the guy who does not even have a team is fourth in voting.
Still, no Jose Guillen in there? I guess he's on the Royals so he doesn't count. Well, there are few DH playing well this year so I'll let it slide.
The shortstop position isn't as bad, but Elvis Andrus is playing well enough that he may well be worthy of the starting bid rather than Derek Jeter. Also, Alex Gonzalez should be third at worst—he's playing far better than J.J. Hardy and Jason Bartlett, but again, they're on good teams and that's all that matters apparently.
I can't argue with the current outfield of Ichiro, Carl Crawford, and Nelson Cruz. What puzzles me is how Yankees fan have Curtis Granderson ahead of Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner, who are playing far, far better baseball than he is. Still, how Vernon Wells is 11th and losing to Bobby Abreu and B.J. Upton shows what drives fans to vote.
The only position that truly bothers me right now though, and I hope it will be fixed, is first base. Mark Teixiera is first, then Justin Morneau, then Miguel Cabrera.
Mark ".209 average but it's just a slow start" Teixiera is beating Justin ".383 average and beating you in HR and RBI" Morneau, and Miguel "also beating Teixiera in everything" Cabrera. Even Youkilis is doing better. But again, it's a popularity contest. That being said, it will be rather hard to add in four first basemen to the roster.
Now, I'm aware that we are in the early stages of voting, and it's very possible that the bugs, now that people have seen the first round, will fix themselves. The casual fan knows to vote for Morneau right now, though they'll still vote for Cano, and possibly Jeter and A-Rod.
My problem with the current numbers may mean nothing. If we are just voting the popular ones to the all-star game no matter how badly they play though, then what's the point? It's not an honor any more if we do that.
So go vote, and vote for those players you think are most deserving. Don't stuff your ballot with everyone from your team (come on Yankees fans, even you know Granderson's not playing like an all-star).
Just go out there and vote smart. Make an informed decision. For it's not the color of the uniform, but how well they play the game, that makes an all-star.
One last footnote: Taylor Teagarden is fourth in catcher votes. He's played 10 games with a .037 average and isn't even the Rangers' starter now. The guy is fourth and has one hit!
Think about that.