In each form of election through popular vote (Presidential election, All-Star Game selection), there is always an underlying fear that the often maligned "un-informed masses" will let personal biases and perceived incompetence affect the outcome.
However, theoretically speaking, shouldn't this constant doubt be alleviated in the case of the MLB All-Star Game selection, where the fans, players and managers of each All-Star squad have a say in who is selected?
Alas, history, and the present, proves that hypothetical wrong.
Case in point, the 2011 MLB All-Star Game rosters.
In this All-Star Game voting, batting average, OPS, slugging percentage and overall play were sacrificed to select the "who's who" list of the "once-great but currently not" All-Stars.
Who are those that spent Selection Sunday fuming and lamenting?
Team: Chicago White Sox
With the steroid era (hopefully) behind us, it is rare to see a player who is seemingly past his prime to put up career numbers. When this does happen to a player who with no alleged PED connections, shouldn't he be rewarded?
Never before has Konerko hit more than 41 home runs or 117 RBI's in one season, but in 2011, the White Sox first baseman is on track to surpass both of those totals. At 35, Konerko's .312 average, 21 home runs and two RBI's have him on course to put up the best numbers of his storied career.
To be fair, Konerko was facing some high-level competition for the first base spot, with Adrian Gonzalez (neck-and-neck with Jose Bautista for AL MVP) and Miguel Cabrera (who has comparable slugging stats and a higher average than Konerko) being the two that were selected ahead of him.
Luckily for Konerko, he impressed enough to be on the "Final Vote Ballot," where a fan vote determines who will be the final player on each roster.
For a player whose loyalty and consistency are unmatched, hopefully, the fans will see that Konerko is deserving of that final spot.
Team: Philadelphia Phillies
With the offseason loss of Jason Werth and the prolonged injury to Chase Utley, the Phillies have been shorthanded offensively for the majority of the 2011 season. Even with former MVPs Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins, the Phillies needed one other position player to step up and give run support to the other-worldly pitching staff the Phillies possessed.
Enter the "Flyin' Hawaiin."
Shane Victorino's versatility is vital in the continuation of the Phillies sterling 53-32 record (best in baseball as of July 3). Victorino's speed (13 stolen bases and 53 runs in 2011) is indicative of his ability to hit in the top if the Phillies' line-up and provide a base-stealing threat.
Similarly, Victorino has the power and strength (nine home runs, 34 RBI's and a .900 OPS) to be a legitimate middle-of-the-order player as well.
All of this makes the case for Victorino as a justifiable selection by the fans, players and managers, none of which put him on the team.
Much like Konerko, Victorino faces stiff competition in centerfield, but his numbers are comparable to any of them (save for Matt Kemp).
Hopefully, also like Konerko, Victorino is rewarded by the fans and voted in on the final vote. The All-Star Game will be much more entertaining with the "Flyin Hawaiin" in it.
Team: Atlanta Braves
Bruce Bochy, the San Francisco Giants' manager and the National League's manager in the All-Star Game, had four roster spots for pitchers, and, predictably, three of them were his own pitchers (Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Ryan Voglesong).
All three Giants pitchers were deserving (Voglesong was questionable, but his back-story is what puts him over the top), but it left a more-than-deserving Tommy Hanson on the outside looking in.
Hanson's 2011 resume: a solid 9-4 record with a 2.62 ERA, a .193 BAA (Batting Average Against) and a stellar 1.06 WHIP (Walks + Hits per Inning Pitched).
Add on the fact that, despite a far less star-studded roster, the Braves are keeping pace with the Phillies thanks to ace Jair Jurrjens and Hanson; Hanson has arguably the most to be angry about during the July 4th weekend.
Team: New York Yankees
Could it be, that the New York Yankees garnered too many selections that there weren't enough votes to go around to fit in the ace of their pitching staff?
Who knows? How else do you explain the man who's tied for the American League in wins getting left off the All-Star roster? And not just a random pitcher who came out of nowhere this season to notch 11 wins, but one of the most dominant pitchers of the past decade.
What's most perplexing is not that players like Derek Jeter (who has the fame but not the stats) made the team, but how a player like C.C. Sabathia (who has both the fame and the stats) doesn't?
Sabathia's stat line has All-Star written all over it: an 11-4 record and solid 3.04 ERA should be enough. Throw in the fact that Sabathia CARRIES (and yes, all caps is the only way to emphasize it) the Yankees pitching staff (which lacks depth and has been decimated with injuries to Bartolo Colon and Joba Chamberlain), and it is downright dumbfounding how the big lefty doesn't make the roster.
We must be truthful in noting that Sabathia will be a "Sunday starter," meaning that he wouldn't have even pitched anyway, but he deserves the symbolic respect to be put on the roster.
The ace of a team that leads the American League in wins deserves nothing less.
Team: Pittsburgh Pirates
For our most egregious All-Star snub, let's play a little game called "who's stats are more deserving of an All-Star selection?":
Player 1: .280 AVG, 12 HR, 54 RBI's, .370 OBP, .490 SLG, 3 SB.
Player 2: .294 AVG, 12 HR, 45 RBI's, .393 OBP, .498 SLG, 15 SB.
Given that Player 2 has better stats in every category except RBI's, I'm assuming that you would choose Player 2, right?
Well, without any logic or reason, the fans, players and managers would disagree with you.
They chose Player 1 (Carlos Beltran) over Player 2 (Andrew McCutchen). I hope that your reaction is the same as mine was when I first heard the selection.
Not only does McCutchen have clearly superior stats, but his value to a baseball team (which can't be measured by stats) is far greater than not only Beltran, but almost any other National League centerfielder. He plays superb defense, helped by his blazing speed, and is a terror on the base paths. He has been the most important player on a team that is over .500 this late into the season for what feels like the first time since Roberte Clemente was a Pirate.
What's even worse is that he's not even on the Final Voting Ballot! Of all the players who were robbed on Selection Sunday, none had a more legitimate reason to gripe than Andrew McCutchen.