Kudos to all Chicago Cubs fans. You bought four starters for tonight’s All-Star game in San Diego.
How does that make you feel? Proud? Guilty? You did indeed follow the rules, but we all know the fans should have no say in any balloting except for picking the last spot. You let hometown adoration get in the way of numbers.
Let’s take a look at the NL voting.
Anthony Rizzo (first), Ben Zobrist (second), Addison Russell (short) and Kris Bryant (third) will occupy half of the position player spots, and truly only two, Rizzo and Bryant, deserve to start.
Rizzo is hitting .299 with 21 homers and 63 RBI, and Bryant is hitting .286 with 25 homers and 65 RBI. The only challenge to Bryant is Nolan Arenado of the Rockies, who is hitting .287 with 23 homers and 70 RBI.
Zobrist should be on the team, but not as a starter. He’s hitting .283 with 13 homers and 47 RBI, all three stats well below Washington’s Daniel Murphy, who is hitting .348 with 17 homers and 66 RBI. Russell shouldn’t be on the team at all. He is at the very most, the third-best shortstop in the NL. Russell is hitting .237 with 11 homers and 51 RBI. Brandon Crawford of the Giants is at .281 with nine homers, 61 RBI and a .989 fielding percentage. Seager is hitting .297 with 17 homers and 42 RBI with a .967 fielding mark. They are the best shortstops in the NL, and I would give Crawford the nod based on his range and fielding.
You all know that I’m a Giants fan, but you can make a case for Wilson Ramos starting over Buster Posey behind the plate. Ramos is hitting .330 with 13 homers and 48 RBI. Posey is at .292 with 11 homers and 42 RBI. Posey has just one error behind the plate.
I don’t have a major issue with the outfield starters. I know Bryce Harper isn’t hitting for average thus far (.256), but 19 homers and 52 RBI is a solid first half. Yoenis Cespedes is a no-brainer with a .302 average and 21 homers. Chicago’s Dexter Fowler is hitting .290 with 28 RBI. If I had to make a change it would be Carlos Gonzalez, who is hitting .318 with 19 homers.
I look down the American League list, and I can’t honestly argue against any of the eight position players starting. There were some tough picks at second (Jose Altuve over Robinson Cano) and at third (Manny Machado beat out Josh Donaldson). Detroit’s Ian Kinsler is also having a nice season. There are a couple of guys I could argue against, but I’m a National League fan first and foremost, so I’ll stop here when it comes to the AL.
I’m getting tired of the yearly popularity contest. Baseball has the best all-star game of the four major sports, and I don’t think anybody in their right mind would question that. However, I want to see the best, and most deserving, in the game. Also, I don’t think every team needs to be represented.
Lastly, the fans’ ballot stuffing makes it tough to decide on the reserves, and although I think players generally make too much money, bonuses are tied into making the all-star game and starting the all-star game.
So, let’s turn the voting, save for one non-starting spot on each team, back to the players where it belongs. They are the ones with the knowledge, and they will 99 percent of the time, vote correctly.
I would also like to see a longer all-star break. Make it a full week. That way a guy like Madison Bumgarner could throw an inning, especially if they pushed the game to Wednesday or Thursday. Presently, guys that start on the mound on Sunday can’t pitch on Tuesday. A longer all-star break means shortening the season by a few games or playing a couple of doubleheaders the second half of the season. I’d vote for the ladder. And owners, you can still split the double-header so you can have separate gates.