I have somewhat of a problem with the final vote for the “last” roster spot available in both leagues. First of all the American League is no contest. Yu Darvish will win in a runaway, because Ranger fans have stuffed the ballot box thus far and will continue to do so. And unless the large contingent of fans in Japan suddenly decide Jason Hammel or Jonathan Broxton is their guy, Darvish will win in a landslide. No, the more interesting (and maybe odd) case is over in the National League, where we more than likely have a two horse race between Chipper Jones and Bryce Harper.
This is absolutely ridiculous to me because neither of these two players should finish at the top of this ballot, but barring a massive upset one of them will. Let’s take a look at all 5 players (Harper, Jones, Michael Bourn, David Freese, and Aaron Hill), statistics and remove their names, looking only at performance.
Player A: 71 games played, .280/.331/.481, 119 OPS+, 13 HR, 48 RBI, 20 BB, 71 K 1/3 steals, 1.5 Fangraphs WAR
Player B: 72 games played, .301/.362/.526, 130 OPS+, 11 HR, 38 RBI, 25 BB, 45 K, 7/9 in steals, 2.8 fWAR
Player C: 56 games played, .274/.374/.475, 123 OPS+, 8 HR, 22 RBI, 24 BB, 49 K, 8/11 in steals, 1.4 fWAR
Player D: 77 games played, .307/.355/.442, 114 OPS+, 7 HR, 29 RBI, 26 BB, 67 K, 22/29 in steals, 4.0 fWAR
Player E: 43 games played, .291/.372/.540, 121 OPS+, 6 HR, 28 RBI, 20 BB, 18 K, 0/0 in steals, 1.6 fWAR
It’s a pretty difficult choice isn’t it? If you only go by these numbers listed above you would probably have to vote for Player B. If your a big fan of WAR, which includes defensive statistics that aren’t always accurate, you have no choice but to pick Player D. You would have just chosen either Aaron Hill (B) or Michael Bourn (D). Player A was David Freese, Player C was Bryce Harper, which leaves Chipper Jones as Player E.
Yet I will bet a hell of a lot of money that neither of those players makes the All-Star team via the Final Vote. They may sneak on when the NL roster predictably bloats due to injury replacement or players simply not wanting to play, but neither will be voted on. In fact, I will be those two players finish last and 2nd to last in the polls respectively, because neither player is an aging legend or a one-man hype monster.
And not that I mind if Chipper Jones gets another All-Star game. I grew up in northern Florida in the 1990s and Chipper Jones was a cult hero in the area, so I won’t mind seeing the Atlanta icon receive his just recognition. It won’t bother me if Bryce Harper is voted in either. He always proves to be exciting and could provide a spark to what can sometimes become a dull game. It just strikes me as odd that nobody will vote for the two most deserving players, especially when they are also exciting.
Michael Bourn offers an elite combination of defensive prowess and speed on the base paths, both of which could come in handy to notorious tinkerer Tony La Russa. Aaron Hill is having the finest season of his career and has already hit for the cycle twice this season, a feat only accomplished by 4 other Major League players EVER. Both Hill and Bourn are interesting players, and either one would make a good choice to earn the “last” spot on the team. Hopefully once Chipper or Harper has won the vote one of the two is called on as an injury replacement.
Other Thoughts and Observations
-Normally I don’t think that any player is truly snubbed from making the All-Star team. The rosters are usually so bloated with 32-36 players that I find it really difficult to get upset that the 33rd or 37th best player in the league didn’t make the team. But this year there is one oversight to egregious that it immediately drew my attention and that’s the exclusion of Zach Greinke. He’s the only player with more the 100 strikeouts to be left off the roster. I guess a 9-2 record with a 2.82 ERA while striking out 4 batters for every walk just doesn’t cut it these days.
-The NL outfield backups are absolutely ridiculous. Carlos Gonzalez (.337/.394/.604, 17 HR, 58 RBI), Andrew McCutchen (.346/.401/.593, 15 HR, 51 RBI), and Ryan Braun (.313/.394/.611, 22 HR, 55 RBI) were all elected to the game via the player vote, and are probably the most talented backup outfield trio ever assembled in baseball history. The NL will have even more depth out there with the inclusion of Giancarlo Stanton and Jay Bruce as will.
-The Rangers have the best record in baseball and it showed in the All-Star voting, with 7 Texas players chosen to represent the American League. Josh Hamilton, propelled by his monstrous month of May, received the most votes for any player ever, breaking Jose Bautista’s one-year-old record. Other well represented teams include the Yankees, Giants, and Cardinals, who each have 4 players apiece.