I just completed my first ballot for the MLB All Star roster over at MLB.com. The "first ballot" thought is a real sticking point. Why are there multiple votes allowed? Is this American Idol? And what about the timing of the start of voting? Can we really tell who deserves to go based on two months of baseball? These are some of the hangups I have when it comes to, not only this new voting, but also the old way. I am not a fan of fan voting.
First of all, I feel a very compelling guilt if I do not vote for many members of my favorite team. I have been so pleased with DJ LeMahieu and Gio Urshela, so the urge is to vote for them. But Urshela currently stands 17th in the league in fWAR for third basemen. LeMahieu has a better argument, but if you boil it all down, Tommy La Stella and Brandon Lowe have a slight edge. Of course, part of the problem is the unreliability of the defensive statistics. Is Urshela really the sixteenth best fielding third baseman in baseball? I have a really hard time buying that.
The only Yankee I voted for was Gary Sanchez. That's it. To me, that is the way it should be done. You should not vote for hometown guys or guys with great reputations. Who is the best this year? Vote for that guy. But how many are like me out there? I am not trying to paint myself as this saint, but you know the majority of fans are voting for hometown guys or guys who were great in years past. When that happens, you get Bryce Harper starting for the NL in 2018.
If it was one vote per person, then there might be more clarity for guys and gals that think like me to have a chance. But if you can vote dozens of times or whatever it is, everything gets muddy and you do not get a true picture of who should start the game.
I also believe that the voting should not be started until two weeks before the final selections or the game itself. Say, for example, you could vote for pitchers and Domingo German is on the ballot when you first go to vote at the very start of June or whenever they started. German was an All Star in April and May. He is not now. That is how fast things can change.
How about if the reverse is true? What if a guy was just middling through April and May and plays with stars in his hair in June and by the end of the month is the best player at his position to that point? Sorry, pal, we already voted for someone else.
I do not believe that smaller market teams are penalized as in the past when voting was by cards given out at the ballpark. With things on the Internet now, it should not matter that way any more. Plus, I am not sure I buy the small market idea anyway. When every franchise is worth at least a billion or more and all that money pours in from MLB.com, etc., then you only have franchises that spend money and those who would rather pocket the money.
The alternatives are unattractive as well. Polling managers leads to team stacking. Just look at how pitchers are selected. Last year's league champion manager will put his entire pitching staff out there if he can manage it. So, no, that does not work. Writers cannot even get the Hall of Fame ballot correctly. How will they manage an All Star selection? The problem is that some will do their homework and others will just file it in. Do players really know how all the other players are doing? Doubtful.
I would be okay with fan voting if it was one vote per fan. Perhaps I could go as high as three if some change their minds. But that's it. I would also be okay if the selections were made from equal shares of writers, fans, managers and players. I just know that a plethora of votes per fan is not productive and will not lead to the best players starting the game.
All that said, MLB has the best All Star format and game in all of sports. It is the only major sport where the players actually play the game to the best of their abilities. As flawed as the voting is, the MLB All Star game is the only one in sports I am willing to watch.