As regards the final All-Star voting—fans, players, etc.—minus the Last Man online vote, a few sobering thoughts:
1) Four Royals turned out to be voted as starters, after all, compared to eight Reds voted but six left remaining in the 1957 ballot box stuffing scandal. (Then-commissioner Ford Frick, we repeat, removed Wally Post and Gus Bell from the starting lineup in favour of Willie Mays and Hank Aaron.) Apparently, the Kansas City stuffers just didn’t quite have what it took to set a new record for voting perfidy.
2) The four Royals who still made the cut as All-Star starters are Salvador Perez (C), Alcides Escobar (SS), Alex Gordon (OF), and Lorenzo Cain (OF). Of the four only Cain has any legitimate business even making the All-Star team, never mind being in the starting lineup. The players apparently seemed to have a sense of this in their share of the All-Star vote: Not one Royals player finished tops in the player voting, and even Cain finished well behind the players’ choices.
3) Three of the players’ top vote choices dovetailed with the fan voting: Miguel Cabrera (Tigers, 1B), whose injury will keep him out of the All-Star Game entirely; Josh Donaldson (Blue Jays, 3B); and, Mike Trout (Angels, OF). It is true that players themselves don’t always see the performances of their peers/opponents better than anyone else, fans or otherwise, but this makes three times where the fans and the players alike see eye to eye.
4) As it was when I last wrote about the issue, so it remains at this writing: Cain is the only Royals player whose wins above a replacement-level player (WAR) is in the top ten among American League regulars. He happens also to be the third-best American League center fielder according to his WAR. Judging strictly by WAR, the American League’s starting All-Star outfield by position should be Trout (who leads the league at any position with 5.2 WAR) at center field, Brett Gardner (Yankees; 3.2 WAR) in left field, and J.D. Martinez (Tigers; 3.2 WAR) in right field.
5) The top ten position players by WAR in the American League at this writing are, from one through ten, Trout, Jason Kipnis (Indians, 2B; 4.8), Donaldson (3B; 4.7), Manny Machado (Orioles, 3B; 4.7), Cabrera (1B; 4.0), Mookie Betts (Red Sox, CF; 4.0), Cain (CF; 3.9), Kevin Kiermaier (Rays, CF; 3.8), Gardner (3.2), and Martinez (3.2).
6) The number one American League players at each position by WAR, excluding pitchers, are Cabrera (1B), Kipnis (2B), Donaldson (3B), Xander Bogaerts (Red Sox, SS; 2.6), Gardner (LF), Trout (CF), and Maertinez (RF). Not one Royal was the top WARrior at any field position, yet the fan vote put four of them in the American League’s starting lineup.
7) Thanks to Cabrera’s injury, which just might have put a big dent in the Tigers’ hopes for another American League Central title, Kansas City’s Eric Hosmer will get the start at first base. Why? The fan vote, of course.
Yet Hosmer isn’t even in the league’s top forty in WAR through this writing. He’s number forty-one with 1.7 WAR. There are 25 players between Hosmer and Albert Pujols (Angels), who sits number fifteen in the league with 2.9 WAR and second among the league’s regular first basemen. You tell me which one deserves to start at first base if Cabrera has to miss the Game on the disabled list.
8) Stephen Vogt (Athletics) is the American League’s top WAR catcher. Again, the fan vote including the would-be ballot box stuff puts Perez behind the dish to start ahead of him. And Perez isn’t even the second best WARrior among the league’s catchers. Russell Martin is. When I cast my All-Star ballot a fortnight ago, Martin was the leader among the catchers. It’s no disgrace that Vogt pulled ahead of him by WAR; it’s a bloody disgrace that the stuffers really think Perez is having an All-Star season at all, never mind a better season than either of them.
9) Would you like to know where Escobar sits in the overall American League WAR chart at this writing? How does number 53 strike you? Yet Escobar will be the starting All-Star shortstop and Bogaerts, who’s 33 players higher than Escobar overall and tops among the league’s shortstops, with Jose Iglesias (Tigers; 1.6) second among the shortstops, may be lucky to become a reserve.
10) By contrast, for the most part voters got the National League’s starting All-Star lineup right. For the most part. Jhonny Peralta (Cardinals) is number 20 overall in WAR (2.5) but not even close to Brandon Crawford (Giants; 4.1), yet Peralta was voted to start at shortstop. Andrew McCutchen (Pirates; 3.0 WAR at this writing) lost out to Matt Holliday, never mind Holliday missing four weeks with a quad injury and his lame defense otherwise keeping him to a mere 1.1 WAR.
11) Right now the number one All-Star snub among the position players has got to be Kipnis. He’ll make it as a reserve, of course. But if you can tell me how the American League’s number one second baseman this season thus far gets turned aside in the vote for Jose Altuve (Astros), who’s 2.3 WAR and 25 players behind Kipnis overall on the WAR list, you’re a better manperson than I. Altuve isn’t anywhere near unworthy, of course, but Kipnis is leaving him a rear view mirror speck at second base so far.
12) The genuinely good news: The arguable worst second baseman among the American League’s regulars at the position didn’t get voted in as an All-Star starter after all. But give Omar Infante a prop anyway for at least having a sense of humour about the would-be idiocy.
13) The genuinely bad news: The All-Star voting is still broken and still in need of fixing. (Er, repairing). And the idea of pegging World Series home field advantage to the final score of the All-Star Game is still stupid enough to make a real fan come thisclose to praying the All-Star Game ends in a tie for every year to come. Or for eternity. Whichever comes first.
UPDATE, 9 JULY 2015: Alex Gordon won’t be doing anything in the All-Star Game . . . or for eight weeks to come. Gordon strained his left groin Wednesday night when he took an awkward warning track step while running down a fly ball by the Rays’ Logan Forsythe in the top of the fourth. Gordon hit the deck in pain as Forsythe ran out what proved an inside-the-park home run.
The Royals went on to win 9-7, but losing Gordon—who’s been worth 72 defensive runs saved in left field since 2012—is a nasty blow for the AL Central leaders. Especially after he went wild during a Tuesday doubleheader sweep of the Rays, reaching base eight times, with seven hits and six RBI during the sweep, and had been the Royals’ hottest bat over the previous week.
Adam Jones (Orioles) is expected to replace Gordon in the American League’s All-Star starting lineup. Jones had the most votes in the players’ voting for All-Star outfield reserves.