Personally, I can’t stand the idea that the All Star Game counts for something. The game itself is nothing more than a glorified exhibition contest designed to showcase some of the best talent around while celebrating the game. The voting is nothing more than a popularity contest.
So every year, when the voting comes around, it’s a bit laughable when the true All Stars aren’t the ones getting the vote. What makes this year’s voting more ironic — at least from the Yankee/Red Sox perspective — is that the fans of the Red Sox, the AL’s front-runners right now, are voting for their own players when it would behoove their chances for that home field advantage in the World Series to vote for the Yankees (and a few non-Yankees). I wonder if Boston fans can handle that cognitive dissonance.
Let’s take a look at the most recent voting results, starting with the first basemen.
|1.||Youkilis, K.||Red Sox||1,187,909||21.9|
|5.||Konerko, P.||White Sox||365,592||-1.3|
So Kevin Youkilis isn’t a bad choice for All Star, but Jason Giambi is clearly the AL’s VORP leader at first base right now. Take out that bad three-week start, and Giambi is utterly crushing Youkilis and Morneau.
|1.||Pedroia, D.||Red Sox||1,027,788||8.5|
Really? Dustin Pedroia? Yankee fans, I know we all love Robinson Cano, but he is not an All Star this year. Vote for Ian Kinsler; he has a chance to unseat Boston’s bald little second baseman, and he’s actually the All Star this year.
At this point, we can skip a bit because the Yankees are winning. Alex Rodriguez is your clear All Star at third base, and while Michael Young is doing somewhat better than the slumping Derek Jeter this year, Derek Jeter will be the de facto All Star until he retires or moves from short stop. So we’ll turn to the catching slot, and it’s here that I begin to think no one really pays attention.
|1.||Varitek, J.||Red Sox||896,022||4.5|
|5.||Pierzynski, A.J.||White Sox||395,093||13.1|
That’s not a mistake; all four of the other AL catchers in the top five are having better seasons than Jason Varitek. Even the Yanks’ own Jorge Posada, out for five weeks with a shoulder injury, is a better All Star choice than the man who fights with his mask on. Joe Mauer is a close second, but he should be a distant first.
As the DH vote goes, it’s not even worth it to reproduce the numbers. David Ortiz is out-polling Hideki Matsui by nearly 800,000 votes while Matsui’s VORP is 22.1 compared to Ortiz’s 14.2. But Ortiz is injured, and Matsui will become the All Star DH by default. Milton Bradley’s VORP of 38.0 would make him, by far, the best choice, but MLB has him slotted in that disastrous group of outfielders.
|1.||Ramirez, M.||Red Sox||1,539,753||24.1|
|9.||Drew, J.D.||Red Sox||560,610||26.0|
Even the Red Sox fans, generally so generous with their votes, must hate J.D. Drew. The AL’s top-hitting right fielder is barely out-polling Melky and his 2.4 VORP. Meanwhile, Johnny Damon isn’t getting nearly enough All Star love while Ichiro and Manny are getting too much. Your top AL outfielders should be Josh Hamilton, Johnny Damon, and as much as it pains me to admit it, J.D. Drew. As I noted, Bradley should be considered a DH.
So this exercise, largely futile, proves a point that few would debate: The All Star game is a popularity contest. This year, the results seem particularly egregious and biased toward the team with the most bandwagon fans right now. As the Midsummer Classic approaches though, I have to laugh a little bit as I realize that the Red Sox would be much better served in the long run if they voted the Yankees on to the All Star team. Funny how things work out when, this time, it counts.