If voting for the 2015 MLB All-Star game ended today, the American League would have seven Kansas City Royals starting. It’s true that every All-Star voter can place up to 35 ballots, but this dizzying pace means that every person (including infants) in greater Kansas City has voted 31.6 times. This indicates that there is some stuffing going on this year.
So is this a good thing for baseball? It’s a mess for several reasons. The game confers home field advantage in the World Series (for some reason). Online betting fans in every other market are developing hostility against Kansas City. Also, the ballot-rigging is fairly clear.
Online Betting: Should MLB Change the All-Star Voting Process?
Even so, it’s getting to be awfully late to change the results. If commissioner Rob Manfred stepped in at this late date, there would be an outcry about changing a process after it has begun. However, it is likely that there will be significant changes before next season. So what should the commissioner do?
First, let’s look at how ridiculous it is to have seven Royals starting the game. Ever since the Royals started playing 46 seasons ago, there have been seven total players who were chosen to start All-Star games: Jermain Dye, Bo Jackson, George Brett (11 times), Darrell Porter, Amos Otis, Freddie Patek and Frank White.
Who’s the last Royal to get a hit in an All-Star game? Since Bo Jackson won the All-Star MVP in 1989, only Salvador Perez (in 2013) has gotten a hit. Who’s the last Royal to be elected as a starter? Jermaine Dye (2000).
So should the Royals have any starters in the game? After all, the Royals did win the American League pennant in 2014 and are in first in their division. They do have some solid players. Salvador Perez deserves to start as catcher, and Alcides Escobar is the best shortstop in the league. Alex Gordon and Lorenzo Cain are playing well enough in the outfield for one or both to earn a starting slot.
But Omar Infante? He’s batting .230. But he’s in line to start as well.
So how can we fix this? Jayson Stark suggests having players and fans both vote, as they do now. Before announcing the teams, the staff of the league should compare the results. If the fans pick a starter who is not in the top three choices the players made, the players’ choice should start.
Here’s another fix – take the home field for the World Series out of the All-Star game. After all, this game is an exhibition that should feature the best in each league. That means that there should be enough competitive fire out there already. In all of the other professional sports leagues that feature playoff series (the NHL and NBA), the team with the best record gets home court (or rink) advantage, because they have earned it. There’s no reason why a team playing in October who may only have sent a couple of players to the All-Star game should forfeit home field advantage to a team with an inferior record in the league’s championship series.
Another fix involves starting fan voting much later – say on July 1. Their ballot would have a roster that players and coaches have selected as a deserving slate of potential All-Stars. This ensures that nobody ends up starting an All-Star game who hasn’t done anything at all to merit inclusion in the first place. Giving people 35 votes each sounds like a great idea, but you can now see what having all of those votes out there. While homers are always a part of the game, here it seems to have crossed the line toward rigging the vote. It would be ironic if seven Royals starters blow the game, only to send Kansas City on the road for four games even if they have a better record than their National League counterparts.