By: Noah Wright
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
MLB just released an update on NL All-Star voting, and a few things seem off. There are right now, a few players that should not make the ASG roster, but will anyway, some players with way more votes than they should, and the rest are players that do deserve and all-star nod, but still are on the fringe. This is because of fan voting. When they let the fans vote, balloting turns into a popularity contest, and we can see this in the voting.
I first want to start with Bryce Harper. Right now, Harper has an underwhelming .228 batting average, but a pretty good .360/.590 OBP and slugging % in 278 PA’s. He also has been spotty with the glove with -5 DRS, -.7 dWAR, and -4 UZR in right field. While he may deserve an all-star nod, does he really deserve nearly 500K votes? His vote total eclipses Matt Kemp’s total by nearly 150K votes, even though Kemp currently has a .338/.368/.564 line in 220 PA’s, with his OPS leading all NL outfielders, and he’s been actually not bad with the glove (0 DRS, 1 UZR, -.3 DRS).
Next, why does Eugenio Suarez not have just as many, if not more votes than Kris Bryant. Suarez and Bryant both have similar batting lines, with Suarez batting .301/.386/.568 with 154 wRC+ in 215 PA’s, and Bryant batting .293/.402/.500 with 144 wRC+ in 264 PA’s. Both have also been good enough with the glove, with Bryant having 0 DRS, -.1 dWAR, -.1 UZR, and Suarez having 1 DRS, .2 dWAR, -1 UZR. But what does Bryant have that Suarez doesn’t? About 217.4 thousand more votes. The deficit puts Suarez in 3rd place for thirdbase voting. I’m not saying that Bryant doesn’t deserve an all-star nod, I’m just saying that Suarez deserves it just as much.
The last position I want to point out is second base. Cubs’ second basemen Javier Baez has had an ok season so far. Right now, he’s batting .250/.279/.522 with 14 homers and 46 RBI’s, but comes with a lowly 107 wRC+ in 240 PA’s. He’s been pretty good with the leather at 2B as well, with 3 DRS, .2 dWAR, and -.3 UZR. He currently sits second in second base all-star voting with 360K votes, and is in shooting distance of taking over Ozzie Albies for the #1 spot who currently has 398K votes. But do you know who’s been much better than Javier Baez? Scooter Gennett. Gennett has done nothing but rake this season. He’s currently batting .340/.376/.556 (his average leads The NL) with 12 homers, 47 RBI’s, and 151 wRC+. While his defense hasn’t been as good as Baez’s, with -1 DRS, 0 dWAR, and -2 UZR, it’s not been terrible. But Scooter Gennett isn’t guaranteed an ASG roster spot right now. The recent update says that Gennett has 309.5K votes, compared to Javier Baez’s 360.3 votes.
So why are some players who deserve the votes not getting them? Because fan All-Star Voting is really a popularity contest. If you go out and ask 12 casual MLB fans (assuming they are neither huge Cub or Red fans) who Kris Bryant is, I guarantee you more than half will say they know who they are. If you go out and ask those same 12 fans, you’ll be lucky to have half of them know who Eugenio Suarez and Scooter Gennett is. But this isn’t the fan’s fault, it’s part MLB’s. Right now, The Cubs are popular, so they get tons of attention and fans. The Reds, not so much.So MLB advertises The Cubs much more than smaller teams. This can cause casual fans to sway their votes away from players that deserve it just as much, if not more than the players that they are voting for.