Major League Baseball needs to fix All-Star Game voting
By Kasey Kuhrts
The first round of MLB All-Star Game voting has concluded, and just like most of Major League Baseball, it a broken system. The Tampa Bay Rays failed to have a player receive enough votes to advance to the second round of voting, despite having more deserving players than ones who advanced.
The Tampa Bay Rays are one of seven teams in major league baseball to sit above 47 wins and are one of two of those seven teams to not have a player advance to the second round of All-Star game voting.
The other team, the Oakland Athletics. Who currently have Matt Olson, who is hitting .296 with 20 home runs, and 53 RBIs. Olson finished fifth in AL First Baseman voting, while leading the second and third place vote-getters in home runs, runs, stolen bases, WAR, slugging percentage, OPS, and OPS+,
Although Matt Olson not advancing is ridiculous, let’s go back and focus on the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays really only have one, maybe two, big claims to how ridiculous the All-Star voting was this season. So let’s dive into them.
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Mike Zunino finishes eighth in All-Star Game voting
I am not going to hold back here folks, this is unbelievably wrong. Mike Zunino should be no lower than third in the voting but somehow ends up eighth. But, let’s start at the top.
Salvador Perez finished with the most votes for the American League catcher position, with 2.1 million votes. Perez received 1.5 million more votes than any other AL Catcher, which is exactly how it should be. Salvy is slashing .277/.300/.454 in 2021 with 18 home runs, and 47 RBIs. He is having a fantastic season, no complaints with Salvy leading the charge in the AL.
However, I have a major problem with all six other catchers who finished in front of Z. The final voting finished as so:
- Salvador Perez 2,150,968
- Martin Maldonado 644,173
- Yasmani Grandal 504,850
- Christian Vazquez 329,488
- Gary Sanchez 325,166
- Kurt Suzuki 302,319
- Danny Jansen 243,884
- Mike Zunino 211,544
- Sean Murphy 176,761
- Roberto Perez 108,280
Let’s start at number two, shall we?
Martin Maldonado is proving the Astros are no longer stealing signs because he is slashing .171/.256/.285 with a whopping five home runs, and 21 RBIs. What catches my eye out of his very below-average stats, Maldonado carries a 0.0 WAR in 2021. If you didn’t know, WAR stands for wins above replacement. So, Maldonado is contributing 0 wins to the Astros above what a replacement could do.
And you are trying to tell me this guy should be an All-Star?
Zunino leads Maldonado in home runs, RBIs, runs, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, total bases, OPS+, WAR, Runs Created per Game, win probability added (WPA+), and Runs Created. Need we say more? Maldonado finishing second in AL Catcher voting is laughable.
Moving on, let’s compare Mike Zunino to Yasmani Grandal.
Zunino leads Grandal in many of the same categories including hits, doubles, home runs, RBIs, batting average, slugging percentage, OPS, total bases, OPS+, and WAR. Although Grandal does have the edge in on-base percentage, runs created, and WPA+, Zunino is still having a better statistical season.
Now, let’s move to Christian Vazquez, who has his own claim of being snubbed by Maldonado and Grandal. Vazquez is slashing .269/.312/.372 with four home runs and 32 RBIs so far this season.
Vazquez gets on base at a much higher clip than Zunino and Maldonado, and has a much higher batting average than Zunino, Grandal, and Maldonado. However, Zunino still edges out Vazquez in home runs, RBIs, walks, slugging, OPS, OPS+, and Runs Created per Game.
I won’t go super deep into Gary Sanchez, Kurt Suzuki, and Danny Jansen, but what I will tell you is this. Gary Sanchez only receives votes because he plays for the New York Yankees. And for you to fully understand the situation, I will share with you Kurt Suzuki’s and Danny Jansen’s 2021 stats.
Kurt Suzuki: .221/.299/.390 two home runs, seven RBIs, nine runs scored, 67 OPS+, -0.4 WAR
Danny Jansen: .157/.248/.278 three home runs, eight RBIs, 13 runs scored, 46 OPS+, -0.2 WAR
Do those really sound like All-Star’s to you? How about this stat line?
.206/.297/.538 16 home runs, 33 RBIs, 28 runs scored, 134 OPS+, 1.7 WAR. Any guesses who that belongs to? If you guess Mike Zunino, that would be correct.
How the AL Catcher All-Star game voting should have finished:
1. Salvador Perez
2. Mike Zunino
3. Christian Vazquez
Randy Arozarena finishes 11th in All-Star game voting
This one is a little less clear-cut. Randy Arozarena failed to finish inside the top-nine vote-getters for the AL Outfield. However, there isn’t a glaring miss in the outfield, as there is behind the plate. The final voting in the outfield looked like this.
Obviously, the first thing you notice is Mike Trout leading the AL Outfielders without playing a game since May 17th. However, he is the best player in the game, so there is some understanding.
However, in my opinion, each of the top outfield vote-getters have a strong case to make the team. Comparing Arozarena’s season to Judge, Buxton, Brantley, Garcia, and Mullins serve no purpose. They are all having very good seasons.
However, you can argue Alex Verdugo and Randal Grichuk have comparable seasons to Arozarena. Let’s look a bit into that.
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Starting with Alex Verdugo, Randy leads Verdugo in runs, home runs, RBIs, stolen bases, walks, on-base percentage, OPS+, WAR, and WPA+.
While Verdugo leads Arozarena in hits, doubles, batting average, slugging, OPS, and runs created per game. They are tied in total bases with 120 each and runs created with 42 each.
However, Verdugo has a massive edge in strikeouts. Arozarena has K’d 88 times, which is 46 more times than Verdugo’s 42 strikeouts. Leading to Arozarena’s 27.3% strikeout rate.
Now, let’s look at Arozarena vs Randal Grichuk
Randy leads Grichuk in runs, stolen bases, walks, on-base percentage, OPS+, WAR, runs created, runs created per game, and WPA+.
However, Grichuk leads in most major categories including hits, doubles, home runs, RBIs, batting average, slugging, OPS, and total bases.
Overall, although lots of Rays fans believe Randy should be in the final nine of the All-Star voting, this is one position that was voting somewhat fair.
All-Star Game voting=popularity contest
I know I am not breaking any news here, but that’s what this is. The Astros have a player moving onto the second round of voting in every position.
Now, guys like Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve are well deserving of moving on. But Martin Maldonado was not deserving. We pointed out at the top of this article Matt Olson should have moved on over Yuli Gurriel. And how about Alex Bregman?
Bregman finished in second place in third baseman All-Star voting, however, Jose Ramirez, who finished in fourth leads Bregman in hits, runs, doubles, home runs, RBIs, stolen bases, walks, OPS, slugging, total bases, OPS+, WAR, runs created, runs created per game, and WPA+. I mean come on.
At the end of the day, the Tampa Bay Rays will have at least one player represent the team in Denver in July. However, with the obvious choice of Tyler Glasnow hitting the 60-day IL, who knows who it could be. If Zunino or Arozarena don’t get the call, I’d watch out for J.P. Feyereisen or Rich Hill.