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Monday, May 12, 2014

Spector: Here’s how to fix MLB’s flawed All-Star voting process

Spector: Power to the people…to vote online!

The American League has a pair of elite third basemen in Josh Donaldson of the Oakland Athletics and Evan Longoria of the Tampa Bay Rays. There is a rising slugging star in Seattle, Kyle Seager. In Baltimore, Manny Machado has returned to action for the Baltimore Orioles. With All-Star voting open, voters have plenty of choices for their Junior Circuit representative at the hot corner.

Plenty of choices, but not enough. The man leading American League third basemen in wOBA and wRC+, two vital advanced batting statistics, Yankees sparkplug Yangervis Solarte, is not on the All-Star ballot. The New York player up for voting at the position is Kelly Johnson.

... It would be easy to fix the All-Star ballot if all voting took place online. Major League Baseball could just set a minimum number of games played at each position, then populate the ballot accordingly. The problem is the paper ballot — that thing that has been teaching American children about hanging chads since long before Bush v. Gore was part of the nation’s history.

The paper ballot is going nowhere for two reasons. One is respectable and also totally not a real reason that a multibillion dollar business does anything: it’s a fun tradition. The real reason is that the All-Star ballot draws corporate sponsorship, putting advertisements in the hands of millions of fans for more than two months. Major League Baseball is not about to give up easy money simply for the benefit of Yangervis Solarte maybe getting a crack at a career highlight or Alex Gonzalez not getting laughed at.

There is a solution that includes the paper ballot, and it is to wait. Push back the start of All-Star voting to Mother’s Day, launching it with a series of commercials in which major leaguers, with their moms, urge fans to vote for them. Make the beginning of All-Star voting into an event, and an adorable one at that. The increased sponsorship exposure would make up for having two fewer weeks of paper ballots circulating, while also allowing the ballot-makers the chance to put out a more valid slate of candidates.

Repoz Posted: May 12, 2014 at 05:37 PM | 48 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: mlb

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   1. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: May 12, 2014 at 05:56 PM (#4705360)
There is a write in slot and two players have in fact been elected starters via write in (one was Garvey, no idea who the other was). That said, Solarte does not belong at the all-star game.
   2. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 12, 2014 at 06:03 PM (#4705366)
Rico Carty was a write in All-Star, although back then I believe not every team had a rep on the ballot at every position.

Fans only vote in the starters and the 35th man. I don't really see a problem here. Yangervis Solarte - if that is a real person - isn't going to be voted in as the starter at 3B by either method.
   3. The Yankee Clapper Posted: May 12, 2014 at 06:08 PM (#4705369)
There is a write in slot. . .

Does spelling count? If so, it's a pretty steep path for Yangervis Solarte. Are the Bleacher Creatures even getting it right during Roll Call?
   4. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 12, 2014 at 06:11 PM (#4705373)
Does spelling count? If so, it's a pretty steep path for Yangervis Solarte. Are the Bleacher Creatures even getting it right during Roll Call?

Not to mention that he's played either 2B or SS for 12 of his 39 games. Right now he's looking like an 2014 edition of Gil McDougald.
   5. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 12, 2014 at 06:14 PM (#4705374)
That said, Solarte does not belong at the all-star game.

And why the hell not, if he keeps playing the way he has up to now? Even if he doesn't start, he should be in the running for a roster position.
   6. JJ1986 Posted: May 12, 2014 at 06:15 PM (#4705376)
The easiest thing to do would be to let there be different players on the printed and online ballots. The fact that Geovany Soto's name was printed 2 months ago is not a good enough reason to leave him in the online version. It wouldn't hurt anyone. The guys who haven't played aren't going to be elected anyway; the replacements will get more votes than they would purely by write-in.
   7. cardsfanboy Posted: May 12, 2014 at 06:18 PM (#4705379)
The only thing that needs to be done to the all star voting, is to limit the players vote. If they select a player that the fans voted in, then there is no second seeding getting the next spot.

I'm a person who votes for 3 critieria which is 1. Performance since the beginning of last season 2. star power of the player 3. career.(with an admitted hometown bias for any close votes)

I really, really despise people that vote strictly based upon seasonal stats for the current season.
   8. Kurt Posted: May 12, 2014 at 06:21 PM (#4705381)
Oh, no! The Wrong People might end up in the All-Star Game!
   9. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 12, 2014 at 06:23 PM (#4705383)

Oh, no! The Wrong People might end up in the All-Star Game!


Has that ever happened before?
   10. Mark Armour Posted: May 12, 2014 at 06:44 PM (#4705401)
My all-star voting criteria is: who would I like to have on my team for the second half of the season? This is really the same as: who is the best player? Not: who got hot in May? Sorry Collin Cowgill and Yangervis Solarte, but I need a bit more convincing.


   11. valuearbitrageur Posted: May 12, 2014 at 06:53 PM (#4705408)
The ballot should list the top 5 for each position based on trailing 12 months WAR at time of printing. At least the bad votes won't be from lack of information.
   12. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 12, 2014 at 07:02 PM (#4705413)
Push back the start of All-Star voting to Mother’s Day, launching it with a series of commercials in which major leaguers, with their moms, urge fans to vote for them.


"Yes, Mrs. Upton, you have to film both."

   13. PreservedFish Posted: May 12, 2014 at 07:07 PM (#4705414)
I vote for the players I would most enjoy watching on my television.
   14. BDC Posted: May 12, 2014 at 07:41 PM (#4705427)
Why is anyone worried about how to fix a voting process that begins with an usher handing you sixteen ballots every time you walk past them?
   15. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: May 12, 2014 at 07:46 PM (#4705430)
And why the hell not, if he keeps playing the way he has up to now? Even if he doesn't start, he should be in the running for a roster position.


Because he's not remotely the running for the best 3b in the AL, maybe if his next 150 MLB games look like his first 30, he could reasonably be in the running for a slot in 2015.

Forget the obvious guys like Cabrera and Longoria and Donaldson, how could you justify Solarte over Seager?
   16. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: May 12, 2014 at 08:00 PM (#4705435)
If you think Solarte is an All Star, then we simply have a different opinion about the purpose of the All Star Game.

I think it is generally to celebrate the stars of baseball.

I also think that one of the most unfortunate byproducts of interleague play is that much of the novelty of interleague matchups has been taken away from the All Star Game. As a child, I thought is was cool to watch, say, Mike Schmidt hit against, say, Jim Palmer, because it was something you would rarely - if ever - see.
   17. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 12, 2014 at 08:41 PM (#4705454)
Forget the obvious guys like Cabrera and Longoria and Donaldson, how could you justify Solarte over Seager?

Isn't there still a quota of at least one player a team? (smile)

(Oh, wait, that'd be Tanaka.)

But yeah, you're right. That was just my fandom getting the better of me for a minute, even though as a rule I'd still rather see hot rookies than stars having mediocre seasons.** I can see Jeter dribble out to second a dozen times a week already.

**Not that this applies to the four players you mentioned.
   18. Walt Davis Posted: May 13, 2014 at 12:04 AM (#4705556)
What the hell ... the leagues don't really mean much anymore so how about fans just vote on all 3B and the top 2 start (alternating top vote-getters between the two teams) and everybody else is "drafted." If it's a DH year* then whoever gets the top DH finisher picks 2nd in both the pitcher draft and the bench draft. Gets you around the problem when all the good 3B are in one league.

(Note I don't like this idea as I'm a separate leagues traditionalist, don't like interleague, not a fan of the latest expansion and would still have Atlanta in the NL West where they belong! But if you're gonna blaspheme you might as well blaspheme all the way.)

So whaddya figure for this year's game -- 20 pitchers, 27 Ks, 18 GBs into the shift and the AL winning 1-0 on a HR by Ortiz?

* Just have a DH for both leagues every year. AL can be top DH, NL can be manager's choice or top vote-getter screwed out of a starting slot or whatever. Nobody ever wants to see a pitcher hit in the AS game and it's easy to PH for the DH every time. I know pitchers rarely hit anyway but the starter always goes 2 and all it takes is for the road team to get 9 guys to the plate over the first 2 innings. No need to chance it.
   19. AJMcCringleberry Posted: May 13, 2014 at 12:14 AM (#4705565)
I vote for the players I would most enjoy watching on my television.

Me too.
   20. tshipman Posted: May 13, 2014 at 12:31 AM (#4705578)
And why the hell not, if he keeps playing the way he has up to now? Even if he doesn't start, he should be in the running for a roster position.


Because the ############# Yankees should not be rewarded for their deals with the devil.

A 26 year old rookie comes out of nowhere and hits for an .857 OPS playing up the middle? Only the MFYs.
   21. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: May 13, 2014 at 12:38 AM (#4705580)
* Just have a DH for both leagues every year. AL can be top DH, NL can be manager's choice or top vote-getter screwed out of a starting slot or whatever.


They do. They instituted that with the 2011 game.
   22. TFTIO is familiar with the works of Pablo Neruda Posted: May 13, 2014 at 12:38 AM (#4705581)
What the hell ... the leagues don't really mean much anymore so how about fans just vote on all 3B and the top 2 start (alternating top vote-getters between the two teams) and everybody else is "drafted." If it's a DH year* then whoever gets the top DH finisher picks 2nd in both the pitcher draft and the bench draft. Gets you around the problem when all the good 3B are in one league.

I know that this isn't what you meant, but I read it to mean that the top two players regardless of position play third and then everybody else gets drafted. If nothing else, this might make me watch the game again.
   23. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: May 13, 2014 at 01:40 AM (#4705605)
I'm just looking forward to Pablo Sandoval starting at 3b for the NL again. He's just such a great talent, not like that flash in the pan David Wright.

Still bitter about that, and the rubes here who tried to defend that choice by the fans know who they are.
   24. bjhanke Posted: May 13, 2014 at 03:41 AM (#4705620)
Oh, boy, would on line All-Star voting be easy to hack. And if you think that no serious baseball fan would ever do such a thing, I direct you to Cincinnati, 1957. - Brock Hanke
   25. Walt Davis Posted: May 13, 2014 at 04:45 AM (#4705623)
Online AS voting has already been hacked ... or tampered with. Was it Nomar in one of the early votes who got a ####-ton of internet votes at the last moment?
   26. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: May 13, 2014 at 07:11 AM (#4705636)
Nobody ever wants to see a pitcher hit in the AS game and it's easy to PH for the DH every time.


I would rather see a pitcher hit in the ASG than see a DH do the same.

It's just as easy to PH for the pitcher as it is to PH for the DH.
   27. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 13, 2014 at 07:55 AM (#4705643)


Because the ############# Yankees should not be rewarded for their deals with the devil.

A 26 year old rookie comes out of nowhere and hits for an .857 OPS playing up the middle? Only the MFYs.


Just like only the MFYs can manage to put 60% of their starting rotation on the DL within a few short weeks, while one of their two remaining starters has become a batting practice pitcher over the past nine months.

But you're right. Let's have the Yanks trade Solarte for a certain lollygagging, injury-prone, overrated Nationals outfielder with a feeble 0.2 WAR so far this year.
   28. McCoy Posted: May 13, 2014 at 08:21 AM (#4705653)
Doesn't that describe all of their outfielders?
   29. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: May 13, 2014 at 08:28 AM (#4705655)
Why do people get worked up about this? Historically, the fans have a done a decent job picking the teams. Just relax and enjoy the game and let the fans have their fun stuffing the ballot.
   30. Tom Nawrocki Posted: May 13, 2014 at 09:30 AM (#4705685)
The biggest flaw with the All-Star voting process is the idiots who think that players like Yangervis Solarte should be on the All-Star team.
   31. BDC Posted: May 13, 2014 at 10:29 AM (#4705749)
I take it Walt, in #18, means something like this year's Pro Bowl. That would be fun and in keeping with some of the stunts of the week, like the HR Derby and such. Hank Aaron could pick a team to play against Sandy Koufax's team. I would watch that too … but I guess it couldn't "count" for World Series homefield purposes as the current momentous game does.
   32. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 13, 2014 at 11:13 AM (#4705783)
The biggest flaw with the All-Star voting process is the idiots who think that players like Yangervis Solarte should be on the All-Star team.

Right, and letting people vote 25 times for every e-mail address you can register presents no problem at all. What exactly is supposed to be the rationale behind that? To reward the fans with computer programming skills and / or an inordinate amount of patience?

The truth is that the fans usually pick the best players, and the players would do just as well. The real problem is that there are usually too many qualified players for too few roster spots, and too many legacy choices who clutter up the field. Put that together with the conflicting theories of rewarding current form vs prior career numbers, and you're never going to please everybody.
   33. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: May 13, 2014 at 11:19 AM (#4705792)

Right, and letting people vote 25 times for every e-mail address you can register presents no problem at all.


It doesn't.

What exactly is supposed to be the rationale behind that?


The rationale is getting people thinking about and participating in MLB-related activities as much as possible. The more time they're spending on these activities, the better is it for MLB.

If you were setting up a system to elect the next prime minister of Equatorial Guinea, then you'd want to guard against voting excesses. MLB is not, so there's no reason to try to curb any of this.

   34. villageidiom Posted: May 13, 2014 at 11:24 AM (#4705795)
The biggest flaw with the All-Star voting process is the idiots who think that players like Yangervis Solarte should be on the All-Star team.
...Yangervis Solarte not being listed at 3B on a ballot that has write-in spots is a problem needing a solution.
   35. Tom Nawrocki Posted: May 13, 2014 at 11:26 AM (#4705796)
The truth is that the fans usually pick the best players, and the players would do just as well.


The truth is that there is no definition of "best players" that includes Yangervis Solarte. It's not just that people want to put him on the All-Star team for a hot first half; they want to put him on the All-Star team for less than half of a hot first half. For 112 ABs.

No one, not even Yangervis' mother, thinks he is really a .330/.405/.473 hitter. If he were hitting like that at the break, there might be an argument to put him on the All-Star team, but in all likelihood, he will be at something like .276/.323/.403 (which is what he hit in AAA last year). And no one would be able to explain what he's doing on the All-Star team. He'd be this year's Bryan LaHair.
   36. Pat Rapper's Delight Posted: May 13, 2014 at 11:30 AM (#4705800)
I also think that one of the most unfortunate byproducts of interleague play is that much of the novelty of interleague matchups has been taken away from the All Star Game.

Likewise, the most unfortunate byproduct of the NFL sized rosters and "it's only fair that everyone gets to play" mentality is that in a close game in the late innings, you don't have exciting matchups like David Ortiz, Carlos Gonzalez, Joey Votto, Mike Trout, or Miguel Cabrera taking cuts against a parade of star closers. Instead you get the likes of Jhonny Peralta, Nelson Cruz, Domonic Brown, Jean Segura, and apparently Yangervis Solarte.
   37. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 13, 2014 at 11:46 AM (#4705811)
Likewise, the most unfortunate byproduct of the NFL sized rosters and "it's only fair that everyone gets to play" mentality is that in a close game in the late innings, you don't have exciting matchups like David Ortiz, Carlos Gonzalez, Joey Votto, Mike Trout, or Miguel Cabrera taking cuts against a parade of star closers. Instead you get the likes of Jhonny Peralta, Nelson Cruz, Domonic Brown, Jean Segura, and apparently Yangervis Solarte.

That could be easily dealt with by my longstanding proposal of giving managers complete control over the lineups and substituions, and paying the manager and players of the winning team a million dollars apiece, with the losing manager and players each getting a set of steak knives. It'd have the added benefit of jacking up the ratings, because for once it could really be said that THIS TIME IT COUNTS.
   38. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 13, 2014 at 11:52 AM (#4705817)
Clearly voter ID laws are needed here.
   39. jayjay Posted: May 13, 2014 at 12:03 PM (#4705828)
The real problem is that there are usually too many qualified players for too few roster spots

You honestly think there are too few All-Star roster spots?
   40. Greg K Posted: May 13, 2014 at 12:30 PM (#4705859)
What the hell ... the leagues don't really mean much anymore so how about fans just vote on all 3B and the top 2 start (alternating top vote-getters between the two teams) and everybody else is "drafted." If it's a DH year* then whoever gets the top DH finisher picks 2nd in both the pitcher draft and the bench draft. Gets you around the problem when all the good 3B are in one league.

Probably just because I'm not American, but I think a US vs. the World All-Star game would be fun. I think the NHL tried something similar a few years back?

Anyway, it would be fun.
   41. Sunday silence Posted: May 13, 2014 at 02:16 PM (#4705940)
No. 38 has it right. Next time at the DMV I expect the following:

"Ok now, do you consider yourself, caucasian, hispanic, american indian, or those other categories..?
"Can I just say none of the above?
"No its required for you to get a license.
"Ok, Im white.
"Next, do you want to be an organ donor in case of accident?
"Not really that sort of stuff creeps me out.
"Would you like to register as a voter?
"No, I cant stand the freakin state gummit.
"Which political party including unaffiliated do you consider yourself?
"I just said I dont want to vote.
"It's party affiliation, its a separate question.
"OK unaffiliated.
"Would you like to vote in the all star game?
"Hell yeah, did you see those motherf#ckers put Solarte out there last year?
   42. bjhanke Posted: May 13, 2014 at 04:47 PM (#4706072)
Walt (#25), I have no doubt that you are right. I know that on line has been tried, and that it got hacked - hell, it almost would HAVE to have been hacked, given the general rabidity of baseball fans. If it became the only method of voting, you'd get a '57 Cincy result real soon. Trying to figure out how to deal with this, I thought about combining on line with Bill James' old "precint" concept. The idea is that people in the, say, Yankees' precint would vote only for who would represent the Yankees. They wouldn't have to worry about who was going to represent the Angels, say. That would be the Angels' precinct. This would give the AL 15 roster spots, guaranteeing that every team got at least one each. The manager would then fill out the rest of the roster, so you could have more than, say, three pitchers for the whole game. The biggest problem would be trying to figure out which email addresses belonged to which precincts.

The result of trying this would, I think, be that the owners would suddenly get REAL serous about hacking. If the Cards worried about John Jay, say, being real popular with a small constituency and getting voted in by ballot stuffing, they'd hire a real good security firm. In fact, MLB as a whole would probably hire a security firm like that. Hacking would get much harder, and the security firm would find it easier to figure out whether hacking had happened or whether Cardinal fans are just crazy about John Jay, because they'd be a real gOOD security firm. Best thought I've had since I started thinking. Have no idea whether anyone else thinks the idea is anything but dreadful. - Brock Hanke
   43. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: May 13, 2014 at 04:55 PM (#4706074)
My biggest issue with the ASG is not the fan votes but the other guys. It's an exhibition and if the fans want to see Derek Jeter in an All Star Game one last time that's great. However, it is the blunders made by the players/managers that pick the remainder of the teams that are exasperating.

For me I want the best player on each team to make the roster and the top two players at each position to make it. Typically the fan balloting weeds out a large portion of these issues. It's this need to take the 4th best Royal to round out the pitching staff rather than just grabbing Eric Hosmer that results in silliness. It's how Scott Cooper wound up being a two time All Star.
   44. TJ Posted: May 13, 2014 at 08:46 PM (#4706176)

Does spelling count? If so, it's a pretty steep path for Yangervis Solarte.


I hope so- it would be a blast watching Yovani Gallardo starting at 3B for the AL...
   45. The Yankee Clapper Posted: May 13, 2014 at 10:39 PM (#4706249)
Future All-Star Yangervis Solarte homered tonight, while going 2 for 3 with a walk, so far.
   46. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 14, 2014 at 12:21 AM (#4706307)
The real problem is that there are usually too many qualified players for too few roster spots

You honestly think there are too few All-Star roster spots?


Not really. What I meant was only that when you combine the perennial all-stars having good years (the Cabreras) with the newly starring phenoms (like Harper last year) and the legacy choices that most all the fans want to see (like Jeter this year), you could probably fill bigger rosters in many years. I'm not saying that they should actually expand the rosters, only that a fair number of arguably deserving players often get left out.

When you had only 8 teams in each league and a requirement to include at least one player per team, there were plenty of years where there were a bunch of questionable all-stars.** But now with nearly twice as many teams drawing from a vastly expanded talent pool, even with a slightly bigger all-star roster the talent is much more concentrated.

**The AL bench in the 50's and 60's was often padded with mediocrities who likely never received a single HoF vote.
   47. Sunday silence Posted: May 14, 2014 at 03:59 AM (#4706373)
if you're trying to get integrity into the ballot process wouldnt it be simpler ditch the online stuff and simply go with ticket stubs as proof? One ticket stub from an actual MLB game gets you one ballot. You go to 50 games you get 50 votes, provided you show the proof you went.

I would think it harder to forge ticket stubs, yes?
   48. bjhanke Posted: May 14, 2014 at 05:48 AM (#4706376)
Sunday - I see what you're trying to accomplish, but to whom are you supposed to show/give your carefully-saved ticket stubs, and when?

The biggest problem with real weak All-Star players is the requirement that there be one guy from each team. Especially as the number of teams gets larger, there are just going to be some teams that don't HAVE an actual All-Star-caliber player. This did happen in the 1950s and 1960s, when I was just getting into baseball, but that was mostly due to to a then-unrecognized change in the economics of the game, which left people like Connie Mack and Calvin Griffith owning teams when they simply did not have the resources to find good players, pay them, and compete. Nowadays, the standard deviation of team quality may have gone down, but there are 15 teams per league, not 8.

I hate to say this (well, no I don't), but I remember the phenomenon of the old superstar who got voted into the starting lineup every year, despite not playing at an All-Star caliber any more. The obvious one when I was growing up was the aging Stan Musial. In 1957, when the Cincy newspaper rigged the voting, the one NON-Red who got voted as a starter was Stan. EVERYBODY wanted to see Stan, even if he was overmatched out there. Even if he just played his mandatory starter three innings and sat down. Comparing Stan Musial to Derek Jeter just makes me grind my teeth. - Brock Hanke, obsessive Musial fan

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