Monday, July 02, 2007

End Fan Suffrage -- MLB Edition

Every year every sport (except football!) goes through a process of the fans voting on the starting lineups at their respective all-star games. This yearly song-and-dance nearly always ends in bad snub leading a national media outcry that the fans don't know dick. And you know if the national media says it, it must be true!!

Well here's the thing... this time it is true.

This year's example: Ivan Rodriguez

Yes, yes, I know that The Guy Who Stole Carlton Fisk's Nickname is one of the two best catchers over the past decade of baseball and is a future Hall of Famer, but that does not an all-star starter make. Even with Joe Mauer's injury, Rodriguez (call him I-Rod and I'll frigging kill you) has been the third, and possibly fourth, best catcher in the American League to this point in '07. Observe the stats as of this morning:

Ivan Rodriguez.280.293.444.7378433323.1%
Jorge Posada.336.405.525.9309
Victor Martinez.323.384.543.927146340
Kenji Johjima.300.340.468.808832

Posada and Martinez have numbers that are far and away better than Rodriguez's and you could make a strong case that Rodriguez over Johjima is an all-star snub in 2007. Rodriguez has a passable batting average at .280, but an on-base percentage under .300 and a sub-.750 OPS is flat-out unacceptable for an all-star (most all-stars usually have an OPS around .900).

"But his defense makes up for his offense," you say. It's a classic argument to defend Ivan Rodriguez. But this year the usually laser-armed Tigers catcher is only sixth in the AL for percentage of runners thrown out trying to steal at 23.1%. Even Martinez--previously inept in the Caught Stealing category--is ahead of him on the list, making it hard to maintain such an argument.

Obviously this is one of many cases where a combination of the silly fan vote combined with the archaic notion of representing every team at the all-star game is hurting the game's credibility. Look, if it's an exhibition game these things are fine... but if you're going to have the All-Star Game determine home field advantage in the freaking World Series... you need to absolutely have the best players in the All-Star Game. That starts with saying goodbye to the fan vote.

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