Sunday, July 1, 2012

Stuffed Panda

On Tuesday, Major League Baseball revealed its next-to-last voting results for the 2012 All-Star Game.  At the time, David Wright had amassed 2,687,818 votes from fans to be the starting third baseman for the National League.  His closest competition for the honor was the San Francisco Giants' Pablo Sandoval, who had received 2,223,269 votes.  Sandoval was 464,549 votes behind Wright with less than 72 hours of voting time remaining.  It should have been a shoo-in for Wright.  Instead, Giants fans are giving the rest of the baseball world some stuffed panda.

In what has become a shock to Mets fans and the baseball world, the man playfully known as Kung Fu Panda passed the Wright to become the National League's starting third baseman on Tuesday in Kansas City.  But he didn't just pass him by a couple thousand votes.  Rather, he blew by Wright faster than the fog blows into the San Francisco Bay.

Pablo Sandoval finished with 5,743,542 votes, compared to David Wright's final total of 4,133,380 votes, beating the Mets' third baseman by a whopping 1,619,162 votes.  In the final days of voting, Sandoval received over 2,000,000 more votes than Wright.  Over 3.5 million votes were cast for Sandoval in that time period, as opposed to less than 1.5 million cast for Wright.

Let's compare what Wright and Sandoval have done on the field in 2012 to see if Sandoval deserved to be voted in (stats through Saturday night's games):

  • David Wright: .355/.449/.564, 26 doubles, 2 triples, 9 HR, 50 RBI, 52 runs scored, 8 SB
  • Pablo Sandoval: .307/.366/.482, 11 doubles, 0 triples, 6 HR, 25 RBI, 26 runs scored, 0 SB

Now let's look at what David Wright's numbers were after June 5, which was approximately one month ago:

  • David Wright: .362/.465/.585, 19 doubles, 1 triple, 7 HR, 33 RBI, 37 runs scored, 5 SB

Notice anything interesting about those numbers?  David Wright could have missed every game after June 5 and still would have led Pablo Sandoval in every major offensive category.

But it's not just Sandoval supplanting Wright as the National League's starting third baseman by 1.5 million votes that gets to me.  It's also what Sandoval's teammate in San Francisco did.

Buster Posey is a very good player.  Is he an All-Star?  Yes.  But should he be the National League's starting catcher in the All-Star Game?  Don't make me laugh!  Here are Buster Posey's numbers (through Saturday, June 30) compared to the numbers put up by the Cardinals' Yadier Molina and the Phillies' Carlos Ruiz:

  • Buster Posey: .296/.363/.472, 14 doubles, 10 HR, 40 RBI, 31 runs scored, 3 SB
  • Yadier Molina: .311/.362/.510, 15 doubles, 12 HR, 44 RBI, 33 runs scored, 7 SB
  • Carlos Ruiz: .358/.423/.585, 19 doubles, 11 HR, 43 RBI, 38 runs scored, 3 SB

Posey leads Molina in on-base percentage by one one-thousandth of a point.  I guess that's good enough for the voters because Posey doesn't lead Molina or Ruiz in any other major offensive category.

And here's what really gets me.  Not only is Posey starting the All-Star Game over Molina and Ruiz, but he received the most votes of any National League player in the history of All-Star voting.  Let me repeat that in a new paragraph and use boldface so you can read that better.


Prior to Posey's vote count, no National Leaguer had ever surpassed the 6 million vote mark, let alone the 7 million mark.  (Ryan Braun held the previous record of 5,928,004 votes, set last year.)  Posey almost didn't set the record.  Wanna know why?  Because Melky Cabrera, who had never made an All-Star team in seven seasons in the big leagues "earned" 7,521,784 votes, a mere 99,586 votes fewer than Posey's tally.

When Buster Posey and Melky Cabrera receive more votes than any other player in National League player in history, that shows that something is wrong with the current fan voting format.  How could Pablo Sandoval get over 3.5 million votes in the final 72 hours of voting?  How did he get 3.5 million votes, period?

In 1957, fan balloting caused the Cincinnati Reds to have seven players voted to start the All-Star Game (the only non-Red to be voted in was future Hall of Famer Stan Musial).  Commissioner Ford Frick, clearly disturbed by the ballot stuffing in the Queen City, replaced Reds' players Gus Bell and Wally Post in the starting lineup with the more deserving Willie Mays and Hank Aaron.  He also took voting privileges away from the fans until 1970.

Perhaps that is what needs to be done here.  If MLB wants to say "this time it counts" with regards to the All-Star Game and its outcome determining home-field advantage in the World Series, then we should not have undeserving players determine that outcome.  It's time to put an end to farces such as this one.  If the All-Star Game is going to "count", then the votes counted should not be cast by ballot-stuffing fans.  The best players should play in the Midsummer Classic, not the players who play in the cities with the most supportive fans.

Fans of Major League Baseball should never have to be subjected to stuffed panda again.

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