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MLB Got The Fan All-Star Voting Right

[caption id="attachment_176453" align="alignnone" width="640"]
Fans elected five Cubs as NL starters, though Dexter Fowler did not play because of injury (Photo by Bill Mitchell) Fans elected five Cubs as NL starters, though Dexter Fowler did not play because of injury (Photo by Bill Mitchell)[/caption]

DENVER–Major League Baseball gets it. The game has tinkered with the methods for selecting all-star teams over the years.

Well, take a bow, MLB. It can’t get much better than this year.

The fans get to pick the All-Star Game starting lineups. It is, after all, their game.

The players get to pick the backups at each position. They do, after all, have an insight into whom they fear.

And if that doesn’t cover all the bases, what does? Sometimes the two sides even agree.

Eight of the nine starting position players on the American League team finished atop the fan and player voting. The only exception was the fans’ choice of first baseman Eric Hosmer of the Royals. The Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera was the choice of the players, but he was still in uniform at Petco Park in San Diego.

Underscoring the difference between the leagues, the fans and players didn’t agree on any of the eight position players in the National League.

That’s OK, the top vote-getters from both were in San Diego for the game, and every one of them got into the game. It is not unusual for backups to get more at-bats than starters.

Oh, there will be complaints from various fan bases about how the Cubs faithful overpowered the rest of the NL, electing center fielder Dexter Fowler and the entire infield: Anthony Rizzo at first, Ben Zobrist at second, Kris Bryant at third and Addison Russell at short. The starting infield represented by one team hadn’t happened since the 1963 Cardinals—though in that case one starter was an injury replacement.

Don’t like it? Well, as they say in the dugout, put up or shut up.

Wrigley Wrangling

Why did Cubs fans get their way? Because they made an effort to make their feelings known by voting. Hey, they are excited at Wrigley Field this summer, thinking the Cubs might snap that World Series championship drought that dates back to 1908.

It’s not like big cities have had an edge in the voting over the years. The Yankees, for example, had a stretch of 13 postseason appearances from 1995 through 2007, during which they had a total of just 18 players elected to the AL starting lineup. They did not have a starter elected in 1998, 1999 or 2001.

Besides, if MLB feels something fishy was going on in the voting, there is precedent for the situation to be addressed. Back in 1957, when Reds fans stuffed the ballot box and Cardinals first baseman Stan Musial was the only elected starter who didn’t play for Cincinnati, MLB replaced outfielders Gus Bell and Wally Post with future Hall of Famers Willie Mays and Hank Aaron and took the fan vote away for 13 years, finally restoring it in 1970.

And a year ago, when eight Royals were leading the fan balloting in the next-to-last ballot, MLB voided 65 million votes for technical reasons. The Royals wound up with catcher Salvador Perez, center fielder Lorenzo Cain, shortstop Alcides Escobar and left fielder Alex Gordon voted to the lineup.

So don’t moan. Celebrate.

Still Got It Right

Yes, Buster Posey was voted the NL catcher by the fans over the Nationals’ Wilson Ramos, who was the top vote-getter among the players. But what’s not to like about Posey, who is the anchor of the lineup for a first-place Giants team.

And for young players such as Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado, who finished behind Bryant in the fan voting, and Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager, beaten by Russell at shortstop, it is every bit a rush to know they finished No. 1 in the voting by their peers. Arenado led everyone with 742 votes in the player voting.

Just think of the bench depth that was provided to Mets manager Terry Collins, who managed the NL team. In addition to Arenado and Seager, the extras on his lineup card included Paul Goldschmidt, Daniel Murphy, Marcell Ozuna, Carlos Gonzalez and Adam Duvall. (Ozuna and Gonzalez wound up starting as injury replacements.)

It’s not like baseball has to apologize for the NL starting lineup. In addition to the quintet of Cubs, plus Posey at catcher, the fans also elected outfielders Bryce Harper of the Nationals, the defending NL MVP winner, and Yoenis Cespedes of the Mets.

Is the system perfect? Nah. But it’s very good.

Nick Madrigal Danielshirleygetty

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