How MLB All-Star Voting Can Better Represent The Fans

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By John Sheridan

Major League Baseball just began the fan voting for the 2022 All-Star Game, the 92nd Midsummer Classic. At this point, we need to finally admit the entire voting system is completely and utterly wrong.

Throughout baseball history, MLB has placed importance on having every team being represented to keep the fans of every team engaged. The presumption is you are more likely going to tune in to watch a game if you are tuning in to see a player from your favorite team play in the game.

While this is much maligned and debated, there is some veracity to this. After all, in 2015, Mets fans couldn't wait to see Jacob deGrom pitch, and to this day, his striking out the side on 10 pitches is part of the lore of the best pitcher in baseball. We all tuned in again in 2018 to see if he could replicate that feat.

So yes, having a representative drove Mets fans to watch. However, that's not always the case. In 1993, Mets fans weren't too excited to tune in to watch the unpopular Bobby Bonilla as the team's lone representative. The same can be said in 2003 with Armando Benítez. With that in mind, what is baseball really accomplishing by having Bonilla and Benítez shoehorned into the game as the Mets’ lone representatives?

The answer is nothing but tradition. While the idea is good in theory, in practice, it needs better implementation. The solution is to just let the fans choose their representative.

Back in 1993, Mets fans could have selected the popular Dwight Gooden, who ended up leading the team in WAR that season. In 2003, they could have opted for popular players like Al Leiter or Mike Piazza. Again, if you want Mets fans to tune into the game, give them a reason to tune into the game.

As an aside, it’s always bizarre that fans can vote for any position but starting pitcher. Why is it that fans can say they want to see a particular designated hitter, but they can't say they want to see the best starting pitcher in baseball? Of course, revamping the voting can change that.

Think across baseball right now. Depressed Cincinnati Reds fans can send Joey Votto, a truly great Red, one last time. Baltimore Orioles fans can send beloved slugger and cancer survivor Trey Mancini. Detroit Tigers fans can opt between one last hurrah for Miguel Cabrera or to get a glimpse of young phenom Tarik Skubal against the best players in the world.

Again, this accomplishes the exact purpose behind having every team represented. It gets fans of all teams involved in the voting, and it increases the chances they'll watch the game because the game will feature the player they want to see.

It will also accomplish another issue. Over the years, we have seen one fan base or another stuff the ballots to vote in an under-deserving All-Star. One example was Pablo Sandoval over David Wright in 2012. There are countless other examples. Under this construct, Wright would be the selected representative by Mets fans, and back then, Giants fans likely opt for Buster Posey, making Wright vs. Sandoval a non-issue.

If MLB is smart, they can extrapolate this out for publicity and more engagement. There can be a day announcing the selected representatives from every team. They can then announce the rosters and have fans vote for the starters from the players selected from the team.

Perhaps, you can reveal who won the fan vote at the All-Star Game when the starting lineups are announced. Maybe, just maybe, that will get more fans to tune into the beginning of the game. Once you have them there, the hope is they'll watch the whole way through, or at least until the player they wanted there pitches an inning or gets an at-bat.

In the end, this is an exhibition. Let the fans see the players they want to see, and engage fans longer by voting throughout the process. It is a win-win for everyone involved, and it would be even better if we got to see our favorite players wearing their team's jerseys and not those hideous All-Star Game jerseys.

About the Author: John was raised to be a Mets fan by birth, and now he is raising a Mets fan of his own. He also uses Sabermetrics to either confirm the proverbial eye test or to see if we're seeing things with Mets colored glasses. His work, including the tales of raising his son a Mets fan, can also be seen at MetsDaddy.com, and you can follow him on Twitter @metsdaddy2013.

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