All star voting is always a touchy subject around baseball fans. It creates the fun kind of controversies that generate clicks and conversation that Major League Baseball so badly craves. But it can also generate a lot of angst, blame, and hot takes.
As the Dodgers have the most wins in the National League and are one win off the lead for tops in baseball, one would think they’d have at least one starter on the All Star roster. They should, but not because a healthy percentage of fans can’t watch games on TV, and its not solely because Los Angeles sports fans have a poor track record of turning up for these types of promotions.
Kenley Jansen has blamed fans. Fans have blamed the TV. The reality is, it’s mostly because there is a crowded field of talented players and a finite number of All-Star spots.
Zack Cozart vs Corey Seager
Corey Seager caught the proverbial shaft in 2016, as he was clearly the better performer at the All Star break and didn’t start because Cubs fans voted in droves. This year isn’t quite what it was in 2016, as Cozart is definitely a deserving candidate in his own right. He’s actually outperforming Corey Seager in slugging (.555 to .520), and he’s striking out less (17.9% to 21.1%).
Seager is doing Seager things, but he’s not outpacing Cozart drastically in any one category. With no true performance differentiator, it’s easy to see why Cozart’s voting was pacing ahead of Seager’s, especially when considering that west coast players often receive smaller audiences in National markets.
Cozart is having a career year, and the vote was as close as their actual performances. Its truly hard to say that he didn’t deserve it.
Justin Turner Vs Nolan Arenado Vs The Field (Lamb/Bryant/Rendon)
Justin Turner is absolutely locked in. He’s striking out at a career low rate, while also walking at a career high rate. He’s running an insanely low soft-contact rate of 9%, while playing his usual elite defense at third base. But the fact that he missed a few weeks of the season and he is running an insane .409 BABIP can’t be forgotten, which suggests he’s been a little lucky. Turner never really gets the recognition he deserves, but he isn’t necessarily that type of player anyways.
Arenado is as flashy a defender as they come. He consistently makes highlight reel defensive plays and had an amazing moment where he hit for the cycle on a walk off home run. He’s pretty great with the bat, even if he plays 81 games a year at Coors Field. He’s a star, and the kind of star MLB needs. The major differences in their performance lies in Arenado running a strong performance over a sample size 1/3 larger, while Turner has some stats that suggest he will regress.
And then there’s the field, which contains Kris Bryant, Anthony Rendon and the All Star Reserve Jake Lamb. All 3 are having phenomenal seasons, and all 3 have not missed time on the DL. Sadly, that is one of the things that really hurts Turner here in the eyes of some voters.
This one is more perplexing, but it simply comes down to innings pitched and competition. There are plenty of other deserving candidates who didn’t make the All Star team, like Felipe Rivero of the Pirates and Gio Gonzalez of the Nationals. But Wood really should make it, and he likely does once some injury players and Sunday pitchers drop off.
The year Wood is having really isn’t being as appreciated as it should. Wood has yet to lose a challenge, and he’s striking out almost a third of the batters he faces. He has the lowest home run rate in baseball, allowing just .24 HR/9. All of his peripherals reinforce just how dominant he has been, so to say that regression is coming is unlikely. Wood is locked in, and likely healthy for the first time in a while. His snub is the truly perplexing one.
Overall, since the prize of home field advantage has been removed from the end-result, the fact that this event has become a popularity contest is totally fine. MLB still puts out the best “All-Star” product of all 4 major sports, and it does a very good job of marketing this time period and stirring up talking points.