With David Wright’s stunning loss to Pablo Sandoval in the voting to be the starting third baseman in the All-Star game, many people are calling for an end to fan voting to pick the starting lineup. I think that would be a mistake, but changes need to be made.
Wright held a several hundred thousand vote lead all throughout the process, then Sandoval somehow garnered enough votes in the final days of balloting to beat Wright by a whopping 1.6 million votes.
This was obviously a mistake, as Wright is at or near the top in most offense categories while Sandoval has missed significant time with injury. But overall the fans do a good job of choosing the starting lineup.
What needs to be changed, in my opinion, is the online voting process. Currently fans can vote 25 times per email address. Since most people have more than one email address, and since it is quite simple to set-up new email addresses just for this purpose, it is easy to stuff the ballot box. Hell, it is almost encouraged.
MLB needs to reduce the number of times people can vote. Just once would make sense, but that could take away some fan interest. Maybe one vote per email address per calender week. This way, fans can go back once a week for a month and vote, thus staying involved.
While everybody is lambasting the fans, the players and the team managers, who pick the rest of the squads, often do not do the best of jobs. For example, Tony La Russa picked Clayton Kershaw over far more deserving pitchers.
Before last night’s win, Kershaw was just 5-4 with a 2.74 ERA. He got the nod over his teammate Chris Capuano (9-3, 2.69), Madison Bumgarner (10-4, 2.85), Johnny Cueto (9-4, 2.26) and Zack Greinke (9-2, 2.82). La Russa probably had to pick a Dodger because Matt Kemp is going to have to be replaced, but then he should have chosen Capuano.
There are always going to be arguments about players unfairly left off of the teams. Maybe the league can add a couple of roster spots to cut down on that. But the first thing MLB should do is to change the online rules to eliminate ballot stuffing.