On Monday, MLB gave fans an update on where players from each team stand in the fans’ All-Star voting that opened to fans on June 3.
As it stands, Bryce Harper is the only player on the Phillies who will advance to Phase 2, though fans still have time to change that before Phase 1 voting concludes on June 24.
Phase 2 weeds out all but the three players at each position and nine outfielders in each league who receive the most votes.
Two observations stand out from this update:
1. Phillies fans are either not voting for their own players, or they are not voting.
Despite quite a few injuries, the Phillies are in second place in the NL East, won four straight over the weekend, and have some strong talent. Yet, Bryce Harper is currently the only Phillie who will be advancing to Phase 2. (Voting ends on June 24, if you’re interested.)
So, this means that Phillies fans are either not voting with hometown bias, which is admirable and fair, or more likely, many fans aren’t voting at all.
Despite dealing with nagging arm and shoulder injuries, Bryce Harper is having a strong season. He has 46 hits in 46 games, and he’s slashing .277/.391/.476 with eight home runs, 18 RBI, and five stolen bases (zero times caught). He’s matched his doubles total (9) from 2020 when he played twelve more games than he has so far this year.
Harper is tied for first in Fielding % among right-fielders, but he is not in the top-10 for any Batting Leaders categories. He might be one of the best and most popular players on the Phillies, but that is not necessarily the same thing as having an All-Star season.
2. Fans really should not be allowed to vote for the All-Star Game.
The overarching fact is that MLB gives fans the option to vote for almost anyone they want, and it is unfair to the players who truly deserve to be All-Stars.
You love your team, but be honest: is your favorite player having an All-Star-caliber season, or are they just your favorite player?
The voting page’s header even reads “Help Your Favorites Advance.” Not the best players, your favorite players. Encouraging fans to turn the All-Star Game into a popularity contest is insulting to the players who’ve actually earned the honor.
If MLB wants to continue allowing fans to vote, they should set some requirements, such as a minimum number of games played or a minimum qualifying OPS. In 2018, Dustin Pedroia was on the ballot as the Red Sox second baseman, but he only played three games the entire season.
The following season, Aaron Judge played 20 games before going on the Injured List from April 21 until June 21, yet he was an All-Star finalist. Why? Because he’s one of the most famous players on one of the most popular teams in professional sports, as evidenced by the fact that 2019 was the third year in a row in which Judge’s jersey was the top-seller in all of MLB.
This year, Didi Gregorius is on the ballot for the Phillies, despite not appearing in a game since May 17, and recently experiencing a setback in his rehab assignment in Triple-A. Mike Trout is one of the greatest players of this era, but he’s been injured since mid-May, with a recovery time of 6-8 weeks, meaning he might not even be healthy in time for the game; he currently has the most votes of any American League outfielder.
Most fans vote on name recognition and hometown bias because they like who they like. But the All-Star Game is supposed to be about the best players in baseball, not our favorite players in baseball.