The All-Stars Are Named

Before we look at the MLB All-Star rosters which were named yesterday, and included Jose Bautista, not only becoming the top vote getter as the first starting Blue Jays player since Carlos Delgado in 2003, but also setting a new record for the most total votes for an All-Star ever, let’s get one thing out of the way: Yep, they’re a little bit flawed.

How else to explain why Michael Cuddyer is an All-Star and Mark Teixeira isn’t, or how Derek Jeter is a starter in this year’s Mid-Summer Classic despite being ranked by WAR as the tenth best shortstop, just in the American League?

Is it fair? Nope. But is it worth getting all eaten up inside about? Absolutely not.

The starting lineup is obviously selected by fans, and if Yankees supporters are able to coordinate their efforts to a degree that ensures four ninths of their own starting lineup getting voted in, then by all means let it be so. As big of a fan base as New York has, it isn’t larger than of every other baseball fan in the world combined. Those who care enough to vote, will probably care enough to watch, and isn’t that what this exhibition game is all about: giving the majority of fans what they want.

The next 16 players (backups and pitchers) are voted on by the players, and as curious as some of their selections may be (Jay Bruce over Andrew McCutchen?), it’s hard to argue against the players themselves getting some sort of say in how they’re represented.

After that, the manager chooses eight more players, plus the starting designated hitter for the National League. It’s his task to ensure that every team gets at least one representative on the roster. MLB then decides which final five players comprise the candidates for the final roster spot which is again voted on by the fans.

Again, there’s a ton of evidence to suggest that this system is flawed, but honestly, while there’s a lot about the rules and policies in baseball that I’ll complain about, this isn’t one of them. Three distinct parties, all with a huge part to play in how a typical game is played out, get to decide on who participates in the marquee match of the regular season.

Sometimes, this is going to yield unfair results, but more important to me is that the fans, players and managers get to decide who plays in the game. The sports’ biggest supporters get to see who the majority of them want to see, the players make sure that they’re properly represented and the managers further ensure that every team gets at least one player on the roster.

It’s the least complicated system of checks and balances possible for something that shouldn’t be taken too seriously anyway. After all, it’s just a game.

American League

Starters

C Alex Avila
1B Adrian Gonzalez
2B Robinson Cano
3B Alex Rodriguez
SS Derek Jeter
OF Jose Bautista
OF Curtis Granderson
OF Josh Hamilton
DH David Ortiz

Pitchers

SP Justin Verlander
SP Felix Hernandez
SP Gio Gonzalez
SP Josh Beckett
SP David Price
SP James Shields
SP Jered Weaver
SP C.J. Wilson
RP Chris Perez
RP Jose Valverde
RP Aaron Crow
RP Mariano Rivera
RP Brandon League

Bench

C Matt Wieters
C Russell Martin
1B Miguel Cabrera
2B Howie Kendrick
3B Adrian Beltre
SS Asdrubal Cabrera
OF Jacoby Ellsbury
OF Carlos Quentin
OF Michael Cuddyer
OF Matt Joyce
DH Michael Young

And one of:

OF Alex Gordon
OF Adam Jones
1B Paul Konerko
DH Victor Martinez
OF/2B Ben Zobrist

National League

Starters

C Brian McCann
1B Prince Fielder
2B Rickie Weeks
3B Placido Polanco
SS Jose Reyes
OF Ryan Braun
OF Lance Berkman
OF Matt Kemp

Pitchers

SP Roy Halladay
SP Clayton Kershaw
SP Cole Hamels
SP Tim Lincecum
SP Jair Jurrjens
SP Matt Cain
SP Cliff Lee
SP Ryan Vogelsong
RP Jonny Venters
RP Joel Hanrahan
RP Heath Bell
RP Tyler Clippard
RP Brian Wilson

Bench

C Yadier Molina
1B Joey Votto
1B Gaby Sanchez
2B Brandon Phillips
3B Chipper Jones
SS Starlin Castro
SS Troy Tulowitzki
OF Justin Upton
OF Hunter Pence
OF Jay Bruce
OF Carlos Beltran
OF Matt Holliday

And one of:

OF Shane Victorino
OF Mike Morse
OF Andre Ethier
1B Todd Helton
SP Ian Kennedy