Three Ways to ‘Improve’ the All-Star Game: How does USA vs. the World sound?

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There was a lot of chatter, including from national writers, about the All-Star’s Game’s selection process, ways to fix it, so on and so forth, mainly because of the voting of Royals fans. Royals fans, who at one point were on pace to vote in EIGHT starters into the All-Star Game, used the “don’t hate the player, hate the game” rally cry. And, we’re right. It is the system that is broke. No, there was not any cheating, no hacking the All-Star vote. Yes, there was some ballot stuffing, but it was within the rules that MLB allows. So, don’t cry foul when it’s not a foul. All of a sudden a tradition is all of a sudden wrong because a fan base makes a mockery of a system that the league itself put in place? In the end, the nation caught up in voting, and it all worked out. Omar Infante did not get voted in, although it went down to the last week before he was finally passed. And the Royals still had a franchise record four starters and seven total players elected to the 2015 All-Star Game.

The All-Star selection process has always been wrong. Players get voted in as starters every year that should not be starting, or not even in the game. But, that’s what it’s always been, about the fans and who they want to see. But, it can be improved. Despite the Pro Bowl being a complete joke, and it’s fantasy draft for roster selection is absolutely terrible, the NFL’s “All-Star” game selection joke is the best. Fans voice is still heard, comprising one-third of the process, and player and coaches make up the other two-thirds (1/3 each). This would absolutely be the best way to go about it for MLB. If they are serious about getting the best, most deserving players into the All-Star Game, then systematically, this would be the way to do it. You don’t take the fans voice away, but, you improve the chances of them voting someone in that isn’t deserving. When a fringe player is voted in, the domino effect is someone who is deserving losing a spot. Now, “deserving” is who gets voted in. With the current process, they’ve “earned” it.

I am not a big fan of the All-Star game “counting.” It’s an exhibition, yet it decides home field advantage for the World Series. I’d think a lot are in agreement with me that there is no way this is how homefield should be decided. How about the team with the best record through a 162-game season, gets the nod – the team with the best record remaining in the playoffs has home field, you know, like in every other sport.

Thirdly, if the All-Star game should be truly what All-Star Game’s are…an exhibition. As we close in on first pitch of the 86th annual All-Star Game, just two days after the Futures Game, it really got me thinking. What, if the All-Star Game was USA vs. everyone else? The All-Star Game is the longest running All-Star Game and definitely the most watched, but it has lost viewership over the years, slowing decreasing since 1988. Part of this is due to interleague play. It used to be the National League and American League wanted to win the game badly. They wanted to do it for league pride. The game’s were much more competitive. The players played the game hard, almost like it was a postseason game. It was a chance to see the star’s from the other league that you NEVER got to see. It’s different now. The AL and NL play each other year round, and it’s lost some of its appeal. Also, the average ago of the baseball fan has increased. The game is long and its “boring” to the younger generation. Fandom is Kansas City is expanding, but, it’s not like that nationally. To increase interest, a USA vs. the World game could be truly entertaining. It could gain more viewers, around the world, as it becomes more of an international showcase. Americans, and the game they invented, against everyone else. I think there is some intrigue, there. This is the 12th All-Star game that will determine how field advantage. I get they wanted to add meaning to the game, but why add meaning to an exhibition game? Instead, accept it for what it is. The DH has been added to the game, to make it more exciting. Ratings are still down.

So, I’ll ask you, how does USA vs. the World sound?

Let’s take a look at what it could look like. We presented above a better selection process, BUT, we’ll just this year’s All-Star’s to fill out the rosters, and to make adjustments along the way, eliminating and adding to the pool of All-Star players, when needed. Every team will still have a representative.

***

USA

C Buster Posey, Giants (.314/.381/.498, 14 HR, 58 RBI)

1B Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona (.340/.455/.610, 21 HR, 70 RBI, 16 SB)

2B Jason Kipinis, Indians (.323/.401/.487, 6 HR, 37 RBI, 10 SB)

3B Josh Donaldson, Blue Jays (.293/.351/.532, 21 HR, 60 RBI)

SS Brandon Crawford, Giants (.262/.331/.465, 12 HR, 52 RBI)

LF Mike Trout, Angels (.312/.405/614, 26 HR, 55 RBI, 9 SB)

CF Lorenzo Cain, Royals (.316/.373/.491, 8 HR, 42 RBI, 17 SB)

RF Bryce Harper, Nationals (.339/.464/.704, 26 HR, 61 RBI)

DH Prince Fielder, Rangers (.339/.403/.521, 14 HR, 54 RBI)

Reserves

C Stephen Vogt, Oakland (.287/.374/.498, 14 HR, 56 RBI)

1B Anthony Rizzo, Cubs (.298/.413/.542, 16 HR, 48 RBI)

2B DJ LeMahieu, Rockies (.311/.365/.397, 4 HR, 35 RBI, 10 SB)

2B Joe Panik, Giants (.308/.372/.820, 7 HR, 33 RBI)

3B Manny Machado, Orioles (.298/.361/.525, 19 HR, 48 RBI, 13 SB)

3B Todd Frazier, Reds (.284/.337/.585, 25 HR, 57 RBI)

3B Nolan Arenado, Rockies (.293/.329/.598, 24 HR, 70 RBI)

SS Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies (.313/.351/.480, 10 HR, 49 RBI)

OF Andrew McCutchen, Pirates (.295/.392/.500, 12 HR, 56 RBI)

OF Joc Pederson, Dodgers (.230/.364/.487, 20 HR, 40 RBI)

OF AJ Pollock, D-Backs (.299/.350/.464, 11 HR, 42 RBI, 19 SB)

OF Justin Upton, Padres (.253/.331/.422, 14 HR, 48 RBI, 17 SB)

OF JD Martinez, Tigers (.289/.347/.565, 25 HR, 59 RBI)

Pitchers

SP Chris Sale, White Sox (8-4, 2.72 ERA, 0.95 WHIP)

SP Zack Greinke, Dodgers (8-2, 1.39 ERA, 0.84 WHIP)

SP Dallas Keuchel, Astros (11-4, 2.23 ERA, 1.00 WHIP)

SP David Price, Tigers (9-2, 2.38 ERA, 1.12 WHIP)

SP Chris Archer, Rays (9-6, 2.74 ERA, 1.02 WHIP)

SP Shelby Miller, Braves (5-5, 2.38 ERA, 1.15 WHIP)

SP Jacob deGrom, Mets (9-6, 21.4 ERA, 0.92 WHIP)

SP Madison Bumgarner, Giants (9-5, 3.33 ERA, 1.11 WHIP)

SP Michael Wacha, Cardinals (10-3, 2.93 ERA, 1.10 WHIP)

RP Wade Davis, Royals (5-1, 0.46 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 9 SV, 12 HD)

RP Glen Perkins, Twins (0-2, 1.21 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 28 saves)

RP Mark Melancon, Pirates (1-1, 1.47 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 29 saves)

RP Jonathan Papelbon, Phillies (1-1, 1.60 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 14 saves)

The American roster is LOADED at pitcher. Both All-Star Game starters, Greinke and Keuchel; Mad-Bum, Sale, etc. – the list goes on. After removing Max Scherzer (because he pitched on Sunday), Clayton Kershaw (his replacement) and the A’s Sonny Gray (pitched Sunday), there were still 19 American All-Star’s. Some tough decisions, here, as there’s only 13 All-Star pitchers on each roster. To eliminate, we used ERA+, WHIP, FIPx and WAR. We had seven pitchers that were NOT in the league leaders (Top 10 for starters, Top 5 for relief pitchers). One of them – Tampa closer Brad Boxberger – was not ranked in ANY of the four categories. The other six, except Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon and Cards closer Trevor Rosenthal, were ranked in three of the four areas, but the Phillies need a representative, so Papelbon goes, knocking out MLB’s win leader, Gerrit Cole.

We’re also carrying four 3B and 8 OF’s, but, with just one DH on the roster, one of each can slide into DH.

Oh, and how about Mike Trout and Bryce Harper in the same outfield?

Players Replaced

2B Dee Gordon, Marlins* (.338/.359/.413, 1 HR, 22 RBI, 33 SB)

OF Alex Gordon, Royals**  (.279/.394/.457, 11 HR, 39 RBI)

OF Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins** (.265/.346/.606, 27 HR, 67 RBI)

OF Matt Holliday, Cardinals* (.303/.417/.421, 3 HR, 26 RBI)

SP Max Scherzer, Nats# (10-7, 2.11 ERA, 0.78 WHIP)

SP Sonny Gray, A’s# (10-3, 2.04 ERA, 0.96 WHIP)

*injury

**DL

#started on Sunday

All-Star’s NOT used

1B Matt Teixeira, Yankees

2B Brian Dozier, Twins

3B Mike Moustakas, Royals

3B Kris Bryant, Cubs

OF Adam Jones, Orioles (lowest WAR of the outfielders besides Adam Jones, BUT, Padres need a representative)

OF Brett Gardner, Yankees

OF Ryan Braun, Brewers

IF/OF Brock Holt (Because Xander Bogaerts and Koji Uehara makes World team, there’s no need for Holt as the Red Sox representative),

SP Gerrit Cole, Pirates

SP AJ Burnett, Pirates

SP Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers

RP Zach Britton, Orioles

RP Darren O’Day, Orioles

RP Trevor Rosenthal, Cardinals

RP Brad Boxberger, Rays

***

For the World roster, it was tough. We went with WAR to fill out the extra position players, and for the pitchers, we went with the same method we used in eliminating AL pitchers.

World

C Salvador Perez, Royals (.262/.273/.453, 15 HR, 38 RBI)

1B Joey Votto, Reds (.277/.392/.484, 15 HR, 42 RBI)

2B Jose Altuve, Astros (.293/.335/.412, 8 HR, 38 RBI, 25 SB)

3B Adrian Beltre, Rangers (.255/.290/.396, 7 HR, 22 RBI)

SS Alcides Escobar, Royals (.290/.327/.372, 2 HR, 33 RBI)

LF Nelson Cruz, Mariners (.308/.373/.546, 21 HR, 53 RBI)

CF Yoenis Cespedes, Tigers (.297/.322/.499, 13 HR, 51 RBI)

RF Jose Bautista, Blue Jays (.239/.381/.491, 17 HR, 60 RBI)

DH Albert Pujols, Angels (.255/.323/.532, 26 HR, 56 RBI)

Reserves

C Russell Martin, Blue Jays (.251/.339/.457, 12 HR, 41 RBI)

C Yadi Molina, Cardinals (.284/.323/.358, 2 HR, 32 RBI)

C Yasmani Grandal, Dodgers (.282/.401/.526, 14 HR, 36 RBI)

1B Adrian Gonzalez, Dodgers (.283/.355/.520, 18 HR, 55 RBI)

1B Freddie Freeman, Braves (.299/.367/.520, 12 HR, 41 RBI)

SS Jhonny Peralta, Cardinals (.298/.355/.473, 13 HR, 46 RBI)

SS Jose Iglesias, Tigers (.314/.364/.373, 1 HR, 15 RBI, 9 SB)

SS Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox (.304/.338/.411, 3 HR, 43 RBI)

IF Yunel Escobar, Nationals (.321/.369/.407, 4 HR, 27 RBI)

OF Starling Marte, Pirates (.279/.328/.455, 13 HR, 49 RBI, 16 SB)

OF David Peralta, D-Backs (.267/.345/.471, 8 HR, 39 RBI)

OF Juan Lagares, Mets (.256/.284/.339, 3 HR, 25 RBI)

OF Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies (.259/.314/.452, 13 HR, 35 RBI)

Pitchers

SP Felix Hernandez, Mariners (11-5, 2.84 ERA, 1.07 WHIP)

SP Carlos Martinez, Cardinals (10-3, 2.52 ERA, 1.22 WHIP)

SP Hector Santiago, Angels (6-4, 2.33 ERA, 1.10 WHIP)

SP Michael Pineda, Yankees (9-5, 3.64 ERA, 1.20 WHIP)

SP Francisco Liriano, Pirates (5-6, 2.98 ERA, 1.03 WHIP)

SP Bartolo Colon, Mets (9-7, 4.46 ERA, 1.23 WHIP)

SP Ubaldo Jimenez, Orioles (7-4, 2.81 ERA, 1.27 WHIP)

RP Dellin Betances, Yankees (5-2, 1.53 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 7 SV, 13 HD)

RP Ardolis Chapman, Reds (3-3, 1.69 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 18 saves)

RP Kelvin Herrera, Royals (1-2, 1.95 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 13 holds)

RP Francisco Rodriguez, Brewers (0-2, 1.41 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 19 saves)

RP Jeurys Familia, Mets (2-0, 1.25 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 27 saves)

RP Kohi Uehara, Red Sox (2-3, 2.45 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 22 saves)

Replaced Players

1B Miguel Cabrera, Tigers** (.350/.456/.578, 15 HR, 54 RBI)

OF Nori Aoki, Giants** (.317/.383/.385, 2 HR, 19 RBI, 12 SB)

SP Johnny Cueto, Reds# (6-6, 2.73 ERA, 0.90 WHIP)

*injury

**DL

#started on Sunday

Non-All-Star’s added to roster

1B Joey Votto

1B Freddie Freeman

3B Yunel Escobar

SS Xander Bogaerts

OF Starling Marte

OF David Peralta

OF Juan Lagares

OF Carlos Gonzalez

SP Michael Pineda

SP Francisco Liriano

SP Bartolo Colon

SP Ubaldo Jimenex

RP Jeurys Familia

RP Kohi Uehara

Note: Some positional unbalance here, but it was slim picking at some positions. Carrying four catchers, one, such as Yasmani Grandal, could DH. In the infield, there is not one reserve 2B. While there are three reserve shortstops, one, such as Bogaerts, who has played some third in his career, could slide over to third. Yunel Escobar, who has played all 74 games in the field this year at 3B, has played second in his career and could play there, if needed. So could Peralta or Iglesias. We also left Jose Bautista on the roster, despite him backing out of the real game, simply because we needed the bodies.

Representatives by team:

  • Arizona (3)
  • Atlanta (2)
  • Baltimore (2)
  • Boston (2)
  • Cubs (1)
  • White Sox (1)
  • Cincinnati (4)
  • Cleveland (1)
  • Colorado (4)
  • Detroit (5)
  • Houston (2)
  • Kansas City (6)
  • Angels (3)
  • Dodgers (4)
  • Miami (2)
  • Milwaukee (1)
  • Minnesota (1)
  • NY Mets (4)
  • Yankees (2)
  • Oakland (2)
  • Phillies (1)
  • Pittsburgh (4)
  • San Diego (1)
  • San Francisco (4)
  • Seattle (2)
  • St. Louis (5)
  • Tampa Bay (1)
  • Texas (2)
  • Toronto (3)
  • Washington (3)

***

This isn’t perfect. This year, Team USA has a HUGE advantage over the World, and we had to “cut” some legit All-Star’s (13), while the World roster had to be filled out with 14 non-All-Star’s. But, it hasn’t worked out this way every year. Generally, the competitive balance would be pretty fair.

The MLB All-Star Game is the best of the All-Star Game’s. The NBA’s is entertaining, but, its not always ‘real’ basketball. MLB’s is real baseball and I am excited to watch it every year – even more now that the Royals are sending more and more players. The MLB All-Star Game is a timeless tradition. But, it can still be better, from the game itself all the way down to the selection process. USA versus the World sounds like an intriguing matchup and a more entertaining exhibition – which is what the All-Star Game should be, a meaningless exhibition.

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