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Opinion: All Star Ballots Have Become Popularity Contests

In many sports, the All Star game marks the middle of the season. Specifically in the MLB, the Midsummer Classic takes place in July, and it’s a fun break for the players to get together and play a friendly game before going into the final stretch of the season. It’s meant to bring together all the best-performing players from rival teams. I mean, where else will you see Mookie Betts and Aaron Judge taking a selfie with Mike Trout in the middle of the game? Along with the All Star Game, there’s a celebrity softball game that’ll honestly have some of the most random celebrities playing against each other, like Jojo Siwa pitching against Daddy Yankee.

Despite all the lightheartedness that surrounds these games, I think that they have somewhat lost their integrity and legitimacy throughout the years. While it’s great to have fan voting as a way to give the audience a way to interact, it’s a bit excessive to allow each email or person to vote up to five times per day. For example, what if that person has more than one email address? Then that one person and their votes are multiplied by ten, which can create an imbalance in the voting. A person could just vote for all their favorite team’s players, instead of voting for the players who deserve to be All Stars because of their numbers and the effort they have shown throughout the first half of the season. If we take a look at the 2015 All Star Game, throughout the first part of voting, some of the best players in the league at that point were struggling to stay on the ballot.These include some of the biggest players at the time, such as Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera, and Nolan Arenado.

From 1947 to 1957, fan voting was introduced to the league but was taken away after Cincinnati Reds fans stuffed hundreds of ballot boxes with Reds players until essentially the whole team was starting. This led to the commissioner taking voting away but reintroducing it in 1970 to create more excitement around the All Star Game.

The biggest problem with the voting system is that it takes an achievement that many players dream of right out of their hands.

Another reason to modify the voting system is because it’s also difficult to remember not just how your favorite team is performing but also hard to keep track of how good other players from around the league are. Voters easily go to the ballot and choose all the names that they recognize. On the ballot itself, it lists each player's batting average, OPS, and other basic stats. It might be easy enough to base selections off of those numbers, but those numbers don’t always directly reflect a player’s performance, and these vary by player.

Let’s take a look at an example:

In 2013, pitcher Chris Tillman acquired a total of 14 wins. Wins are a misleading stat since they can lead to the belief that a pitcher has so much control over the outcome of a game. While they certainly influence and matter, wins stats take away from the effort that needs to come from the team’s offense, defense, and relief pitching as well. If we take a look at just wins, Tillman would be considered better than Adam Wainwright, Felix Hernandez, and Clayton Kershaw, which would be an unfair comparison to those aces.

While MLB has taken steps to ensure a fairer voting system for the All Star Game, it still has a long way to go before it can regain the credibility and excitement that America’s pastime deserves. Still, the game is exciting, and you can take a look at some of this year’s All Star Finalists here!

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