He’s only slashing .236/.377/.489, but Anthony Rizzo is leading all NL players in All-Star voting. As of Wednesday afternoon, Rizzo’s name has appeared on 874,471 ballots, almost 36,000 more than second-place Bryce Harper. And the struggling Cubs first baseman isn’t alone either. All of his infield teammates lead their respective positions, Dexter Fowler is second among all outfielders, and Miggy Montero is third among catchers. No Grandpa Rossy, though? Boooooo.
Cubs 1B Anthony Rizzo paces the NL in fan balloting for the 2016 MLB All-Star Game presented by MasterCard. pic.twitter.com/hIgb4KMwAn
— MLB Communications (@MLB_PR) June 1, 2016
Cubs fans are effectively Royals-ing the voting process, absolutely overwhelming the ballot box to get their favorite players to the Midsummer Classic. A strong case can be made for Ben Zobrist, Kris Bryant, and Dexter Fowler, all of whom lead the NL in WAR at their positions. Zobrist actually leads all MLB second baseman, while Bryant and Fowler are second in baseball at third base (Manny Machado) and outfield (Mike Trout).
While there’s an argument that Addison Russell is the best defensive shortstop in the league, it’s a stretch to say he’s the best overall at this point in the season. And Rizzo’s prolonged struggles in May leave him a pretty distant second to Paul Goldschmidt. Kinda crazy that they’re leading the ballots then, let alone that Rizzo has more votes than anyone else in the league.
Ah, but the All-Star Game isn’t necessarily about putting the very best lineup out there. It’s about the players fans want to see. That’s why the starters are selected by popular vote and not by a less subjective process. And even though it’s ripe for all kinds of shenanigans, don’t think for a second that Major League Baseball is going to make any major changes to the voting process anytime soon.
Is it fair to the players like Goldschmidt or Corey Seager or Brandon Crawford? No. But would putting the most deserving players in the starting lineup get a bunch of people talking about the voting process and results? Would bloggers write about it? Would spurned fans take to [insert preferred social media platform] in order to be mad online about how stupid the whole thing is and what a sham it is?
I used to complain about the fan vote determining starters, but I was viewing it from the wrong angle. The whole point of the ASG vote is to engage fans, and that’s exactly what this is doing. Not only do you get a bunch of Cubs fans voting early and often to get their favorite players to San Diego, but now you’ve got fans of the lagging players trying to give their guys a lift. It’s really the perfect scenario for Rob Manfred and Co.
Okay, now that I think about it, seeing Jason Heyward fourth and Jorge Soler sixth among outfielders is a little silly. I mean, they’re far enough back that there’s really no chance they’ll be voted in as starters, but still.
There will be four more updates (6/8, 6/15, 6/21, TBD) on the voting totals over the coming weeks, which means plenty more time to either fawn or fume over the results. So what do you think, do the Cubs end up holding onto the top spots all around? Can Cubs fans create a big enough write-in wave to let Ol’ Graybeard surf to SoCal? We’ll find out soon enough.