Look, I rarely take stock in All-Star Game voting, or even the All-Star Games themselves. I am a part of the small minority who liked the fact that the Midsummer Classic held some weight at one point. I loved watching those games, and it pains me that I ever agreed with Bud Selig on anything.
However, every now and then something ASG related will catch my eye. Joc Pederson and Todd Frazier’s dramatic downturn after the 2015 Home Run Derby, Mike Trout’s yearly reminder that he’s the best player we will see this century, and Dellin Betances’ Home Run Derby reactions got my attention. I like those things.
What I don’t like are snubs, and we had possibly the most egregious one in a very long time.
I’ve already written about Blake Snell in a piece that was so good I got a casual death threat from a Rays fan on Twitter. Take a look for yourself. Honestly, it’s not my best work. So despite facing a Tampa Bay Fatwa, I’m going to talk about one of the best pitchers in the American League, and how it’s a travesty he’s not on the All-Star Roster before being added as a replacement for Corey Kluber this past week.
At publication, Blake Snell is third in the AL in ERA, behind Cy Young Winners and yearly candidates, Chris Sale and Justin Verlander. Snell’s 2.27 ERA is just 0.04 points above Sale, and .023 behind Verlander, who won the Pitching Triple Crown in 2011. Blake Snell also has the second most wins, tying Cy Young winner Corey Kluber with 12, only sitting behind Luis Severino who plays for a team with a .659 Win Percentage. Blake Snell has a K/9 of 10.1 in his third season in the bigs, a stat that is good enough for 7th in the AL, ahead of 2018 All-Star Luis Severino.
So why wasn’t Blake Snell on the All-Star team to begin with? Because his fellow players didn’t care enough to vote him in.
Since 2002, MLB has had the Final Vote, allowing fans to vote for the last player to make the team. The Fan Vote has had its issues including the All-Royals team and the All-Cubs teams of the past, but what they have yet to grasp is the how to vote for pitchers. In fact, the first time an All-Star Game was stacked with one team thanks to their fans was in 1957, when the Cincinnati Reds faithful stuffed the ballot box.
The obvious problem is that the fans control a majority of the voting processes, the only one they don’t hold access to being pitcher voting. That’s a problem, especially now that we know the pitcher voting system sucks.
According to MLB ASG Voting Rules, it is the players who vote for eight pitchers, 5 starters, and two relievers. It’s always someone close to you who is the biggest suspect when a crime is committed. Blake Snell’s All-Star robbery is no different.
Instead of Snell, the following pitchers were voted into the MLB All-Star Game at Nationals Park.
Starters Selected via Player’s Ballot:
- Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians
- Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox
- Luis Severino, New York Yankees
- Gerrit Cole, Houston Astros
- Justin Verlander, Houston Astros (Injured)
Starters Selected by the MLB Commissioner’s Office:
- Trevor Bauer, Cleveland Indians
- José Berrios, Minnesota Twins
- J.A. Happ, Toronto Blue Jays
Starters Absolutely Hosed by Their Peers and Rob Manfred, Jr:
- Blake Snell, Tampa Bay Rays
There are a couple of things that also could have done this to Blake Snell, and I think it’s worth taking a look into them. First off, the rule that each team must be represented by at least one player might have been a part of the cause for Snell’s snub.
One Player Per Team
J.A. Happ, who has had a great season for the Blue Jays until his last few starts, is the sole player from Toronto making the trip to Washington. The fact that he’s an MLB choice makes that very clear. Regardless of Justin Smoak bat or Kevin Pillar’s incredible defensive work, the MLB decided they had too many first basemen and outfielders on the AL roster. For the MLB, it had to be Happ. Same goes for José Berrios of the Minnesota Twins.
Hitting closer to home, there’s Wilson Ramos, the only representative for the Tampa Bay Rays. I have long loved Wilson Ramos and I’ll for sure take pleasure in his return to Washington after they sent him packing after he tore his ACL during an incredible 2016 season. However, Ramos’ 2018 campaign is even better, as he’s on pace to put up career numbers across the board.
Ramos won the fan vote, and rightfully so, he’s arguably one of the best catchers in the game and Gary Sanchez is hurt. It’s not his fault that he’s going as the Rays rep. It’s how the voting works. If fans could have voted Snell in, Ramos might have been an alternate or Player’s ballot vote. Ramos getting in tips the numbers out of Snell’s favor.
And then there’s Trevor Bauer.
I don’t like Trevor Bauer. It’s nothing personal, I just never liked the guy. Perhaps it’s his little brother syndrome, stuck in a rotation that includes Corey Kluber, and occasionally Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar. There’s also the drone incident, which often causes me to roll my eyes. However, it was the following quote that really grinds my gears.
“I should be an All-Star. I’d imagine I will be and if I’m not, they didn’t get it right, whoever they is. I’m glad I’m pitching well. That’s been the goal, I feel like I should be an All-Star every year. That’s the standard I hold myself to.” – Trevor Bauer
Those are big words for a guy who holds a career ERA of 4.05 and career WHIP of 1.316. Is Trevor Bauer having the best year of his career? Yes. Is his year better than Blake Snell’s? No, and if you said yes, check the stats.
However, Bauer has much more of an appeal to an MLB audience. Take a deep breath here Rays fans and let me finish. Bauer has pitched on a big stage, he plays for a team who was recently in the World Series and has been in the playoffs the past two years. The guy simply has more name recognition than Snell to the casual baseball fan.
When the MLB goes searching for an audience, they are going ot hit up the big markets first. Lest we forget, the MLB All-Star Game hasn’t had the greatest success in the last… decade, and if they’re going to turn things around they need to start with big name players from big markets.
Does that mean Trevor Bauer doesn’t deserve a spot on the roster? No. Does it mean that Blake Snell didn’t get a spot because he plays in Tampa Bay? No. It means that casual fans recognize Bauer, not Snell.
The more knowledgeable fan will throw their computer out the window after reading that sentence. I’m with you on that one, you guys. RIGHT THERE WITH YOU.
I’ll let Blake Snell’s teammate and fellow Rays pitcher Chris Archer help me bring this home.
— Chris Archer (@ChrisArcher22) July 8, 2018
He’s right. The players have to be better. The league office has to be better. The fans need to be more aware. We need change to the system. Even Verlander called out the fact that the players use an outdated system.
TRUE. Why are you using that outdated system?? At the time of the vote he had 9 wins and 2.3 era https://t.co/4mwXRV7fhb
— Chris Archer (@ChrisArcher22) July 9, 2018
That’s insane to me.
In 1999, a rogue Red Sox fan created a computer program that voted for Nomar Garciaparra 39,000 times and the MLB is using paper ballots for their players? WHAT YEAR IS IT?
I’m irrationally mad about this, I know. No one needs to get this worked up, but it’s a broken system. If the game is dying off like the Commissioner’s Office seems to think it is, then why are we stifling young, exciting and top quality talent like Snell? The NBA, which has no problem with audience shrickage, had their dunk contest won 2 years in a row by a bench player from Minnesota, and you bet your boots I watched the whole thing because Zach Levine was NASTY.
Blake Snell is equally, if not more nasty. The guy is an All-Star caliber pitcher, and he was robbed of that honor. Instead, MLB brings him on as a replacement for Corey Kluber.
Blake Snell is not a replacement, not a backup. Blake Snell is an All-Star and the MLB owes him an explanation and we all deserve a change.