Let me premise what I am about to write with the following statement. If you have not voted for the 2015 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, you have no right to bellyache over the fact that after today’s most recent All-Star voting update, seven Kansas City Royals are slated to start in this year’s game. Just like a Presidential election, if you choose not to exercise your right to vote, keep your opinion on the matter to yourself.
— MLB Communications (@MLB_PR) June 8, 2015
Right off the bat, there are a few things that make you question whether or not anyone is left in Kansas City without carpal tunnel syndrome after click-click-clicking their little Royal hearts out the past two months. Alex Rios, who has played all of 15 games this season has over 300,000 more votes than Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles. All Jones did was bat .400 for the month of April and single handedly keep the Orioles’ lineup afloat. Perhaps the most Royal-mania influenced vote total belongs to Omar Infante. Infante owns a robust .221/.230/.308 slash line.
But hey, the American League may need a late inning defensive replacement, so perhaps Infante’s spot is warranted.
Kendrys Morales, who came to Kansas City after batting .207 in 59 games with the Seattle Mariners last season, has now edged ahead of Nelson Cruz. Coincidentally, Cruz landed in Seattle due largely in part to the fact that Morales could not hit water if he fell out of a sailboat on Puget Sound during his time as a Mariner. All Cruz has done this season is pick up where he left off last season, and leads the American League with 18 home runs and a .997 OPS. That’s what you want from a designated hitter in the All-Star Game, not Morales’s six home runs.
To be fair to most of the Royals currently slated to start, including Morales, it’s not as if they are totally undeserving of an All-Star nod. Eric Hosmer may not be worthy of starting over Miguel Cabrera, but he would be in the All-Star Game regardless, and he will not keep Prince Fielder out of the game. Salvador Perez has been the best offensive catcher in the league this season. Josh Donaldson is putting up MVP-caliber numbers in his first season in Toronto, but Mike Moustakas is having a breakout season with a .318 batting average. Alcides Escobar is a fine option from a crop of weak-hitting American League shortstops, especially with J.J. Hardy struggling to recover from nagging injuries.
The most deserving All-Star, and a true future star in the game of baseball, Lorenzo Cain, is the second-leading vote-getter in the league. That’s not just due to Kansas City fans gluing their faces to the Internet and voting. Cain burst onto the stage in the World Series last year, and is now transcending regional boundaries. Same with Perez, whose personality makes him one of the most marketable young players in the league.
You could say it is bad for the game that nearly an entire lineup in the All-Star Game may be made up of players from the same team, but I heartily disagree. Baseball was dead in Kansas City for nearly two decades. This was a city that was waiting to embrace baseball again, and now that the team is built to contend, they are roaring back to the ballpark in force. The Royals have a young, exciting team with personality (sometimes too much), and the city loves them. For the overall health of the game to grow, the league needs smaller cities like Kansas City to come back to baseball. Witness the constantly packed Target Field as the Twins continue to play over their heads.
It is also not bad for baseball to introduce some new blood. I can hardly think of a better bunch of young players than the Kansas City Royals contingent. These are the types of players that can connect with the younger audience Major League Baseball so desperately wants to attract. The Royals have obviously connected with their fan base in a way that most Major League teams would be lucky to replicate. Instead of worrying about whether or not the Royals should be in the All-Star Game, the rest of the league should work on figuring out how to replicate the same fervor within their own cities. I do think it is a crime that Prince Fielder is almost 2.5 million votes behind Hosmer, but the Texas Rangers have not promoted him to their own fans well enough.
The All-Star Game is an event for the fans, as is the fan vote. There will always be grievances and questionable decisions when the vote is left up to fans. Fans, after all, are an irrational bunch. I spent many a summer poking holes in ballots next to Baltimore Orioles even as the team struggled to keep its head above 70 wins. The dedication and love of the home team shown by the fans in Kansas City can only be viewed in a positive light when considering the overall health of baseball. Instead of complaining about it, the rest of the baseball world would be better served accepting this fact and making sure their own team feels as much love as the Royals.