Fan voting is over and the rosters are set for the 88th MLB All-Star Game. Unlike the past two seasons, neither of the rosters is dominated by one team. Last year, the Chicago Cubs sent seven representatives to the All-Star Game, including four starters. In 2015, the Kansas City Royals also had seven representatives.
Both All-Star teams this year have three starters from one team. Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve, and George Springer represent the Houston Astros in the American League. In the National League, Ryan Zimmerman, Daniel Murphy, and Bryce Harper will represent the Washington Nationals in the starting lineup. Three starters from one team may seem stacked, but all of them are deserving. In fact, a case can be made that all six of these players are MVP candidates right now. It is not like last year, when Addison Russell, probably the fourth-best shortstop in the NL, started the All-Star game.
There is outrage whenever an undeserving player like Russell starts over more deserving players like Corey Seager. This, however, is more of a problem with the system than the player. If people want someone to play, they will vote for him. It is not his fault if the fans want to see him play.
This now leads to a difficult question: should the All-Star Game be about who the audience wants to see, or should it be about all the best players coming together?
The game is now meaningless, making this question harder to answer. Starting this year, the All-Star Game will no longer determine home-field advantage in the World Series. This implication of the game was a concern for years. The best team in baseball should not have to play on the road to start the Series.
We can have fan voting, or we can have a meaningful game. Unfortunately, we cannot have both. What ends up happening is that viewers will tune out of the game when their team’s players do not make it.
TV ratings for the All-Star Game are steadily declining. Last year’s game had a rating of 5.4, or just under nine million viewers. This could possibly be due the abundance of Cubs players in the game. With less variety of team representatives, fewer people are going to tune in.
This year, fan voting seems to have worked out. Both lineups look stacked, and stacked in a good way. It’s a bit ironic that the year we get really good All-Star rosters is the year the game no longer counts for anything.