Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Tommy Pham is having a fantastic year so far for a surprising Rays team, who are currently a big contender for the American League East division crown. A huge reason for their success this year has to do with their lineup producing offensively on a consistent basis, even though they don’t really have any star players.
That brings me to the point of Tommy Pham. He’s never been a big name in Major League Baseball, but a very solid player who has always played good defense and produced at the plate. When he came over to the Rays last season towards the end of the ’18 campaign from St. Louis, he was raking immediately, hitting .343 with seven homers in 39 games. He’s carried that production right over to 2019, where the Las Vegas, Nevada native is currently hitting .298 with 10 long balls and 31 RBIs, sitting second on the team in average. Pham has also only missed seven games this year, making him a big league regular in the outfield for Tampa Bay. Pham was more of a bench guy with the Cardinals, although he still produced whenever given the chance to start. He has been a very solid hitter for his entire career though with an impressive .282 average across five seasons in the majors.
The voting process is wrong
Pham was one to make his voice heard about the whole All-Star voting process, which is frankly an unfair way to pick who plays in the mid-summer classic. Fans get way too much say in who should be picked for the prestigious game, which results in players being picked that don’t really deserve to be just because they’re a big name. As Pham told The Athletic, small market teams like the Rays don’t get much recognition either.
“We won’t get credit, man. It’s always unfair. Big market vs. small market. It’s never going to be fair.”
Pham also went on to note that Tampa Bay never get the chance to play on ESPN, where they could actually be seen by more fans.
“We’re not getting any help either from ESPN. We haven’t had an ESPN game all year. That’s a way for fans to see us by putting us on one of those big-time games. But we continually never get put on, so all they see is the same players. The Cubs, Dodgers, Yankees, Red Sox—the same teams are always on there.”
When the initial votes were released just over a week ago, both Pham and Avisail Garcia, who is also having a career year for the Rays, were both sitting behind both Brett Gardner of the Yankees and Jackie Bradley Jr.of the Red Sox in votes. Gardner is hitting .233, while Bradley Jr is hitting just .213. But since they both play for big market teams who see a lot of air time and get a lot of attention from media and fans, they both sit ahead of two players who clearly deserve to be All-Stars.
The whole process isn’t fair, there’s no doubt about it. Tampa Bay is doing some amazing things this year that no one could have expected, especially in one of the toughest divisions in baseball. Some of these players deserve to be rewarded with a spot in July’s All-Star Game. Austin Meadows looks like he will be the only shoo-in to start as of right now, but there’s still a possibility that others could end up making the AL team as reserves.
Pham currently sits last amongst AL outfielders on the poll, with just 223,250 votes. If he played for a team like the Yankees or Red Sox, I could guarantee that he would for sure be an All-Star this year. But since he plays in Tampa, no one even recognizes the special things he is doing this season.
It’s not the end of the world, but it’s always nice to be rewarded for being a big-time contributor for your ball club. Gardner and Bradley Jr. still sit above Pham in votes as of right now, despite their lackluster batting averages.
MLB, which has had trouble marketing its star players before, is partly to blame for this whole voting process, along with ESPN, who always air the same teams.
The small guys aren’t getting the recognition they deserve. Tommy Pham absolutely deserves to be an All-Star, but chances are he won’t be, which is quite disappointing when you’re hitting .300 halfway through the season.