Every season, without fail, the All-Star Ballot becomes an object of contention; like the Hall of Fame voting, the All-Star Game is simply a lightning rod for debate. Should this glorified exhibition game decide home field advantage in the World Series? Should we even care about the All-Star Game anymore, as interleague play and television have removed its mystique? And of course, which players deserve to make the game? So many people claim to not care about the game, but that doesn’t prevent copious amounts of digital ink being spilled each year on these same 0l’ questions.*
*Personally, I haven’t watched the game the last few years, but I still can’t help but care on who gets selected for the teams. A part of it is stubborn obstinance – someone is wrong on the internet! - and a part of it is you know the players themselves take pride in these things. It’s only natural to want players to get the recognition they deserve, right?
This year’s All-Star Game travesty – outside of the fact that the Yankees are leading the voting in six out of nine slots – is the fact that one of the game’s best young outfielders isn’t even within the top 15 vote receivers at the position. This is a player that is currently leading the major leagues in batting average (.370), has the best slugging percentage (.636) out of all players not named Bautista, and has the third-best on-base percentage in the AL (.430).
This player has posted a .457 wOBA and a 198 wRC+ this year, much higher than Curtis Granderson’s 171 wRC+, and, according to WAR, he’s been the third-most valuable player in the majors this year (3.1 WAR, trailing only Bautista and Halladay). And if you don’t want to consider the fielding aspect of WAR, he’s also been the second-most valuable hitter in the majors, contributing 20.4 offensive runs. Holy cow, why isn’t he getting more love?
Ah, that’s right – he plays in Tampa Bay. Matt Joyce, come on down.
But wait! Since the All-Star Game happens midseason and it’s still early in the year, shouldn’t a player’s history count somewhat? Joyce was only called up to the Rays in late June last season, so maybe you could make the case that some stars should get a leg up due to their performance last year.
Even that point helps Joyce’s case, though. If you combine Joyce’s stats over the last two seasons, he’s been worth 4.8 WAR for the Rays in just under 450 plate appearances – not even a full season. His WAR figure ranks him 10th among all AL outfielders over the last two years, and that’s considering that all the players above him have around 300-400 more plate appearances than he does. Over that time, his .400 wOBA is third-best among all AL outfielders.
For comparison, here’s how his production over the last two years stacks up against other AL vote getters. All these players have so far received more votes than Joyce:
* Listed in descending order of votes.
Jeff Francoeur and Sam Fuld both have more votes than him? This simply can’t go on. Please, I entreat you – go vote for Matt Joyce and help right a terrible wrong.
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