This Year’s All-Star Travesty: Matt Joyce’s Snub

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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Steve is the editor-in-chief of DRaysBay and the keeper of the FanGraphs Library. You can follow him on Twitter at @steveslow.

51 Responses to “This Year’s All-Star Travesty: Matt Joyce’s Snub”

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  1. Xenophanes says:

    Hamilton, Swisher, Super Sam, Drew, Ichiro, Crawford, Frenchy…people obviously aren’t even bothering to pay attention when they vote. Why bother?

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    • Yirmiyahu says:

      In defense of stupid people:

      It’s called the All-Star Game. Not the All WAR Game, or the Best Performer Game. A lot of people simply vote for their favorite “stars,” regardless of performance. Which they’re entitled to do. Quite often, stars are older players who are overpaid and past their prime.

      I don’t agree with that perspective, but I don’t have a problem with it.

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      • Xenophanes says:

        You see, I generally agree with you save for one small piece: people simply vote for whomever starts at the respective positions on the Red Sox and Yankees, with a few names (see: Hamilton, Ichiro, etc.) from other choice teams that get voted in every year. Part of it may be that I’m a Sox fan and gaddamnit I want to watch someone else play for once, but, yeah.

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      • Yirmiyahu says:

        That’s true, and it’s unfortunately encouraged by MLB. They do everything in their power to make it easy for fans to make a party-line vote for all their team’s nominees.

        For instance, Nick Swisher in the running for a spot, despite the fact that he doesn’t deserve it based on “stardom”, past performance, or this year’s performance.

        A related problem is how the nominees are set in stone at the beginning of the year and are quite often obsolete after a few months. None of these guys are on the ballot: Ryan Roberts (1.9 WAR), Mike Napoli (1.5 WAR), Allen Craig (1.4 WAR), Corey Patterson (1.3 WAR), Sean Rodriguez (1.3 WAR), Casey Kotchman (1.3 WAR), Alberto Callaspo (1.3 WAR), Jon Jay (1.2 WAR), etc.

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      • Preston says:

        I have no problem with unmitigated fandom in voting for starters. If Matt Joyce gets 0 votes that’s fine. If Ron Washington doesn’t given him the spot he’s earned then I’ll be pissed. The game is for the fans, so let Jeter go out to short and tip his cap to the crowd when he leaves after an inning or two. Many undeserving players before him have gotten the right to do it based on their past performance. But after that let’s get serious because this game does have some significance (even though it shouldn’t). And If Matt Joyce isn’t an all-star right now than the only person who should be on the team is Jose Bautista.

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  2. William says:

    One thing you haven’t taken into account is that joyce has almost exclusively faced righties this year, so he wouldn’t be the greatest choice due to the ability for his platoon splits to be exploited in the all star game. Still a great player though

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    • True, but he still has a .359 wOBA versus lefties this season and it’s not like he’s been platooned that much (52 games played, 190 PAs). He’s facing lefties more and more, although last season he did face almost only righties.

      But at least for the all-star voting, I don’t think that should count against his overall results…he’s still been the third-most valuable player in the majors. I mean….come on.

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  3. theperfectgame says:

    How ’bout they switch to instant runoff system for All-Star game voting? Instead of picking one player for each position, you rank, say, your top 3 picks. Once initial votes are aggregated, the last place guy drops off, all votes for him are thrown out, and those ballots that had him as their first choice instead get counted for the guy who was 2nd on their lists. Then votes are re-aggregated, the last place guy is tossed out, and so on and so on until you’re left with one guy. I’m sure there would still be snubs, but I think there would be fewer, and it would definitely be less likely that the AL team would be made up entirely of Yankees and Red Sox. I dunno, just an idea.

    Also, this is the internet age. There’s no excuse for Brad Emaus, who hasn’t been in the Majors since mid-April, to be on the ballot. C’mon MLB.

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    • Yirmiyahu says:

      Ballots are submitted by teams at the beginning of the season, I believe. On a stone tablet, with a chisel.

      Marco Scutaro is the Red Sox shortstop.

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  4. Neuter Your Dogma says:

    If I am a fan of an NL team and my team is in playoff contention, why would I ever vote for the best AL players to start in the All Star game? I’d want my best shot at 4 WS home games.

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  5. DT says:

    Jeter leads AL SS is a huge joke as well. People who vote don’t bother watching the game.

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  6. bartleby says:

    Why did it take Joe Maddon so long to commit to Matt Joyce in the first place?

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    • V says:

      And why does he keep bouncing him around the batting order? A few days ago, Felipe Lopez was batting 6th, Joyce 7th, and Kelly Shoppach 8th. Early in the game, with runners on 1st and 2nd no out, Lopez sac bunted. Surprise, surprise, Joyce was intentionally walked for the inevitable Shoppach double play.

      Way to waste one of your better resources, Maddon.

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      • prankmunky says:

        I think he has just been batting him down in the order against lefties. Which will probably change soon.

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  7. Balagast says:

    Jose Reyes being behind Tulo and Rollins is pretty terrible as well.

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    • Neuter Your Dogma says:

      Behind Rollins agreed. When voting, I give credit to post-AS performance of the last year. Tulo chould get credit for his Aug-Sept 2010.

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  8. Remus says:

    I dont see the point in complaining, sure he is hitting like a monster right now, but he will only get one, two at bats maximum, its not like they’re going to play a whole season or even a 7 game series, he can easily K and GIDP, in those two chances.
    Not to mention he is bound to slow down at some point, a month ago everyone would have wanted Sam Fuld in the ASG.

    As long as it is a quality player I dont think it makes a lot of difference who is on the field.

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  9. Rick says:

    The Granderson comp is a bit incomplete. Yes, Joyce’s wRC+ is appreciably higher, but Granderson plays the CF and has ~45 more PAs. Their WARs are basically a wash. Joyce belongs, but so does Granderson. If the author wanted to take a shot at somebody currently in a starting slot, Hamilton would have been a much better target.

    I know everybody’s upset that it looks like every Yankee is going to make the ASG roster, and there are certainly things to complain about with the voting, but Granderson isn’t the problem.

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    • I didn’t mean to denigrate Granderson…he’s also having an incredible year, so it was mostly to show that Joyce has been even slightly more incredible. Both of them definitely deserve to be in, hence the comparison…if Granderson is a shoe-in, then Joyce’s offense definitely should at least have him considered.

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      • Rick says:

        Fair enough – if you start from the “of course Granderson is deserving” position, then it’s just an illustration of how good Joyce has been offensively.

        I was probably just a little thrown off by the use of wRC+ in the Granderson comp immediately before shifting to WAR, where the numbers are basically tied tie, but I’m obviously looking for dragons here.

        I think my disapproval of lumping all OF in ASG voting probably also showed through. Granderson and Joyce really shouldn’t even be in the same race, since the nature of the positions is different, so I was probably subconsciously itching to get the positional adjustment in there. No worries about the article (and I’m all for banging the drum for Joyce).

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    • prankmunky says:

      Didn’t look like a shot at the grandy man, just a comparison. Why must people take such offense to silly things?

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      • Rick says:

        Not offended. I thought using wRC+ to show how Joyce’s is much higher than Grandy’s is true as far as it goes, but incomplete. This article is all about a guy getting snubbed in ASG voting. Usually saying “Player X got snubbed” in such discussions requires a corollary that “Player Y is ahead of him and undeserving.”

        I assumed that the author was not arguing for Joyce to displace Bautista, so “Player Y” was either Hamilton or Granderson. I just wanted to point out that there’s another comp between Joyce and Grandy where the two are much closer than they are in wRC+.

        If by “snub” we only mean that “Joyce should be somewhere way higher in the voting than he is” then the evidence obviously speaks for itself. I was just trying to make the point that, if by “snub” we mean “Joyce should be a starter” then Hamilton is the guy he’d be replacing.

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      • 100% agree with you Rick. Sorry, I think my overall point got muddied a bit by my outrage.

        All I’m trying to make a case for is that Joyce deserves a lot more love than he’s gotten. Where exactly he falls is up for others to decide…personally, I’d vote for Bautista, Granderson, and Joyce too.

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  10. TheGrandslamwich says:

    Small market players have no chance to get in unless they are just blowing everyone else out of the water and there isn’t a high profile Yankee or Red Sox player at that position. Even Posada has a solid number of votes for DH.

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  11. dbake005 says:

    Sad thing is… Voting for Bautista (which has to be done) actually hurts Joyce’s chances somewhat… yes?

    Throw some votes in for Upton and Stanton… we need that HR derby final.

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  12. Lewie Pollis says:

    Shouldn’t there at least be some consideration of how lucky he’s been getting? Plug his xBABIP in for his BABIP and his OPS+ falls from 198 to 145. In a neutral context he’s still worthy of at least a reserve role, but he’s definitely not a clear-cut starter.

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  13. dbake005 says:

    He has made his own luck, to an extent. BABIP has him looking as lucky as anyone, but he’s gotta get some credit for raking line drives all over the field.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      I think more guys “make their BABIP luck” than not. Same thing with pitchers and BABIP.

      It takes un unrealistic amount of luck for a player to get lucky over a whole 162-game season spanning 7 months, while facing 15+ different teams and 300 (?) or so different pitchers.

      You have to rescue a lot of injured kittens to get that kind of luck.

      Same thing with pitchers and 32 starts.

      While they may not be able to reproduce the performance in another season, that doesn’t mean they did not for a single season.

      I do like that we look at things like line drive % and things of that nature, but we also seem to willy-nilly pick and choose who is “lucky” and who is making their own luck, and some times it’s not logic based.

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  14. JT Grace says:

    There are three very clear AL starters in the outfield; Bautista, Granderson, and Matt Joyce.

    But go ahead Yankee fans and vote in the lesser players, it only helps the NL.

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  15. cuck says:

    Thank you so much for that xkcd reference

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  16. Antonio Bananas says:

    In a nutshell, Selig’s philosophy on the All Star game is why NFL games get higher ratings than World Series games. If you promote big market teams and “stars” constantly, and they fail (because they really aren’t the best at all), then the average fan loses interest. Baseball is regional with a few exceptions of Yankees and Sox. Just look at the ESPN games, pretty sure something like 4 of the first 5 games had the Yanks or Sox. It’s not healthy. The average MLB fan is uneducated about the game in general. They know Yanks/Sox/Hometeam and that’s it. Show people the real best players and highlight other teams.

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  17. rbibaseball57 says:

    ummm……. have you considered that he has a .409 BABIP and that he is most likely to regress.

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    • Josh Hamilton shouldn’t have won MVP last season….that .390 BABIP was just screaming that he wasn’t that good.

      Sorry, couldn’t help being a bit snarky. But I tend to believe that BABIP can be both tied up with skill and luck…while he’s certain to regress, right now Joyce is ripping line drives all around the field. He’s destroying the ball, and he has a high BABIP. So I’m not going to penalize him for it.

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    • fredsbank says:

      doesnt mean that what’s happened hasnt happened

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  18. donald says:

    average baseball fan is not that intelligent to write in vote or holepunch m joyce, nor does it matter. hell, i saw the guy next to me writing down ken griffey junior,

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  19. stareagle says:

    I wonder how much better the Tigers offense would look with Matt Joyce and Curtis Granderson replacing Austin Jackson and Ryan Raburn.

    (I know Raburn is supposed to be Detroit’s second baseman now, but no one actually expects that to last. He can’t play left field, much less second base.)

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  20. oscar says:

    this dude is a mini bautista, but then again, you can call almost anyone a mini bautista. left hand bautista.

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  21. Young Gung says:

    ASG voting aside, if Hamilton is the starter when the ASG games starts, its not like the NL will be catching a huge break by facing Hamilton instead of Joyce.

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  22. Jeff says:

    Geez, guys. BABIP should be considered when making future projections, not evaluating how well someone has been doing. I mean, honestly: Assuming the season ended today, would you give the MVP to Pujols because his true talent level is probably the highest of any player in MLB? I would hope not.

    We all know Joyce/Pujols is going to regress/progress, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s been having a great/bad-by-his-standards year.

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  23. CircleChange11 says:

    I think there are very few that define the “All-Star Game” as “the best stats for the first half of the season game”.

    When you start with a definition/position that is not shared by many, you’re bound to come to different conclusions.

    For most, as evident by voting, the “All Star Game” is simply the players the fans want to see. They are the stars, or most well known players in the game.

    We also often make it sound like the fans pick guys that shouldn;t be there at all, when IMO, the fans usually pick really good players that have a case for being at the ASG.

    The problem that arises is that the Commissioner has changed the nature of the ASG, but not the process. The game determines home-field for the WS, but the fans select the starters.

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  24. mgraves says:

    Bearing in mind each team gets one representative, the only non-laughable possibility for the Twins is CF Denard Span. According to WAR, he’s the fourth best outfielder in the AL, but that is owed almost entirely to his defense. A discussion of the AL’s outfield pretty much has to assume Span will be holding one of those spots.

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  25. es0terik says:

    Actually, I think the fans should vote for the second or third line of players, and the managers and league should select the starting line-up.

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