MLB Announces All-Star Final Spots

All-Star balloting and player selection is at best an inexact and at worst a failed effort as I briefly described in All-Star Ponderings. I don’t think there is a perfect system and there will always be deserving players who are not recognized. I can accept the flawed fan voting and can even understand the players and coaches voting but there is one aspect that I simply do not get and that’s the Final Spot voting.

After the starters and reserves are announced there is one final vote that is left up to the fans. There is one final spot on each roster that is voted upon by the fans to round out the teams. Five candidates from each league are identified and fans are able to vote online or through text messages. Then on the final day Major League Baseball also allows voting through social media using hash tags to cast your vote.

Final VoteFor the American League the five candidates were: Texas Rangers RHP Tanner Scheppers, New York Yankees RHP David Robertson, Boston Red Sox RHP Koji Uehara, Toronto Blue Jays RHP Steve Delabar, and Detroit Tigers RHP Joaquin Benoit. It is interesting that all five candidates were short-relief pitchers.

In the National League the five candidates were: San Francisco Giants OF Hunter Pence, Atlanta Braves 1B Fredie Freeman, Los Angeles Dodgers OF Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers 1B Adrian Gonzalez, and Washington Nationals SS Ian Desmond. Where the AL focused their last spot on pitching the NL went with position players.

For Diamondbacks fans it was a little disappointing that Arizona outfielder Gerardo Parra was snubbed yet again despite putting together a gold-glove worthy season with consistent success at the plate. Clearly he did not make nearly the impression outside of Arizona with the all-star selection committees.

Quickly after the candidates were announced there were deals being made. Toronto and Atlanta quickly made an alliance where Braves fans would vote for Steve Delabar while Blue Jays fans voted for Freddie Freeman. This brokered deal would ultimately be the biggest part of the selection and showed how important it is to connect with another team from the other division in votes such as this.

The Dodgers had a dilemma where two of their players were on the ballot. Gonzalez quickly endorsed Puig hoping to minimize the votes cancelling each other out. It was expected that Puig would run away with the vote given the amount of press and success has had in his first month. When their candidate fell behind the Dodgers attempted to form an alliance with Boston supporting Uehara in exchange for Puig support.

As the voting progressed it was interesting to watch. Major League Baseball would produce an infographic each day that showed voting by county throughout the United States and percentage totals for Canada. I’ve collected those graphics and produced animated GIF files of the AL Final Vote and the NL Final Vote to show the progression over time.

In the end the strong alliance between Atlanta and Toronto overcame the media blitz of Puig Mania. Freddie Freeman and Steve Delabar were voted to the final two spots of the NL and AL respectively. It is interesting to note that 79.8 million votes were placed over 5 days. Freeman received a record 19.7 million votes while Delabar led wire-to-wire never leaving first place.

Social media interaction was fascinating. Twitter voting was allowed for six hours on the final day. In that time they received an average of 4,200 tweets per minute with a peak of 24,660 just before the voting concluded. Twitter voting accounted for 13 percent of the total votes cast proving how important it is to be connected to that communication channel.

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