(Long Island, N.Y.) Being voted as one of the starting nine in the All-Star Game is a huge honor. The Mid-Summer Classic allows the fans to show who they want to see every summer playing for their respective league, and with the added incentive of home field advantage in the World Series since 2003.
But there are incidents where the best player loses out to someone else, as seemed to be the case with shortstop in the National League. Troy Tulowitzki of the Colorado Rockies led Jose Reyes by over 200,000 votes, even though the New York Mets leadoff hitter’s statistics were higher by a large margin. As odd as that may seem, Terry Collins had a theory.
“As we all know, it’s a popularity contest,” the Mets manager told reporters recently. “It’s who comes to the ballparks and who’s voting, really.”
With the Fourth of July weekend approaching, Tulowitzki was batting .271 with 15 home runs, 53 RBI, 18 doubles, 2 triples, 42 runs scored and 6 stolen bases. Sounds like nice numbers, but they paled in comparison to Reyes, who is having the most productive season of his career in his walk year. A .352 average, 3 home runs, 32 RBI, 22 doubles, 15 triples, 65 runs and 30 steals should make him the runaway favorite, but that isn’t always the case.
“We get to see him every day,” Collins added. “In our opinion, he should be the leader, without question. If he’s not on the team somehow, some way, there needs to be a way to change the rules.”
Reyes closed the gap those last few days before the Mets fans came out in full force and stuffed the proverbial ballot box. When the rosters were announced on Sunday, Reyes not only won but also did so by 800,000 votes. Having the option of voting online up to 25 times per person apparently worked for the right reasons in this case.
So Reyes leading the league in four separate offensive categories (batting average, hits, multiple-hit games and runs scored) was rewarded correctly but an injured left hamstring may keep him from hearing his name announced last in the pre-game introductions on July 12 at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona.
During the second inning of Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the Yankees, Reyes felt tightness in his leg and was removed from the game. He underwent an MRI exam and a Grade 1 strain was the result. He has missed the last few games and the team will have decide on whether he’s healthy enough to play in the Mid-Summer Classic.
But even if he has to sit that one out, Reyes’ being voted the National League starter proves that the system, while not a perfect one, does come out right most of the time. Years ago when you had to punch a hole on an All-Star ballot and deposit it in a box at the ballpark, the stadiums with the most sellouts usually had a good number of their players on the squad. Major League Baseball is doing the best they can by making it easier to cast your vote and not have one person fill out cards all game long.
The starters aren’t always the most deserving, but in the case of Jose Reyes, a no-brainer was nearly lost.