If MLB’s all-star voting ended this weekend, eight Royals would be slated to start for the American League, thanks to Kansas City fans exploiting the loopholes of the now-online voting.
When you think of the American League starting all-star second baseman, the first that comes to mind is definitely Omar Infante.
You shouldn’t even think about Cleveland’s Jason Kipnis and his .341 batting average and his AL-leading 89 hits through Friday’s games.
Forget about Minnesota’s Brian Dozier and his 22 doubles, 11 homers and 32 RBI.
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Not even the diminutive Dustin Pedroia (.301 batting average) or the pocket-sized Jose Altuve (last year’s hit leader) should be considered.
If the voting ended this weekend, Infante, with his .229 batting average and .550 OPS, would be announced as the starting second baseman for the AL for the 2015 All-Star Game at Cincinnati’s Great American Ballpark.
If the voting ended this weekend, it would actually be Infante, seven other Royals teammates (catcher Salvador Perez, first baseman Eric Hosmer, third baseman Mike Moustakas, shortstop Alcides Escobar, left fielder Alex Gordon, right fielder Lorenzo Cain and designated hitter Kendrys Morales), Mike Trout and whomever manager Ned Yost selects as his starting pitcher — possibly Chris Sale, Dallas Keuchel or Felix Hernandez.
Yes, eight total Royals.
What in the name of George Brett is going on here?
Well, Major League Baseball changed the voting for the all-star teams to online only. Gone are the days of fans punching out the holes in the ballots in between innings and team’s stadium workers punching out dozens of ballots per game as well.
It’s all online, all the time. Predictably, some fan bases — cough, Kansas City, cough — have taken advantage of the loopholes. Fans can vote 35 times in the process. But it goes by email address. So many fans are opening multiple email accounts.
There wasn’t some conspiracy to vote in all Royals starters from their fans — at first. But when national pundits and other fans began to complain about the early voting results and the preponderance of Kansas City players, irritated Royals fans retaliated by stuffing the online ballots out of spite. It’s a witty and brilliant premise.
Heck, they were even pushing to vote for fan favorite from last year’s team and current Giants outfielder Nori Aoki into the NL All-Star starting lineup. Aoki would be the starter if the voting ended this weekend.
But at least Aoki’s hitting .317 with a .766 OPS. Infante, by most measures, is one of the three worst hitting every-day position players.
What’s mildly amusing is that the majority of Royals fans are bitter that Infante is the starting second baseman for their own team and would rather have someone else — anyone else.
Yet the hashtag of #VoteOmar has been trending on social media to push Infante into the All-Star Game.
Would commissioner Rob Manfred do what commissioner Ford Frick did in 1957 when seven players from the Reds were voted starters and replace two of them?
It seems unlikely. But it did appear that MLB was taking action to quell the vote trolling of their midsummer classic. Reports broke that MLB canceled some 60 million of the more than 300 million ballots cast, it was thought that the ballot-stuffing would be negated and the leaders would be re-adjusted.
But reports from the Kansas City Star proved otherwise.
Bob Bowman, MLB’s president of business and media, told the Star that even with the invalidated ballots, the current results stand. He called Royals fans “very active.”
With less than two weeks left till the July 2 voting deadline line, teams have started to push campaigns on social media to get their players in, following the Royals’ lead. By the end, there could be some half billion votes cast — something that MLB loves. There is a different debate about a process that has grown somewhat stale over the years.
“We want fans engaged and highly energized,” Bowman told the Star. “We hope the end result is great representation from both leagues to start the game.”
It shouldn’t be a castigation of the Royals fans or the voting process — though it wouldn’t be surprising if MLB tweaks the system a little next season. The current system in place is acceptable, and Royals fans are doing nothing wrong by taking advantage of it. They have the time and motivation.
If fans from other teams don’t like it, there is one way to change the process.
And then vote 34 more times and maybe open a few fake email addresses as well and vote 35 more times with each address.