All-Star Voting has come and gone. We’ve seen Royals go nuts, Twitter go crazy, and records set. How much of it, though, was real? Should we be up in arms about the trends? Is there anything we can do to remain as outraged as we once were? Put on your tinfoil hats, friends, and let’s take a look at some graphs!
It’s fun to be outraged. For those of you who are just catching up now, All-Star voting has changed in the last few years. Now, people vote exclusively online, and can vote up to 35 times per email-address. Much of the time spent voting seemed to show the Royals absolutely dominating; at times winning 8 of 9 starting positions, despite the players having little claim to the throne, either in the performance or the starpower sense. MLB had to go to great lengths to assure fans that fraudulent voting would not be tolerated, and millions of votes had already been tossed out to maintain fair play. In the end, most people seem to be OK with the final results, but many are also skeptical that MLB juiced the votes to keep up some semblance of respectability. What can we do, from the outside, to check this? Well, the MLB gave weekly updates on the voting totals, so we can check those out and see if anything looks fishy.
(Disclaimer: All of this data is courtesy of MLB, specifically https://twitter.com/MLB_PR. If you want to go full conspiracy theorist, we really have no reason to trust this data. They could have been lying this whole time. In which case, I’m not adding anything in this article, but thanks for reading anyway. Go back to your bomb shelter.)
So I’m going to take a look at the results, week by week, position by position. I’ll analyze the results, and tell you how paranoid and/or outraged you should be by this. I’m using a very scientific scale. When you see the Cereal Guy, that means just barely outraged, like you just found out the grocery store sold you expired frozen dinners. When you see the tinfoil hat, that means you should be moderately outraged, like Facebook just changed their layout again and you know they just want your information. When you see Ron Paul and the Happening Bunker, that means it’s time to pull out all the stops and get really outraged, like somebody just told you the spoilers for the last book in Song of Ice and Fire and it turns out that animals can warg into people. I’ll list the candidates on the left, with the week on the top, with week 7 being the final results. With that helpful guide out of the way, let’s get to it!
National League First Base:
We’ve got a couple interesting things in this one. One is that Joey Votto‘s fans really decided to take a weird break. He was 5th after the first week, took a three week tip elsewhere, then ended up finishing second. This will be part of a greater Reds trend we’ll see later, but there isn’t much else to see here. Paul Goldschmidt took this contest in week three over the hot starting Adrian Gonzalez, and that makes sense. Let’s move along, keeping our outrage at a minimum just for Votto’s weirdness.
National League Second Base:
So just like Votto, we have a Brandon Phillips taking this strange detour before finishing strong at third place. Let’s keep an eye on this Reds trend.. Other than that, we see Howie Kendrick disappearing entirely while Yunel Escobar hangs around the entire time, inexplicably. Those things are weird, but they’re small potatoes. Dee Gordon was the most exciting player and he’s pretty good, so it makes sense that he’d win this one.
National League Third Base:
Whoa. That is a weird trend line. Through week 4, it looks like Matt Carpenter has this thing in the bag, until out of fricking nowhere comes Todd Frazier to just completely blow him out of the water. He was down by 2.5 million votes in week 4, and ended up winning by more than 2 million votes. Carpenter’s trend took a noticeable dip while Frazier just soared out of control. Everything else looks normal, and we have seen a trend of Reds going up in the last three weeks, but this looks fishy. Either Reds fans really have something to be proud of, or the MLB missed some serious fraud, or there’s something afoot in the MLB office to get Todd Frazier some time.
National League Shortstop:
Man, people really like Jhonny Peralta. Didn’t everybody hate him and think he was a joke a year ago? That turned around. That’s a bit fishy that he won this handily over some other pretty big names. I would think that Giants fans, who in years past had voted pretty well, would surge Brandon Crawford here, and yet he didn’t even finish in front of Troy Tulowitzki. A little paranoia here that Peralta won this handily, but we have bigger fish to fry.
National League Catcher:
That table is so weird. The reason you don’t see Devin Mesoraco‘s line is because he doesn’t have one. The dude just magically jumped from having never placed in the top 5 all the way to 4th in the last week. I don’t know what caused Reds fan to all of a sudden care, but that looks iffy to me. This was an interesting race until Buster Posey went nuts, but there isn’t much suspicious about that. Pirates fans sure showed up to vote for Francisco Cervelli, and I’m suspicious of that because its Francisco Fricking Cervelli, but admittedly he is having a great year.
National League Outfield:
Bryce Harper blowing this one away is the least suspicious thing so far. The top five were pretty consistent, and the top three aren’t particularly surprising either. It gets a little nutty after that, though. Jay Bruce really benefited from the Reds surge in a major way, going from totally unplaced in weeks 1-4 to finishing 6th overall. That’s nuts, and admittedly somewhat unnerving. Billy Hamilton and Marlon Byrd had similarly random surges, and they’re not even very good. If this was a 14 week contest instead of a 7 week one, we might see the Reds take over every spot, like the Royals did. The rest of this ballot is fairly starpower-driven, with the exception of Jon Jay placing rather respectably despite playing poorly and not being a household name. The Reds shenanigans are weird, but they didn’t affect the results, so only medium skepticism here.
American League First Base:
So here’s where we start with the Royals shenanigans. Miguel Cabrera beats out Eric Hosmer in both performance and starpower, so it’s not surprising he won in the end. That said, Hosmer had a random two weeks when Royals fans and trolls propelled him to the #1 spot before losing the lead handily from week 5 onwards. Cabrera is a machine, and probably the best pure hitter in the game. It was pretty weird to see Justin Smoak show up in week 5 to take the 4 spot despite not really playing excellently. He’s hitting fine, but that’s about it, and there are much bigger names than his. Let’s keep an eye on the Blue Jays for now, and just take a light outrage stance here.
American League Second Base:
This was a pretty crazy one; the one that encapsulated all of the controversy. Omar Infante is really bad, and nobody cares about him. He might not even be the best second baseman on the Royals, let alone the American League. Meanwhile Jose Altuve is universally beloved and playing pretty well. Jason Kipnis might be the best player in the league the entire year. The fact that Omar Infante was even in the conversation is ridiculous, and it took a seriously hard effort at the end for Altuve to win. The downward trend in weeks 6 and 7 is suspicious compared to Altuve’s spike; either the trolls felt some shame, or somebody is cooking the books. Altuve had his best week of the year in that final stretch by far, earning nearly 25% of his vote total. Meanwhile Kipnis just kind of had a regular week? This is nonsense. Sound the alarm boys, something fishy is going on.
American League Third Base:
Oh what-the heck-ever. Josh Donaldson is pretty great, but you know what, so is Mike Moustakas. Donaldson was leading the world in everything, sure, but Moose is hitting pretty dang well. The trolls don’t have as much to apologize for as you’d think here. This was a healthy dismantling in the Royals favor through four weeks, and then Donaldson took this ridiculous surge to get the most votes ever? Yeah, he deserved to win, but Moose is less than one WARP behind Donaldson and he has the most rabid fanbase ever behind him. We’ve seen some Blue Jays fanbase helping at the end, but I don’t call it enough. Donaldson gained nearly a million votes in the last three weeks, which is more than Altuve got the entire time. Maximum level paranoia. By the way, Manny Machado has more WARP than either of them, and nobody cares.
American League Shortstop:
So nobody really cares about shortstops unless they’re superstars, and there are no superstars remaining in this group. Alcides Escobar is having an ok year, and he benefits from nobody really having a better idea who to pick without looking at the stats. He never has competition. There may be some cause for suspicion, but it’s just your garden variety “Did the MLB juice the Royals votes to create a controversy” and nothing special. Escobar winning by default isn’t particularly crazy.
American League Catcher:
So this one is weird. Like, really weird. Salvador Perez is pretty bad this year, and the nation knows him as the guy who popped out foul to lose the World Series. Yet this is never a contest in any sense of the phrase. From week 1 he’s completely blowing the field away. We’ve seen a number of instances of Blue Jays fans helping their guy surge, but Russell Martin did not get a surge of any kind. Stephen Vogt deserves it, but Martin is good and people like him. Yet somehow Perez surges to a vote total just shy of Donaldson’s, despite having much better competition. This deserves paranoia for inconsistency. If there were people showing up in droves to vote for Donaldson, the same people should have been voting for Martin, but they didn’t. Somebody’s got some ‘splainin to do.
Despite Edwin Encarnacion’s Blue Jays bump, this is only a two person competition. Nelson Cruz won, and he deserved to. Kendrys Morales is OK, but he’s not Cruz. This is a race between people who want the best player vs. Royals Fans + Trolls + PED haters. There’s nothing particular of note here, though, as it was a tight race the whole time and it stayed that way. Move along.
American League Outfield:
Two Royals winning this one, along with the best player of the world. Unfortunately, that sounds right. Everybody voted for Mike Trout, and then spread out their votes enough that Lorenzo Cain and Alex Gordon could easily take the other two spots. My question here is: in a race where you have three spots, and thus no reason to not vote for Trout, how did Trout get fewer votes than Donaldson? That casts even more doubt on the above. There are some other goofy spots in the numbers, like George Springer showing up out of nowhere to finish just outside the top 10, but that’s meaningless. Moderate outrage here, but just in conjunction with the other votes.
So there’s the numbers, folks. I’m not a huge conspiracy theorist, but these numbers do look a bit fishy at times. Did MLB juice the numbers? Are the trolls to blame, or are Royals fans just crazy? Why do Blue Jays fans hate Russell Martin? Let me know in the comments!Next post: The Un-Home Run Derby: Warning Track Power
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