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The ethical dilemma of the All-Star ballot

Colorado Rockies news and links for Friday, June 10, 2022

I love voting. Voting in elections, voting on surveys (about which player is your favorite or the best restaurant in Denver), and for All-Star ballots. With the latter, it’s a great way for fans to be involved in the game beyond their usual spectator role.

However, it’s also fraught with ethical dilemmas and catch-22s. Every year, fans must decide how much to embrace their homer bias, how much to listen to the inner voice that says never vote for a Dodger, Giant, or Yankee, how much to favor vets who might be aging or having a down year, and what up-and-coming newbies deserve to go to the Midsummer Classic.

While every year this presents a challenge, for the last two seasons, it also serves as a nagging reminder that the Rockies no longer have a perennial All-Star staple like Nolan Arenado, prime-career Charlie Blackmon, Troy Tulowitzki, Matt Holliday, Todd Helton, or Larry Walker. In other words, since the Nolan exodus, filling out the ballot has been much less fun.

At the same time, Colorado suffers national media neglect because of its midmarket size and elevation discrimination; therefore, I want to vote for Rockies just to get numbers on the board. It’s my duty as a sports fan in the Rocky Mountains to fight East Coast bias and thumb my nose at Los Angeles. As Rockies fans, we all have a lot to consider when making our picks.

COVID-19 erased the All-Star game in 2020, the first year of the post-Nolan era. Last year, Germán Márquez pitched like a dominant ace and deserved to go. Trevor Story punched his ticket to the Home Run Derby thanks to his past resumé and to have a hometown guy for the crowd to lose their minds about. Now the Rockies seem to be in the club of sub-.500 teams that get an All-Star because every team has to have at least one. That’s not to say one, or in my opinion two, Rockies deserve to go this year regardless of the quota, but it sure is not the whole slate of five the Rockies presented on Twitter.

So, this week I have decided to go through my thinking process in filling out my ballot, as well as pointing out some issues that I think MLB could do to improve this process. First, it’s important to go over the timeline and the process, per MLB.

On Wednesday, Phase 1 of All-Star voting began, letting fans select their picks for position players, including DH, for both the AL and NL. Phase 1 will continue through noon MDT on June 30. Fans can vote up to five times a day through Phase 1. The leading vote-getter in each league will automatically start in the All-Star Game, which is slated for July 19 at Dodger Stadium.

At noon on July 5, Phase 2 will begin, featuring the remaining top vote-getters. This round will be quick and dirty, lasting only until noon on July 8, and fans can only vote once for the starters they want to see. The results will be announced on July 8. The pitchers and reserves, who are selected by the players and Commissioner’s Office, will then be announced on July 10.

Before we dive in, here’s a disclaimer. For me, filling out an All-Star ballot is much like saying what my favorite albums, books, or movies are. Depending on the day, the list will change. In many cases, selections may be backed by as much logic as wearing a lucky shirt to help the Rockies win; in other words, it only makes sense in my mind and no one else’s (and often doesn’t work).

With that, let’s do this. For brevity, which is not my strong suit, I am only going to address the NL.

First Base

This spot is always competitive with perennial power hitters like Paul Goldschmidt or fan favorites like Freddie Freeman. For years, it was dominated by future Hall of Famers like Albert Pujols and Todd Helton. In 2017, Colorado’s Mark Reynolds earned a spot. This year, this is the easiest position to fill out because I, like many Rockies fans, have happily entered the Cron Zone. I can, with a clear and joyful conscious, vote for C.J. Cron, who has 14 homers and 41 RBI, and ignore Goldschmidt’s really impressive season, knowing that Cardinal fans are many and St. Louis bias looms large as the historically dominant NL team. I have voted for Freeman in the past, but can’t anymore since he now wears Dodger blue. I like Josh Bell and Pete Alonso, but not as much as my guy.

Second Base

This pick was harder, but not because the Rockies are in play. While it’s fantastic that Brendan Rodgers won NL Player of the Week last week and is playing better, that can’t erase the seven weeks before it. Second is usually not marked by superstars, minus the standouts like Craig Biggio, Ryne Sandberg, and Roberto Alomar. After witnessing Jazz Chisholm Jr.’s work against the Rockies, it was tempting to pick him. However, I went with 2019 All-Star Jeff McNeil. He’s good, hitting .314/.368/.471 and the Mets are good.

Third Base

If there would have been a preseason All-Star ballot, I would have picked Ryan McMahon. His defense was superb and his offensive potential seemed ready to shine. Thankfully, there is not a preseason ballot because a McMahon pick wouldn’t look so great. He’s struggled in every part of his game (11 errors, .240 average, four homers), really taking a step back in his upward trajectory. So the choice came down to Nolan Arenado vs. Manny Machado. While Machado is having a spectacular season and he’s not a Dodger or Giant, he’s still a Padre. I just can’t do it. Also, when it comes to Nolan, it’s like Whitney Houston in “The Bodyguard” with Kevin Costner. Nolan and the Rockies can’t be together, but we’ll always love him. Vote goes to Arenado.

Shortstop

If there was a most surprising category, this would get my pick. Maybe it’s because Fernando Tatis Jr. is injured and he would usually dominate this category. Trea Turner has the best overall numbers with a .305 average to go with seven homers and 46 RBI, but Francisco Lindor has more homers at nine with 45 RBI. Turner is a Dodger, so he’s out and Lindor’s average is at .250, which is not All-Star level. Therefore, I can vote for the Rockie with the highest batting average (among qualified hitters in 3.1 PAs per team game played), as well as the one with the highest batting average among NL shortstops — José Iglesias at .305 (which is .20 better than the next Rockie, who happens to be Cron). Oddly, I couldn’t justify a Trevor Story vote last year because of his low numbers, but I can for the Rockies shortstop this year for a replacement that I had low expectations for.

Catcher

After last season, I might have thought Elias Díaz would be competitive here. But he’s lost his power and his average, hitting below .200 with only two homers. Brian Serven is off to a great start, but Rockies fans might have to wait for Drew Romo to be able to vote for a Rockie at catcher. Because of his numbers, and because I was a Cubs fan before the Rockies came along in 1993, my vote goes to Wilson Contreras.

Outfield

Usually, there is an easy Rockie vote here. Between Blackmon, David Dahl, Carlos Gonzalez, and Holliday, there were eight Rockies All-Stars from 2012 to 2019. This year will mark the second straight without one. Preseason hopes would have put Kris Bryant here, but he’s only played in 17 of the Rockies 57 games. If you look at the NL outfield leaderboards, Charlie Blackmon is fifth in RBI at 30, sixth in homers at nine, and ninth in average at .260 among qualified batters. If you are looking for the top three, Chuck is out. However, when the top three in some categories include the likes of Mookie Betts, Joc Pederson, and Mike Yastrzemski, Charlie could be on the bubble. Since he’s cementing his place as one of the best Rockies in team history, and since he’s been playing better, I gave the four-time All-Star the sentimental vote. That leaves two outfielder votes while removing whoever MLB decided was the designated DH, which for the Rockies is Connor Joe. I tried to write in Joe here, but his name was not allowed. Therefore, I chose Ronald Acuna, Jr., along with Mark Canha because of his batting average, which I weigh more heavily.

DH

I want to vote for Joe here so much. He’s got the best on-base percentage for Colorado at .364, which happens to be tied with Bryce Harper. However, Harper has 10 more homers, 29 more RBI, and a batting average .41 higher than Joe’s. Maybe Joe will be here someday, but he’s not here yet. It’s fun to have this category to vote in for the NL for the first time, even if Harper gets my vote.

Better voting in future

Moving forward, MLB needs to make some changes in the ballots. The first is to be more flexible or create a utility player category. Seeing DJ LaMahieu as a third baseman is weird. There are too many shifting lineups and players to be so rigid in player placement. The second is that there should be an at-large category. Sometimes there are two or more deserving and outstanding players at one position. It would be great to pick one and be able to select the other in another place.

When it comes to the Rockies fans, vote what you feel is right, just not for Dodgers. Feel free to put your picks—Rockies or otherwise—in the comments.

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Oklahoma Sooners win Game 2 of Women’s College World Series, sweep Texas Longhorns to secure back-to-back national titles | ESPN.com

If you didn’t watch any of the Women’s College World Series, you missed out. Oklahoma’s high-octane offense was beyond entertaining and Jocelyn Alo stole the show as the Sooners completed the sweep on Thursday night. The senior capped off a historic career with three 30-plus-homer seasons. She hit five homers in the series and leaves the NCAA as the home run queen at 122. This article says that “Alo will play professionally but has not said whether that will be in the Women’s Professional Fastpitch league or Athletes Unlimited, where she was drafted No. 1 overall in May.” However, maybe the Rockies, in dire need of more power, should make an offer.

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On The Farm

Triple-A: El Paso Chihuahuas 12, Albuquerque Isotopes 2

For the second straight night, the Isotopes were hit hard in a losing effort. Ashton Goudeau took the loss after surrendering seven runs on nine hits, including two homers, in four innings. The Isotopes offense was held to three hits as Scott Schebler singled twice and Bret Boswell doubled. Trailing 10-0 in the sixth, Dom Nuñez hit a sac grounder to get Albuquerque on the board. Ryan Vilade also hit a sac grounder in the eighth for their second run.

Double-A: Hartford Yard Goats 5, Portland Sea Dogs 3

Ezequiel Tovar drove in the go-ahead run in the sixth and then drove in another for insurance in the eighth to help the Yard Goats improve to 35-19 on the season. Tovar went 2-for-5 with a double and is now hitting .318/.397/.588. Isaac Collins hit a homer in the first inning and added another RBI. Noah Davis gave up three runs on seven hits with eight strikeouts and three walks in five innings for his fourth win of the season and Will Gaddis and Gavin Hollowell each pitched two innings of scoreless relief.

High-A: Eugene Emeralds 3, Spokane Indians 3

After coming back to send the game to extras and then scoring one run in the 10th and 11th, Spokane put up a great effort, but it was Eugene who came out on top when Rodolfo Bone hit a two-run, walk-off single. Evan Shawver had a great start for the Indians, throwing six scoreless innings, only giving up two hits and one walk while striking out seven. He left the game when Spokane had a 2-0 lead, but Eugene rallied back with three runs in the eighth to take the lead. In the ninth, Ronaiker Palma hit an RBI double to tie the game and send it to extra innings. Earlier in the game, Colin Simpson hit his eighth homer of the season, a solo shot to center. In the 10th, both teams added a run with Spokane scoring theirs when Eddy Diaz hit into a double play. In the top of the 11th, Robby Martin Jr. hit an RBI single to put the Indians up 5-4, but it wasn’t enough.

Low-A: Fresno Grizzlies 8, Visalia Rawhide 7

In a game that featured five lead changes and three ties, Yanquiel Fernandez hit a three-run homer to lead the Fresno offense and Warming Bernabel hit the go-ahead RBI single in the eighth to help the Grizzlies improve to 35-19. Bernabel finished with a three-hit night and also scored a run. Braxton Fulford hit an RBI double in the seventh to tie the game at the time. Sergio Sanchez had a rare night, recording a blown save and getting the win after giving up two runs in the eighth and Tyler Ahearn pitched a perfect ninth with one strikeout for the win.

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