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Is the Major League Baseball All Star Selection System Flawed?

Updated on September 25, 2014

MLB All Star Game 2014

Justin Upton is the controversial snub from this year's NL all star team.
Justin Upton is the controversial snub from this year's NL all star team. | Source

Surprises on the final ballot

The final ballot for each league's all star team featured players that many were surprised to see not in the game already. The White Sox's Ace Chris Sale ended up winning the vote for the American League, and the Cubs first basemen Anthony Rizzo won the vote for the National League. In the American League, Chris Sale is one of the best pitchers in the league and fans were surprised that American League manager John Farrell had not already selected him for the all star game. In the National League, Justin Upton was on the final ballot, but with Anthony Rizzo ultimately winning the vote, a very deserving player was left off the all star team. This leads to the question of how did something like this happen? and is the all star selection system in baseball flawed? A closer look at the process will give a better idea of what changes can be made and what needs to remain the same.

An exhibition game for the fans

The middle of the week off from regularly scheduled games in Major League Baseball, to put on display the all star festivities, is done to bring in revenue by putting on a show for the fans. For this reason the all star balloting which puts significant weight on the fans votes, is the right way to select the all star teams. The fans chose not to vote Justin Upton into the all star game with his first opportunity on the ballot, and they passed over him again on the final ballot. While in the past, some fans have stacked the ballots to get their favorite team's players into the all star game, there is a certain balance in the vote that allows other fan bases to change the selection. Everyone who has a neutral stance on certain players, typically wants to see the most deserving players voted into the all star game. Seeing possible deserving players left out of the all star game makes fans unhappy when a certain fan base voted a bunch of times to get their favorite team's players into the game. This becomes a point of contention especially when certain players were voted in by an active fan base and their numbers fall well short of the standard that has been set for all star players in that given season. Ultimately the show is put on for the fans and every fan base has an equal chance to participate in the voting, so controversy can be avoided if every baseball fan is an active participant.

National League Manager chooses controversial players

The managers for each team are trying to assemble a team that gives them the best chance to win the game since the all star game decides home field for the World Series. National League manager this year, Mike Matheny selected five relievers for the all star game, which is a game that starters usually throw one to two innings each. This led to questions about why so many relievers would be selected to the all star game. Matheny's approach to the game has been that he wants to win and the logical answer to this question would be that relievers are more comfortable pitching in save situations. Pirates setup man Tony Watson was one noteworthy player that was considered to be controversial because he was on the team over Padres all star worthy closer Huston Street. Already having multiple closers on the team, led Matheny to choose a middle relief pitcher who is having a great year, to help get key left handed batters out in the later innings. One more starter could have been selected to the all star game with one less reliever, but Matheny decided to use his selections to give himself strong late inning relief pitching options in the game.

The other player that Mike Matheny chose and was controversial, was Pirates super utility player Josh Harrison. Harrison has made a number of starts for the Pirates in both right and left field this season, but he does not have the number of at bats that all the other all star players have this season. Matheny chose Harrison because he is a player having a great year and putting on display legitimate five tool ability. There is a strong argument that players like Casey McGehee, Justin Upton and final vote winner Anthony Rizzo should have been selected over Harrison, but none of these players have the ability to play every outfield position along with nearly every infield position. McGehee and Upton are both very deserving of all star bids this season, but without the fan vote, players vote or manager selection, neither of them are going to be participating in the all star game without an injury or declining of an all star bid before the game happens. While these players should have made the all star game, what is at stake with the outcome of the all star game, may have caused them to get excluded.


Unlike in some years past, the fan vote for the all star game put the most deserving players in the starting lineups. Controversy surrounding Derek Jeter's selection to the all star game would have more relevance if one American League shortstop had separated himself from the rest of the players at the position this season. As far as the managerial selections in the National League, with the game deciding home field for the World Series, the manager is going to pick the most deserving players that possess the versatility that he is comfortable with in the later innings. Until the all star game is once again truly just an exhibition game, some of the managerial selections will be somewhat controversial. Ultimately the fan vote worked out well this season, and the all star selection process has proved to be quite solid when all the fans are active participants.


MLB All Star Game 2014

Should Justin Upton have been a managerial selection to the all star game?

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    • Josh Ruga profile image

      Joshua Ruga 3 years ago from New Jersey

      Thanks for commenting. All these ideas are good, and its hard to put the perfect system in place. We will see how the events unfold and if a situation pops up where they could have used some of the players that were left off.

    • Fullerman5000 profile image

      Ryan Fuller 3 years ago from Louisiana, USA

      Justin Upton should be there. Just like Chris Sale and Garret Richards. I do think some of the voting should be left up to the professionals. Some players deserve to be there and some others do not. J Up should be there for sure. I think the voting does have some flaw to it. I know it's a game for the fans, but come on if the stats aren't there, don't vote them in . Great hub

    • lions44 profile image

      CJ Kelly 3 years ago from Auburn, WA

      Great article. The All Star game ratings mirror the declining World Series ratings over the past 25 years. So it's time for a radical change. Rizzo over Upton is silly. All Chicago Cubs have inflated numbers (sorry if you're a Cub fan). Why not both of them? Expand the rosters to 50 each. The game is in desperate of all these guys to break out nationally. There's also a racial component as well. White players will receive a disproportionate amount of votes from a mostly white fan base in the U.S. But Morneau was left off too, so maybe my theory is shot. Anyway, why not 2 All Star games? End of June and middle of August? Not feasible? They used to do that. It's time to bring it back. The players get a rest and the game gets another spotlight during NFL training camp season. How about AAA players against All Stars in a nationally televised game? College vs. Pros? The game needs help (in my opinion). Voted up.