Sunday, July 06, 2008

Democracy doesn't work

The All-Star rosters have been announced and, as usual, the fans, coaches and players have made some odd choices. The only Met on the National League roster is Billy Wagner. Johan Santana, top five in the league in ERA and strikeouts, didn't make the cut. David Wright (.288/.385/.508, 137 OPS+) couldn't beat out Aramis Ramirez (.280/.379/.493, 126 OPS+) for the backup third base spot, but at least Wright made the "Final Vote" ballot.

But the biggest Met snub is Jose Reyes. At .294/.355/.482 with 29 steals, Reyes's numbers are almost identical to those of his best season in 2006 and he's doing it in a year when the average National Leaguer is hitting .258/.329/.409 compared to .265/.334/.427 two years ago. Instead of Reyes, the NL bench will feature Miguel Tejada, who's hitting .282/.319/.437 in a much better park in which to hit.

Every year the All-Star selection process yields some inexplicable results. And given the important role the All-Star Game plays both in deciding where the World Series will be played and definitively separating Hall Of Famers from washed up nobodies, I think it's time something be done. Major League Baseball needs to take the decision out of the fat, fleshy hands of fans, coaches and players and put it in the shiny metal claws of a sophisticated computer program. Ideally this computer would calculate something similar to VORP while taking into account some slightly more nebulous factors to make sure the game is still "fun." It could determine numerical values for making sure the home team and city are well represented and stocking the rosters with big-name stars that the viewing public will want to watch. MLB should probably hire NASA to design this program but if that is cost prohibitive, Nate Silver will suffice. Once this system is in place, All-Star rosters will henceforth be perfect representations of the best each league has to offer. This will ensure the fans get the best game possible, the television networks get the highest ratings ever and the grizzled old sportswriters get something to complain about. Everybody wins!

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