That headline may be a little misleading. They still haven’t gotten the actual All-Star voting right, but they have added something to the ballot that made me happy.
Just like last year around this time, I went to the Cardinals-Cubs series at Busch Stadium. Just like last year, I grabbed an All-Star Ballot and set to work. I picked the roster that I felt represented each league the best. There are going to be some interesting position battles, most notably the 1st base battles in each league. For the AL, do you go with Justin Morneau, Mark Teixeira, or Carlos Pena? Teixeira, by the way has raised his batting average 55 points in the last 10 games. In the NL, do you go with Albert Pujols or Adrian Gonzalez? This one is a little more clear-cut as their stats are basically the same except Pujols’ average is 49 points higher.
Anyway, that’s not the point of this post. The focus is the little voting section on the back flap of the All-Star Ballot.
As I said last year when I was trying to fix the All-Star Game, Major League Baseball needs to figure out a way to let the fans vote for something, but not if it’s going to be important. As Americans tend to prove time and time again (and again on Wednesday night), we’re terrible at voting for the right person. Yes, that was an American Idol reference.
So now, fans can vote for the participants in the Home Run Derby. Brilliant. The Home Run Derby doesn’t matter. It’s all for the fans, it’s the perfect thing for fans to vote on. Fans are able to vote for three participants from each league. Unless they’re cutting it down to six participants this year, that leaves one player who will be selected by MLB, which is also fine.
I’m also assuming that the players who are listed on the ballot have already agreed to participate if they are selected. It would be a shame for Ichiro to get picked and then decline the invite.
So here’s a quick list of the players on the ballot in each league:
AL: Miguel Cabrera (DET), Vladimir Guerrero (LAA), Josh Hamilton (TEX), Evan Longoria (TB), Justin Morneau (MIN), David Ortiz (BOS), Carlos Quentin (CWS), Alex Rodriguez (NYY), Grady Sizemore (CLE), and Ichiro (SEA).
NL: Lance Berkman (HOU), Adam Dunn (WAS), Prince Fielder (MIL), Ryan Howard (PHI), Chipper Jones (ATL), Albert Pujols (STL), Hanley Ramirez (FLA), Manny Ramirez (LAD), Alfonso Soriano (CHC), and David Wright (NYM).
Upon further inspection, every AL hitter has participated in at least one Derby except Carlos Quentin and Ichiro and he has batting practice power that rivals anyone on this list. On the NL side, fans have the option of selecting three potential first timers in Dunn, H. Ramirez, and Soriano.
When I look to vote for a home run contest, I want to know two things: Who can hit the most? Who can hit them the farthest?
In the AL, Hamilton proved last year that he fits both criteria. He’s an easy pick. Alex Rodriguez needs to get into all the popularity contests he can, plus he can hit balls a long way, so he gets my vote. The last player I’m picking is Ichiro for the reason I mentioned above. During my time in Seattle, I used to watch him take batting practice before anyone else was in the stadium. He used to line balls into the upper-deck at Safeco Field with ease. It was like he could hit a home run on command. I’d like to see him in one of these contests.
For the NL, my first pick is Albert Pujols. The Derby is in his home ballpark, it would be great for the fans and he just knocked the “I” out of “Big Mac Land.” Works for me. Second is Adam Dunn. All he does is it hit massive home runs, which makes him perfect for a contest like this. Finally, I’m going with Ryan Howard. He kind of works the same way as Dunn.
That gives me only two right handed hitters and four lefties, but I think that I’ve put together a Home Run Derby field that would be impressive to watch. Tell me fans, who would have in your Home Run Derby?