Are Rays getting robbed in all-star voting?

by Gary Shelton on June 20, 2023

in general

Should Franco start the All-Star game?/TIM WIRT

Tuesday, 4 a.m.

This, I suppose, is the time you yell at the ballot box. This is the time you slam your fist down and lament larger markets and biased fans. This is the time you voice your outrage at the fan voting.

That’s what fans do, of course.

They follow one team, usually, and as such, they tend to view the world the same as the team does. They see the hot start of the Tampa Bay Rays, who despite a bad road trip still lead the majors in victories. They envision an all-star game where Rays gather on the infield and pose like Randy Arozarena.

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On the other hand, maybe the fans aren’t that wrong, after all.

I know, I know. Wander Franco is running third in the balloting, and he’s been among the top WAR players in the league. Arozarena, one of the most charismatic players in the league, is fourth. Yandy Diaz, off to a terrific start, is second. You have to scroll for a while to find Josh Lowe (12th) or Harold Ramirez (fifth).

And so you shake your head. You roll your eyes. You feel robbed.

But are you? Really?

Look, I agree with you. I’d make Franco my starting shortstop and be done with it. But Bichette is second in the American League in hitting at .315. He leads in the league in hits. I’d still give it to Franco, who has had a better year defensively at a defensive position, but no, it isn’t robbery that Bichette is leading. (Corey Seager, in second place in the voting, is hitting .363 but hasn’t batted enough to qualify in the statistics). 

Ah, but how about Arozarena? Fans love Arozarena, the biggest showman in the game. Say what you want about his posing, about his interaction with the fans, but it’s fun. It ’s no more offensive than running through the dugout with an ugly vest or a toy hammer to celebrate. The fuddy-duddies who harumph still think Eisenhower should be president.

But the outfield is generally a power position. How are you going to ignore Shohei Ohtani’s 24 homers or Aaron Judge’s 19 or Yordan Alvarez’ 17.  Arozarena has an argument, but there are a lot of voices to be heard.

Lowe? He’s a newbie, who came in with zero name recognition. That hurts him. He’s platooned a lot, and that doesn’t help.  You can argue that he should be higher in the voting, but not much.

Diaz is the closest thing the Rays have to a starter. He trails Vlad Guerrero (the voting should be updated today) although he has a higher average and more home runs. That’s where increased fan voting and name recognition come into play. Again, I’d vote for Diaz, but Guerrero is a fine player. He's had 80 home runs the last two years; that has to be a factor in the minds of the voters.

The rest of the Rays? Isaac Paredes is sixth, which isn’t far off from where he should be. Christian Bethancourt is seventh. No argument. Brandon Lowe is seventh, which seems a little high with his start and his injury.

So how does it shake out when you fill in the squad. I think Diaz makes it. I think Franco makes it. I think Arozarena makes it. I’m sure that Shane McClanahan makes it, and maybe Zach Eflin.

But if I ran the Rays, I’d remind them that this is their strength. They have depth. They have a lot of quality players having quality seasons. I’d remind them that there are a lot of great players around the league.

As a team, however, the Rays have led the world in the first half of the season. There is something to be proud of in that. 

Behind the top half-dozen at your position isn’t a bad thing.

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