The Kansas City Royals are crowding the All-Star ballot, and it’s keeping Oakland Athletics’ catcher Stephen Vogt from earning the honor he deserves.
Sure, Ned Yost will be forced to put him on the final roster – each team has at least one representative every year, and the players and coaches get to vote for the All-Star bench. But being in the starting lineup for the game is a huge honor, and it’s one that should go to Vogt.
In 63 games this season, Vogt has smashed 12 home runs, and he’s batting .280/.383/.523. While his average isn’t especially high, a .906 OPS is extremely good for a catcher. Despite playing a position where offense is sometimes sacrificed for defense, Vogt is filling up the American League leaderboards.
His 2.5 Offensive WAR is ranked seventh, and he also has the fourth-highest on-base percentage. He’s averaging 16.1 at-bats per home run, which is the ninth-best in the league. And he’s not just doing well because of his power – it’s the little things, too. Vogt also leads the league in sacrifice flies, with six so far this season, and he’s walked 35 times – the seventh-highest total in the AL.
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Meanwhile, Royals’ catcher Salvador Perez – who leads in the voting – is batting .290/.302/.475, with 10 home runs of his own. His defense might be better – he’s thrown out 14 runners, which puts him in the top five catchers in the American League, but his offensive numbers aren’t anywhere close to what Vogt’s have been this season.
MLB needs to step in and prevent Kansas City from running the ballot. Their fans deserve to be proud of their team – the Royals went from being a terrible ball club to playing the the World Series. That doesn’t mean that all nine players are worthy of starting the All-Star Game. The most outrageous reach is Omar Infante, their second baseman, who has just a .234 on-base percentage.
It’s maddening to think about an inferior players getting the start over their more deserving counterparts. That wouldn’t happen on a regular roster, and it shouldn’t happen in a game that determines home field advantage for the World Series.
One bright side is that an All-Star appearance typically triggers contract bonuses – by voting in players who don’t deserve to be there, Royals fans are actually making their team worse by forcing the organization to pay more money to average or below-average players. But that doesn’t change the fact that deserving players from other teams are still missing out on both the honor of being named a starter and the money that they would earn for playing in the All-Star game.
Vogt has earned the right to be the starting catcher, and the fact that he’s not even close in the voting shows just how broken the All-Star balloting system is.