COMMENTARY | The first update of National League All-Star voting results were published on Tuesday, June 4. What we have learned is that the first-place Atlanta Braves are being very disrespected, nearly across the board. Is Chris Johnson the most glaring of all the Braves snubs?
Aside from Justin Upton's lead in outfield voting, none of Atlanta's other position players are even sniffing a selection. Brian McCann, Dan Uggla and Freddie Freeman are all No. 5 at their respective positions, while Andrelton Simmons is fourth at shortstop. Freeman deserves to be much higher in the first base category, although, Joey Votto and Paul Goldschmidt do warrant first dibs on the All-Star nod. The player who should feel most underappreciated by MLB fans -- other than Evan Gattis of course -- is Chris Johnson.
Johnson ranks No. 3 in the third base voting behind both David Wright and Pablo Sandoval. While it should come as no surprise that the players with the more popular names have left Johnson on the outside looking in, he should feel somewhat slighted by just how much of a disparity was seen in the balloting. Johnson received 386,811 votes -- 707,664 votes behind Sandoval. To put his snubbing in better perspective, B.J. Upton received 420,104 votes despite only batting .153.
With a batting average of .343, Johnson is hitting at least 55 points higher than either of the men ahead of him in the voting. His .497 slugging percentage, as well as his .867 OPS, are also higher than either Wright or Sandoval.
People will argue that since Johnson had to platoon time with Juan Francisco at the hot corner over the first two months of the season his numbers don't mean as much as two players who have been playing every day. While at-bats are a valid reason why Johnson isn't currently qualified to be in the running for a batting title, it should not preclude him from an All-Star selection.
Despite the fact that Johnson has 52 fewer ABs than Wright, and Sandoval has dug his toes in the batter's box a whopping 69 more times, what Atlanta's third baseman has done so far this season is no less impressive. Given the giant disparity in at-bats, why is it that Johnson has just five fewer hits than Wright? Considering that Johnson also has more extra base hits than Sandoval, the two should feel lucky Johnson hasn't gotten the same requisite number of plate appearances or this race might be very one-sided.
Let's face it: Johnson's stats don't flex to show off their muscles quite the same way as the other two men. Three homers and 15 RBIs are not glamorous enough to merit an All-Star spot, but Johnson has done enough with his limited number of at-bats to deserve a closer race than being down by 700,000+.
Manager Fredi Gonzalez may require more of the blame for Johnson's snub than the fans do. Had he inserted Johnson as the sole third baseman much earlier in the season, perhaps the voting would have been different. As it is, the Braves ended up designating Juan Francisco for assignment, before ultimately trading him to the Milwaukee Brewers. If Gonzalez saw the writing on the wall -- or just glanced at Francisco's .241 average with 43 strikeouts -- Johnson may have had a fighting chance.
Justice will now have to be served in the form of Johnson getting enough at-bats in the second half of the season to steal the Silver Slugger Award away from the men who commandeered his All-Star selection.
Anthony Schreiber is a freelance sportswriter based in "Braves Country." He has penned articles for a variety of online publications and magazines.
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