COMMENTARY | If your boss decides to give you a raise, is it your responsibility to inform him that Sally from Accounting may actually deserve it more? The Atlanta Braves' left fielder, Justin Upton, now finds himself in a similar predicament as he is clinging to one of the three National League starting outfield spots for this summer's All-Star Game.
The 25-year-old slugger had been leading the outfield ballot up until the latest polling numbers were released on Saturday, June 15. Upton has still retained the No. 2 overall position for NL outfielders -- 73,195 votes ahead of Bryce Harper. The only problem is that -- thanks to a rocky May and June -- Upton may no longer truly be worthy of an All-Star selection. With a little less than three weeks remaining before the July 4 voting deadline, can Upton hold out long enough to steal his third trip to MLB's Mid-Summer Classic?
Upton's potential All-Star bid was unquestionably enhanced by his blazing start to the season. In his first 30 days as a member of the Braves, all Upton did was rewrite the franchise's record books with 12 home runs in the month of April. While fans could debate the validity of allowing All-Star voting to begin less than three weeks into a new season, the fact is that Upton was the best player in baseball during the first trip through the calendar. Unfortunately, in the two months that followed, the Braves' slugger has not nearly been as dynamic of a player.
Upton currently sits at 15 total home runs for the season. Two-digit subtraction has always been my Achilles' heel, but I know 15-minus-12 means that he has hit just three round-trippers since the end of April. Add in the fact that his mark of 32 RBIs is only tied with the New York Mets' Marlon Byrd for No. 32 among NL outfielders, and it quickly becomes apparent why some are questioning Upton's All-Star worthiness. Lest we not forget that Upton is also sporting a mediocre .247 batting average (No. 51 among NL outfielders).
Braves fans would love to see Upton make the All-Star roster -- considering no other player ranks higher than fourth at their respective position -- but Atlanta fans are knowledgeable enough to understand who does and does not deserve a spot on the team. Example: Freddie Freeman does, Justin Upton probably does not.
Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies
"Car-Go" is having the best year of any outfielder in either league. He is No. 1 in home runs, RBIs, Runs, Slugging percent and OPS in all of baseball; yet, Gonzalez is on the outside looking in at the National League's starting lineup.
Despite having 23 more hits, five more homers, 24 more RBIs and hitting 69 points higher than Upton, Gonzalez ranks No. 5 in All-Star voting for outfielders. He would still need to jump over both Bryce Harper and Ryan Braun -- neither of whom deserves an All-Star spot. The fans swung and missed on this pick like a 0-2 curveball to Dan Uggla.
Domonic Brown, Philadelphia Phillies
Brown's exclusion from the All-Star roster appears to be for the exact opposite reason that Upton may soon need to book a hotel in the Big Apple. Unlike Upton, the Phillies' left fielder got off to a slow start as he hit just .233 with three homers and 11 RBIs in April. Brown then exploded for 16 home runs and drove in 37 runs since the first month became a small image in the rearview mirror of the MLB schedule.
Brown ranks No. 2 among NL outfielders in home runs and RBIs -- ironically enough, he sits only behind Gonzalez in both categories. But, with only 837,748 votes, Brown is not in danger of being voted in by the fans anytime soon. He is so far off of the fan's radar that the only person in the voting results he is ranked above is the Braves' B.J. Upton.
Fans should feel embarrassed that they will not vote in either of the two most deserving outfielders this season. Philadelphia's left-handed slugger does not yet have the name recognition to get the nod over more popular players who may be less deserving.
There is always the chance that I am completely wrong and Upton does deserve an All-Star spot. To make sure the results are not tainted by fan bias, compare these player's stats in a blind experiment and try to figure out which ones deserves an All-Star selection.
Give yourself a prize if you realized that neither player really deserves an All-Star selection. Player A is the stat line of Justin Upton, while Player B lists the numbers for Colorado Rockies' centerfielder Dexter Fowler, who isn't even listed in the voting results. If you look closely you should notice that Fowler is leading Upton in eight of the 11 statistical categories.
Outfield Voting Results (as of June 15)
Carlos Beltran, Cardinals 2,385,240
Justin Upton, Braves 2,054,225
Bryce Harper, Nationals 1,981,030
Ryan Braun, Brewers 1,645,094
Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies 1,508,355
Matt Holliday, Cardinals 1,330,471
Andrew McCutchen, Pirates 1,319,419
Hunter Pence, Giants 1,286,163
Shin-Soo Choo, Reds 1,274,755
Angel Pagan, Giants 1,131,176
Carlos Gomez, Brewers 1,027,684
Gregor Blanco, Giants 934,174
Jon Jay, Cardinals 884,323
Domonic Brown, Phillies 837,748
B.J. Upton, Braves 733,744
Anthony Schreiber is a freelance sportswriter. He has penned articles for a variety of online publications and magazines.
- Sports & Recreation
- Justin Upton
- Bryce Harper
- Carlos Gonzalez