COMMENTARY | It's the classic "Sophie's Choice" between the reliable Honda Civic, or the flashy Lamborghini Diablo that handles well but has only driven two blocks and already needs to stop at the gas station.
In the 2013 MLB All-Star Game Final Vote, the Atlanta Braves' first baseman, Freddie Freeman will have to hope fans have paid close enough attention to want to pluck him from relative national obscurity and place him on the National League All-Star roster. Freeman will have to jump over the Los Angeles Dodgers' hot-shot rookie, Yasiel Puig, if he wants to represent the Braves in New York for this season's Midsummer Classic.
I have to confess that this article got rewritten. After looking it over I realized it had devolved into the top 10 reasons Puig's name even being considered for the All-Star Game was a complete and utter affront to any integrity or merit for which the MLB All-Star Game is supposed to stand.
I have a second confession to make…it just happened again. To paraphrase a ranting diatribe, Freeman should not have to be pitted against a rookie -- scratch that, it is too early to even call him a rookie -- an MLB fetus -- there, that's better -- like Puig.
I'll save fans the suspense: Puig is going to win the fan vote. New sensations are like wildfires: they are hard to predict, but when they happened, they spread like…well…wildfire. Puig received 842,915 write-in votes on the main ballot -- most since Freddy Sanchez in 2006.
Puig exploded onto the scene after being called up for the Dodgers' June 3 match-up with the San Diego Padres. The 22-year-old right fielder hit four home runs and 10 RBIs inside of his first week at the big league level. However, he has played in just 31 of the Dodgers' first 86 games, and his 123 at-bats are 144 ABs shy of even qualifying among big leaguers in any statistical category. I'm not sure how one can be an All-Star while not remotely being eligible for a shot at the batting title.
Consider this: Of the nine MLB clubs Puig has played since being called up, only the San Diego Padres have seen him in more than one series. How can Puig an All-Star for a season in which the teams in his own division have not even had a chance to make adjustments?
As for the Braves' would-be All-Star, Freeman has been the cleanup hitter on a first place team for the entire season. He is the only player on the fan vote who is hitting above .300, and his 56 RBIs are also tops among the group. Paul Goldschmidt and Joey Votto's remarkable first half blocked Freeman from getting voted in outright on the original ballot, but he is certainly an All-Star by anyone's measure.
Puig does have to go up against teammate Adrian Gonzalez, so maybe LA fans will split their votes between the two and Freeman can slide in under the radar.
Some could point to Jason Heyward's 2010 inclusion in the All-Star game as hypocrisy by Atlanta fans, considering his first-year stats of .251 with 11 home runs and 45 RBIs at the break may not have been worthy of being selected as a starter, but there is a big difference between Heyward and Puig. For one, Heyward started that season in the big leagues from Day 1. By the time the All-Star Game came around, Heyward had played in 75 games and had accumulated 255 at-bats.
Puig may be a young, electrifying player with a bright career ahead of him, but he is not an All-Star this season. If Major League Baseball wants to make home field advantage contingent on the winner of an exhibition game, then they have to stop with these obvious headline-grabbing publicity stunts. They can't have it both ways. It is either a fun weekend for the fans, or it is a meaningful game with World Series implications. If they choose the latter, then teams who actually have skin in the race need to be better represented. Why not mandate that the divisional leaders at the break get a certain number of players sent to each All-Star game? That way winning games and earning home field advantage may actually --you know -- have a chance to go hand in hand.
Freddie Freeman, 1B, Atlanta Braves
Hunter Pence, OF, San Francisco Giants
Ian Desmond, SS, Washington Nationals
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Los Angeles Dodgers
Yasiel Puig, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
Joaquin Benoit, RP, Detroit Tigers
Steve Delabar, RP, Toronto Blue Jays
Tanner Scheppers, RP, Texas Rangers
Koji Uehara, RP, Boston Red Sox
Anthony Schreiber is a freelance sportswriter. He has penned articles for a variety of online publications and magazines.
- Sports & Recreation
- Los Angeles Dodgers
- Atlanta Braves
- Yasiel Puig
- Freddie Freeman