Pham was sharply critical of the voting and what he sees as big markets having an unfair advantage over small and cited Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. and Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner as prime examples of the bias.
"We won't get credit, man," Pham told The Athletic. "It's always unfair. Big market vs. small market. It's never going to be fair. With [fellow Rays outfielder] Avisaíl [Garcia] and me, when I saw the ballot of the guys ahead of us – Jackie Bradley Jr. and Brett Gardner – and they're hitting around .200 or lower. That tells you it right there."
Pham is hitting .294 with nine homers, 30 RBI and an .865 OPS. He and Garcia (.299, 11 HR, 31 RBI, .865 OPS) have helped Tampa Bay take over first place in the AL East by a half-game over the Yankees.
A recent hot streak has pushed Bradley above .200 at .211. He hit his seventh homer Friday night and has driven in 23. Gardner (.227, 11 HR, 27 RBI, .748) has matched the Tampa Bay duo with power but not in average.
Gardner (138,426) was 13th in voting released this week, Bradley 14th (124,490) and Pham 15th (119,691) so don't expect any of them to be heading to Cleveland for the All-Star Game July 9. Another member of the Rays outfield, Austin Meadows, was third (468,111) behind the Astros' George Springer (776,352) and leading vote-getter Mike Trout of the Angels (951,002), so he stands a good chance of representing the Rays. AL MVP Mookie Betts of the Red Sox was fifth.
A new two-tiered system of voting has the first round of balloting ending this Friday at 4 p.m. and the top three at each position (and top nine outfielders) are then voted on.
Pham complained about a lack of exposure hurting the Rays at the ballot box. The second-worst attendance in baseball (just over 14,000 a game) doesn't help either.
"When you look at the NL, too, you see all the big-market teams dominating the voting. It's never going to be fair. It has to change because when you go into arbitration, that's a big thing that's talked about with accomplishments," he told The Athletics. "Baseball has to be better to fix it. We're not getting any help either from ESPN. We haven't had an ESPN game all year. That's a way for fans to see us by putting us on one of those big-time games. But we continually never get put on, so all they see is the same players. The Cubs, Dodgers, Yankees, Red Sox – the same teams are always on there."
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