The Kansas City Royals have become one of the most popular teams in baseball over the last year, but no could have predicted this. The Royals’ fan base has essentially taken over the All-Star vote, as five Royals – outfielders Lorenzo Cain and Alex Gordon, catcher Salvador Perez, shortstop Alcides Escobar and second baseman Omar Infante – remain the top vote-getters at their respective positions.
Major League Baseball may or may not be pleased about this.
“Yeah, they don’t like it,” Bleacher Report MLB columnist Anthony Witrado said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “It’s a little bit unprecedented just because of the total amount of votes, but they’ve canceled out more than 60 million votes this year just over the last week to 10 days because they didn’t like the way things were . . . (leaning) heavily toward the Royals. They took this step after the fifth update came out and (they saw that) the Royals had eight of the nine starters for the All-Star game. So they went and did that.”
Witrado believes one of two things will happen as a result of overzealous Royals voters: either home-field advantage for the All-Star Game will be taken away (less likely), or there will tweaks made to how starters are elected (more likely).
“While it’s nice to have the fans voting, when the game is as significant as this All-Star Game is – which is stupid on its own, but it is what it is – you can’t allow this to be a popularity contest the way this All-Star vote has turned into,” Witrado said. “You have to have some sort of competitive advantage in your league. You can’t have Omar Infante, who’s one of the worst second baseman in the American League, starting. Up until this last vote – it looks like he might be overtaken – but he’s in the lead. And so, you can’t have things like that happen when this game is supposed to be as important as Major League Baseball wants it to be. So I think while the vote might not be taken completely from the fans’ hands, I think it might be weighted differently in the future.
“I really do think it’s good for the game what the Royals fans have done here,” Witrado continued. “It’s brought a ton of attention to a process that really doesn’t get any just because it’s sort of ho hum. So this brings a lot of attention to the All-Star Game before the All-Star Game even happens – and I think that’s good for baseball. What else is good for baseball in this whole Royals situation is you’ve ignited a whole part of the country that completely just didn’t care (and) was very different about baseball because their franchise was terrible so long. So anytime you bring back a fan base and you gain so many new fans, it’s good. It can’t be argued that it’s a bad thing, really. But for this particular reason, something does have to be done.”