Brandon Belt

2012 MLB All-Star Game rosters announced – Panda marketed into starting lineup

Courtesy San Francisco Giants Facebook

After watching an awful selection show on TBS, complete with botched interviews, awkward moments and overlapping talking by the panel, we now know who will represent the Giants and the Athletics in the 2012 Major League Baseball All-Star Game on Tuesday, July 10.

From the San Francisco Giants…

Buster Posey  C  .296, 10 HR, 40 RBI – fan selection

Melky Cabrera  OF  .350, 7 HR, 38 RBI – fan selection

Pablo Sandoval  3B  .307, 6 HR, 25 RBI – fan selection

Matt Cain  P  9-3, 2.53 ERA, 114 SO – players ballot selection

From the Oakland Athletics…

Ryan Cook  P  1.59 ERA, 37 SO, 6 SV – players ballot selection

The A’s probably deserve just the one selection, but a lot of people thought Josh Reddick would be the choice with his 18 homers, .260 average, and 39 RBI. However, Cook is deserving as he has not allowed a run in 27 appearances with one or more days rest.

For San Francisco, this is the first time since 2001 that three position players will be starting (Bonds, Aurillia, and Kent). Four members of the Giants on the squad sounds about right. What’s peculiar, though, is who was selected for the squad, and how it was done.

Buster Posey and Melky Cabrera were in the race to be All-Star starters all year, and Pablo Sandoval hovered in the top five although it seemed unlikely he would overtake David Wright (.355, 9 HR, 50 RBI). But in the last week of balloting, he did.

Anyone who watched or attended Giants games in the last 10 days or so saw a tremendous amount of encouragement to vote Giants into the game. Twitter also helped, with trends like #VotePanda, #VoteAngel, #VoteMelky and #VoteBuster. Some fans resorted to fake email addresses to allow for more than the MLB limit of 25 votes. It all paid off, as Pablo Sandoval ended up beating out David Wright by a staggering 1.6 million votes. Since Sandoval was out for over a month due to injury, the fact that he got in as a starter over Wright after comparing their two lines is astonishing.

It appears that Sandoval was probably benefited from Cabrera being knocked out of the top three for outfielders a week before voting ended. Ryan Braun slid ahead of Cabrera, but in the final week Cabrera not only reclaimed his spot in the top three, he also beat out Carlos Beltran and Matt Kemp, who were convincingly in the lead for the better part of the year. Cabrera finished with 7.5 million votes, second in National League balloting only to Buster Posey’s NL record of 7.6 million.

Now for the really, really surprising part: Brandon Crawford (.232, 1 HR, 21 RBI) missed starting at shortstop by a mere 300,000 votes to starter Rafeal Furcal (.282, 5 HR, 31 RBI). Brandon Belt (.257, 4 HR, 29 RBI) finished second at first base behind Joey Votto (.350, 14 HR, 47 RBI), and Freddy Sanchez, who has not played all season, received over 2 million votes (fourth for NL second basemen). Angel Pagan (.293, 5 HR, 30 RBI) also finished fifth among NL outfielders.

Talk about stuffing the ballot box. I thought this pretty much summed up the push for the Giants:

MLB has definitely done well to market the voting and make it accessible, as this year saw 391.2 million votes according to MLB.com. Additionally, due in large part to Giants fans, the last three days of voting were three of the four highest in history.

Every year, there is some sort of snub for the All-Star game. There’s always a debate about who gets in, and that’s what makes it fun. This year, though, Giants fans may have shown how the system of fan voting can fail.

Jerry Crasnick had this to say about the whole ordeal:

He’s right. Vogelsong has the fourth-best ERA in the NL (2.23) and is 7-3 with 67 strikeouts, and Bumgarner is 10-4 with a 2.85 ERA and 92 strikeouts. Plus, Lance Lynn got in over them with a 10-4, 3.62 ERA, 98 strikeout line. He’s got the strikeouts and wins, but the ERA is not near as impressive. Regardless, it’s just another snub conversation between the two of them.

Lynn over Vogelsong and Bumgarner is debatable, but understandable. Sandoval over Wright is a little more difficult to accept, but still at least arguable (barely). Now, what about Crawford? Had he snuck in over Furcal that would have been the biggest snub/upset/surprise in All-Star Game history, and may have forced MLB to reconsider how the rosters are chosen.

The saying “the best fans in sports” is painfully overused, but in this case Giants fans may have shown they really are the best fans in baseball, at least. That, or San Franciscans and Silicon Valley dwellers are far more savvy with their computers. Either way, well done Giants fans.

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