A little late on this, but the All-Star updates were released on Monday. Their were two headlines to glean from the latest voting tallies:
1) The Royals are still in position to dominate the game, fielding starters in seven of the nine positions.
2) Their hold on their seven starting positions has become, in some cases, tenuous.
Let’s discuss item number one. The usual suspects are leading everywhere, with the exception of Eric Hosmer who has fallen behind Miguel Cabrera at first. If you read last week’s update, it was very clear there was some movement in favor of a number of Tigers. With Detroit doing their own get-out-the-vote thing combined with his nationwide visibility, it’s not surprising Cabrera added enough to his totals to leap back to the top of the first base pack.
Here’s how the first base race looks through five updates:
It remains the same two-man race, but Cabrera owns the largest lead since the updates began. He added 4,040,933 votes, a massive number. By comparison, Hosmer picked up 2,236,382 votes. Hosmer got almost the same number of votes added to his column the week prior.
Since the Tigers got serious about the All-Star vote, Cabrera has seen a nice increase. We still have one update and the final announcement, but this one feels over to me. The Royals dominating the ballot box has been a nice story, but it’s difficult to overcome the national following of Cabrera.
Moving on to the second point, Mike Moustakas saw his lead at third reduced to a dead heat with Josh Donaldson.
We knew there was building support for Donaldson, who is a strong first-half MVP candidate – if not the first-half MVP. I don’t think anyone saw this coming. Donaldson picked up 4,124,561 votes, the most in Update Number Five.
Even with the gain from week four, Donaldson’s tally in the fifth week is extremely impressive. A little further explanation of the above table: Pablo Sandoval dropped out of the top five in week four and replaced with Nick Castellanos. The Castellanos number for week three is an estimate, so his week three and four gain totals are not accurate. His week five gain is accurate, though. Again, the Tigers are driving some fans to the virtual ballot box.
Also notable this week was Mike Trout passing Lorenzo Cain for the overall lead in the outfield.
Trout’s move was similar to Cabrera. It was a superstar with a national fanbase getting into gear. If it’s really important to you that Cain (or Alex Gordon) win the overall outfield vote, I don’t know how to break this to you, but that was never going to happen. Trout is just too powerful. He will get more votes added to his account than any outfielder in the next two weeks. Count on it.
The good news to glean from this graph is the top three are pretty much set, meaning Gordon and Cain will be in the starting lineup. The danger comes from Yoenis Cespedes. Again, a Tiger. See what’s happening here? Cespedes was the second biggest gainer on the update, but was only able to pick up 300,000 votes on Cain and about 550,000 on Gordon.
Gordon gets enough national love for his defense and Cain is Cain (love that guy) so this one feels pretty safe. Two million votes in the outfield in two weeks is a lot of ground to gain.
The #VoteOmar campaign is fun and everything, but it looks like he’s running out of steam. Jose Altuve drew more votes than Infante for the first time since the first week of the voting to narrow the gap to around 450,000 votes. I’ll predict Altuve moves into first in the next update. The same thing happened at designated hitter as Nelson Cruz finally pulled more votes than Kendrys Morales. The edge there is fewer than 300,000 votes. Morales will likely lose his starting spot next week as well.
Sal Perez and Alcides Escobar are locks. Perez leads the league in total votes and Escobar is 2.6 million ahead of Jose Iglesias.
The question on everyone’s mind (at least Royals fans) is, is Major League Baseball tampering with the numbers? I don’t think so. The Royals moved ahead early, have maintained their pace, but have been passed by a national backlash and more deserving candidates. When Donaldson added four million to his total, those numbers look legit when looking at overall gains by each position with the third, fourth, and fifth place players getting smaller gains compared to another position where no single player earned a Donaldson-esque boost.
With two weeks left in the voting, my prediction is the Royals will get four starters: Perez, Escobar, Cain and Gordon. Order will be restored. Baseball will survive.