Michael Brantley had a great half-season, but is he an All Star?                          

Friday Baseball Blogging: All Stars of Boredom

Jonathan Bernstein is a Bloomberg View columnist. He taught political science at the University of Texas at San Antonio and DePauw University and wrote A Plain Blog About Politics.
Read More.
a | A

Regular readers of this feature may have noticed that I haven't said anything about the All-Star voting and the upcoming game. There's good reason: I'm bored by it.

I'm also annoyed by the busy-bodies, mostly sportswriters, who have arrogantly declared that the game is supposed to be for the players who had the best half-seasons.

I won't even bother arguing with them. I've come to believe that the best approach to all awards and honors is to care about maybe one or two, and to either ignore the rest or to treat them as some sort of absurdist theater. So I didn't get upset when, say, Mary McDonnell and Michael Hogan and Tricia Helfer and Katee Sackhoff were passed over; I wish them well, but they were just as good whether awards-bestowers noticed or not.

Anyway...when I used to go to lots of games, I would fill out multiple ballots, each with a different theme. I'd do one that was all Giants and (my roto) Blue Sox. One that was my favorite players (lots of overlap on those). One that was the players with the best careers so far. One that was the players I expected to have the best careers from that point. My "real" All Star choices probably was the one for the players I thought were currently best, defined more or less by what I'd expect them to do over the next year or so. But I didn't think less of my other choices, or anyone else's.

If I were King of the All-Star Game, I'd only have one strong bias: All the players, to the extent possible, should be Stars. Defined by? Whatever. I basically think we know Stars when we see them, and if I disagree, that's OK. Indeed, it's fun seeing who others think of as Stars (as opposed to what others think about who had the best half-season. Nothing fun in that). The only question I'd ask is whether a player is one extended slump away from looking, in retrospect, like a silly choice. That's rarely going to happen if you pick a slumping great player, even if his slump turns out to be terminal, but it will happen if you pick ordinary players who just had what will turn out to have been the best six weeks of their career.

So I'm not especially impressed with a Dellin Betances, who has 50 good innings of Major League ball to his credit, or Erick Aybar, a perfectly fine player who is no one idea's of a star. Or Michael Brantley: great half-season, and a Blue Sox hero, but he's also about 100 games away from struggling to prove he's more than a fourth outfielder. Or Charlie Blackmon, who is sort of like Brantley without the great half-season. What's he doing on an All-Star team? Dee Gordon? Josh Harrison? Seriously?

It's no one's fault that we can no longer have starting pitchers throwing three innings, or more, in the ASG, though that also means we basically can't have outstanding pitching performances any more. But the rest of it is just ... well, it just doesn't scream "Stars" to me. What's cool about the game is the idea of getting to see all those guys on the field at the same time. Sorry, but there's just not much thrill in seeing Mike Trout and Andrew McCutcheon hanging out with Todd Frazier.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.

To contact the author on this story:
Jonathan Bernstein at jbernstein62@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor on this story:
Max Berley at mberley@bloomberg.net