Nine Twins on MLB All-Star ballot

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 25, 2014 - 5:11 PM

Major League Baseball will release ballots today for the July 15 showcase at Target Field. So punch, or click, away.

Joe Mauer and eight other members of the Twins are on the MLB All-Star Game ballot that was released Friday afternoon at Target Field.

The others are second baseman Brian Dozier, shortstop Pedro Florimon, third baseman Trevor Plouffe, catcher Kurt Suzuki and four outfielders -- Josh Willingham, Oswaldo Arcia, Aaron Hicks and Jason Kubel.

Come back to startribune.com later for more updates.

 

Terry Steinbach knows from experience that there’s no perfect way to pick baseball’s All-Star teams.

The 2014 season isn’t quite 4 weeks old, but in keeping with recent tradition, Major League Baseball will release its annual All-Star ballot Friday. This opens a 10-week election to pick the starters for this year’s showcase, on July 15 at Target Field.

The selection process has changed numerous times and spurred plenty of debate since 1933, when the Chicago Tribune asked fans to vote on the starters for the first All-Star Game. Now, more than 30 million ballots are cast each year, with about 80 percent of those submitted online.

Over the years, there have been notable examples of ballot stuffing, including the effort that helped make Steinbach the American League’s starting catcher in 1988, despite a .217 first-half batting average. Reports surfaced that summer of an Oakland fan designing a board of nails to punch bundles of ballots with votes for Steinbach and other Athletics players.

“Should I have been there? Probably not, if you look at the numbers,” said Steinbach, now the Twins bench coach. “But I wasn’t going to turn it down, and I wasn’t going to let it bother me.”

The New Ulm native and former Gophers standout became an unlikely All-Star MVP when he homered off Dwight Gooden and added a sacrifice fly, leading to a 2-1 AL victory.

Voting follies

The most notable ballot-stuffing incident came in 1957, when Reds fans managed to get seven of their players voted into the starting lineup. The Cincinnati Enquirer had printed pre-marked ballots, and readers submitted them to the league office en masse.

Commissioner Ford Frick, who bristled after five Reds starters were elected thanks to a similar effort one year earlier, took action in 1957. He replaced Cincinnati’s Wally Post and Gus Bell in the NL lineup with two guys named Willie Mays and Hank Aaron.

Frick also took the vote away from the fans. They didn’t get it back until 1970, but they’ve had it every year since.

“I think no matter who has had the final say in choosing teams, there’s always been complaints about some people on the roster,” said David Vincent, co-author of “The Midsummer Classic: The Complete History of Baseball’s All-Star Game.”

The All-Star ballot lists one player from each team at each defensive position. Teams must decide which players to list during spring training, so key players often get left off. Rico Carty made it as a write-in in 1970, and four years later, Steve Garvey went from write-in candidate to All-Star MVP.

In the strike-shortened 1981 season, Davey Lopes and Reggie Jackson were All-Star starters, despite their .169 and .199 batting averages. In 1989, fans voted Mike Schmidt the National League’s starting third baseman. Thanks, but no thanks, he said. He had been retired for several weeks.

By 1999, fans could vote online, and a 25-year-old Red Sox fan created a computer program that allowed him to submit 39,000 votes for Nomar Garciaparra. The commissioner’s office rejected those and has since restricted fans to 25 votes per account on mlb.com.

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