Baseball’s version of the All-Star Game is a messed up blend between an exhibition and a meaningful game which has forced fans into an inner debate — do I vote for who I want to see or who is most deserving or who gives the team the best chance to win?
Atlanta Braves‘ first baseman Freddie Freeman is in the final fan vote in the National League and, as of Tuesday morning, holds a slight lead over Yasiel Puig of the Los Angeles Dodgers for one of the final spots in the 2013 All-Star Game — a game that rewards the winning team with homefield advantage in the World Series.
I’m sure most Braves’ fans have cast their votes for Freeman, and I can’t blame anyone for that. But it’s also worth asking the question “does he make the National League team better?”
Freeman can hit, as evidenced by his .305 average and 56 RBIs, but so can the other National League first basemen Joey Votto, Paul Goldschmidt and Allen Craig. Meanwhile, Puig can hit, run and throw. There’s no denying that Puig can do more things than Freeman and brings more versatility for a manager trying to win a game. Puig can be used as a pinch-runner, defensive substitution in multiple positions or at the plate.
It’s not a knock against Freeman, but Puig brings more to the table.
And for Braves fans, the National League team winning could impact the Braves in the postseason. The Braves hold a five-game lead in the National League East with strong aspirations of making and advancing in the postseason.
Out of the major sports, homefield advantage arguably means less in baseball, but wouldn’t Braves fans feel much more comfortable with the team playing at Turner Field where they are 29-13? In contrast, they are just 22-25 on the road. That’s a huge difference and could be the difference in winning a World Series for the first time in nearly 20 years.
Will Freeman or Puig making the team be the difference in the 2013 All-Star Game? The chances are probably not. But it could, and that’s why the MLB All-Star Game puts fans into an unfair position when choosing who to vote for in the exhibition/meaningful game.