Last week the results of the first round of voting for the NL All-Star team were announced. This was the primary round, where the large ballot was trimmed down by fan vote, with three position players selected at most positions, with the outfield having nine players competing for the three slots. The next round of fan voting will determine the starters. Jeff McNeil, despite his tremendous start, did not advance in the voting.
McNeil, who has played all over the diamond this year, was listed as an outfielder on the ballot. McNeils’ production would seem to be worthy of at least ranking in the top nine, but the voters’ collective will said otherwise.
McNeil has assembled a slash line of .342/.407/.494, all stats through Sundays’ action. That BA ranks third in the League, the OBP is also third, and the SLG is tied for thirtieth. He’s smacked 19 doubles which is tied for 12th.
Looking at the nine outfielders who qualified by the first fan vote, McNeils’ production should have put him in the round of nine. Let’s look at how the qualifiers have been producing with the bat.
Braves’ outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. has a line of .286/.368/.498. He’s well behind McNeil in BA and OBP, and slightly ahead in SLG. Another Braves outfielder made the final nine, Nick Markakis. His line is .276/.361/.415, far behind McNeil in all three categories.
The Dodgers also have two outfielders in the finalist group, Cody Bellinger and Joc Pederson. Bellinger is having a tremendous year, and is certain to be one of the starters. His line is .349/.444/.669. Pederson though is slashing .233/.328/.555. That’s real good power but not so good in the other categories.
Charlie Blackman of the Rockies and Christian Yelich of the Brewers are both having monster seasons and both are deserving of the other two starting spots. Blackmon, aided by the hitter friendly high elevation of his home park, is slashing .331/.376/.643. Yelich, the reigning MVP, is slashing .342/.435/.744.
The other three primary round winners are all Chicago Cubs. Jason Heyward has a line of .264/.356/.424. Albert Almora Jr. is slashing .245/.286/.396. The slash line figures are considerably below McNeils’ total for both players for all categories. Both, Almora especially, are better defensively than McNeil, partially because of McNeils’ relative inexperience in the outfield.
Then we come to the other Cub on the outfield ballot, Kyle Schwarber. He is not a particularly good fielding outfielder, he has had a few adventures patrolling left field. As for batting, his line is .231/.323/.467, worse than McNeil across the board. Looking at the overall picture, McNeil is having a better year than all three Cub outfield candidates as well as Markakis.
McNeil could still make the team as a manager’s selection, but Pete Alonso is almost certain to be an All-Star, and it might be a stretch for the Mets to have two players on the team considering the underachieving record the team has.
So why was McNeil dissed by the voters? Part of it maybe that his career has been relatively brief so far. In addition, fans can vote more than once. The Cub fans apparently followed the old mantra of the Chicago Democrat machine and voted early and often, while Mets fans were apparently less motivated at the polls.
Full disclosure: I cast exactly one ballot, and both McNeil and Alonso received my vote.