MLB commissioner Rob Manfred considers All-Star voting system a success

Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred spoke last month before a game between the Los Angeles Angels and the Oakland Athletics in Oakland, Calif.
Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred spoke last month before a game between the Los Angeles Angels and the Oakland Athletics in Oakland, Calif. AP

The exuberance of Kansas City Royals fans became a weekly topic for debate earlier this summer when Major League Baseball released the All-Star Game voting totals each Monday. At one point, eight Royals appeared poised to start in the game for the American League, a possibility that caused an excessive amount of exasperation among the type of people who get exasperated about the All-Star Game.

During the process, new commissioner Rob Manfred kept a watchful eye on the totals. He gathered often with Bob Bowman, the CEO of MLB Advanced Media, to insure that no online fraud was being committed. In the end, Manfred was satisfied with the integrity of the process. He viewed the outcome, with only four Royals voted into Tuesday’s lineup, as proof of the wisdom in their current set-up.

“I think you saw in different places like Detroit with Miguel Cabrera and Houston with Jose Altuve, fans saying ‘Hey, OK. They voted. They had their say. But our guy is better,’” Manfred said during a discussion with members of the Baseball Writers Association of America on Tuesday morning. “And that sort of fan reaction is a really good thing for a game, and it actually gives you confidence that fan voting is a good mechanism, not only for engagement, but that they have a way of correcting themselves when things get out of whack.”

The Royals had not seen one of their players voted into the starting lineup since Jermaine Dye in 2000. With Alex Gordon back in Kansas City rehabbing his strained groin, Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar and Salvador Perez represented the club in Tuesday’s lineup. A few of their teammates were close to joining them.

Cabrera surpassed first baseman Eric Hosmer. Altuve nipped second baseman Omar Infante. Toronto third baseman Josh Donaldson also rocketed past Mike Moustakas, who made the team in the final online vote. Donaldson led all American League players in votes.

Manfred said he has been thrilled by Kansas City’s upward surge these past two seasons. Without prompting he mentioned the massive television ratings on Fox Sports Kansas City. He referred to the increasing viewership of the Royals as “another indicator of the strength of our game.”

That passion spilled into the All-Star voting. Like others around the country, Manfred wondered how exactly the Royals had compiled so many votes. Manfred said he was satisfied with the internal review of the process.

“I would summarize it this way: I don’t think you could have a process that is more complete, that is more defensible in terms of identifying fraud, than what we’re doing online,” Manfred said. “It is actually amazing the amount of time and effort that goes in, and the number of votes that actually disqualified.”

To reach Andy McCullough, call 816-234-4730 or send email to rmccullough@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @McCulloughStar. Download True Blue, The Star’s free Royals app, here.