By The Numbers: The MLB All-Star Game Final Vote
In the latest edition of By The Numbers, we look back at the past 11 years of Final Vote goodness, one Mid-Summer Classic at a time.
2002: The voting began in 2002 to pick the 30th man on each squad, and while no Yankees were on the ballot, two future Bombers won it: then-Red Sox center fielder Johnny Damon won the vote for the AL (beating out another future Yankee in Eric Chavez) , while the NL’s final vote went to then-Braves center fielder Andruw Jones.
2003: Boston’s Jason Varitek and Milwaukee’s Geoff Jenkins earned their first All-Star berths thanks to the Final Vote in 2003, but in a cruel twist of fate, neither of them played but two of the guys they beat out did: Yankees first baseman Jason Giambi joined the AL as a replacement for Mike Sweeney, while Marlines second baseman Luis Castillo was added to the NL to replace Marcus Giles.
2004: A Yankee won the Final Vote for the first time in 2004, as Hideki Matsui beat out Frank Thomas, Lew Ford, Travis Hafner, and Paul Konerko to join the AL squad. His NL counterpart? None other than Philly’s Bobby Abreu, who would win the Home Run Derby the next year and then become Matsui’s teammate roughly 25 months later.
2005: One year after a Yankee beat out two White Sox, the South Side got its revenge when Scott Podsednik topped Derek Jeter and Matsui, as well as Torii Hunter and Carl Crawford, to earn the Final Vote. His NL counterpart would be a man he would see that October in Houston pitcher Roy Oswalt, and Philly’s Billy Wagner, who finished fourth in the NL vote, would end up on the team as a replacement for Pedro Martinez.
2006: A.J. Pierzynski made it two straight Final Vote wins for the White Sox in 2006, but it was a down year overall; neither he nor NL rep Nomar Garciaparra (then a Dodger) played, nor did candidates-turned-injury replacements Francisco Liriano (Twins) and Chris Capuano (Brewers). Fun New York note: outside of Nomar, the entire NL ballot has a Big Apple flavor; soon-to-be Yankee Abreu was on the ballot as a Phillie, Capuano and Chris Young (Padres) both would pitch for the Mets in later years, and then-Mets closer Wagner was on the ballot as the first-ever Amazins rep in a Final Vote showdown.
2007: For the first time ever, the 2007 ballot was all pitchers on both sides, with Young and Boston’s Hideki Okajima getting the nods. Candidates Oswalt and Brandon Webb would also find their way onto the NL team as injury replacements, but of the four, only Young pitched – and he ended up taking the loss after allowing Ichiro’s inside-the-park homer in the fifth inning.
2008: One year after an all-pitcher ballot, fans got an all-position player ballot in 2008, one that included two New Yorkers in Giambi and Mets third baseman David Wright. Neither won, though, as Giambi finished third behind Rays rookie sensation Evan Longoria – who set a record for votes earned in the process of winning – and Wright was a close runner-up to Milwaukee’s Corey Hart.
2009: Eight men who could’ve been first-time All-Stars were on the ballot in 2009, as only Texas’ Ian Kinsler and Washington’s Cristian Guzman had been selected before. Kinsler would finish second in the AL and Guzman fifth in the NL, ceding the spots to Detroit’s Brandon Inge and Philadelphia’s Shane Victorino instead. Two other All-Star rookies would earn their way onto the team from the Final Vote pool, as Chone Figgins and Carlos Pena both were added to the AL squad as injury replacements.
2010: Nick Swisher became the second Yankee to win the Final Vote when he beat Kevin Youkilis in 2010 in what was then the closest race ever, while his NL counterpart, Cincinnati’s Joey Votto, set a record by gaining more than half of the 26 million NL votes. Three others from 2010’s pool made the game, as Konerko, Heath Bell (Padres), and Wagner (Braves) were all added as injury replacements.
2011: The 34th men in 2011 represented one redemption and one return; on the AL side, Konerko earned his fourth All-Star nod after twice coming up short in past Final Votes, while on the NL side, Shane Victorino became the first man to win a Final Vote twice. Andre Ethier, who finished second, would later join him on the Senior Circuit squad as an injury replacement.
2012: The 2012 race had two ballyhooed rookies, one veteran making his final run, and the defending World Series MVP…and for the seventh time in Final Vote history, the fans selected a pair of first-time All-Stars in naming two of the above: Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish and Cardinals third baseman David Freese. The other two in that above group, Washington’s Bryce Harper and Atlanta’s Chipper Jones, both found their way into the game as replacements, and with White Sox hurler Jake Peavy and Braves outfielder Michael Bourn also doing the same, 2012 set a new record by seeing six of the 10 Final Vote contestants eventually end up in the Mid-Summer Classic.