Posted 05/27/2009 at 03:01 PM
There is a lot of uproar with the release of the early standings for the All-Star voting in the National League. Manny Ramirez currently ranks 4th among NL outfielders. Ramirez trails Ryan Braun, Alfonso Soriano, and Carlos Beltran by reasonable margins and sits just ahead of Mike Cameron. This really should not be a big surprise, Ramirez is certainly the biggest 'star' among NL outfielders and no one else is really even close now that Ken Griffey Jr. is back in the AL.
It makes for good talk radio the speculate the prospects of Ramirez being voted in to the game despite his 50-game suspension but there is really is no disputing that Ramirez would be one of the top three offensive outfielders given his time on the field this year and last year with the Dodgers. Ramrirez is also an interesting persona and a polarizing figure with fans which certainly generates interest and votes.
There are no rules in place that stipulate a suspended player can not participate in the event and no such rule will be put in place in time for the game as it would have to be added to the collective bargaining agreement between the league and the players union. The fuss is likely unfounded as well as Ramirez is unlikely to gain ground on the top three spots. Soriano and Beltran should be safe, playing for major market teams and Ryan Braun is having an outstanding season. Braun will be the most at risk however as the early results cetainly indicate an inflation for all Brewers players as Milwaukee must have had a greater proportion of home games during the period that these results reflect.
Currently J.J. Hardy leads the race for NL shortstop, while Jason Kendall, Bill Hall, Rickie Weeks, and Prince Fielder are all in second place at their postions. If any of those players were voted in as starters it would be a much bigger travesty than Ramirez earning a spot. Fielder has had a nice season and will warrant consideration but certainly can not trump Albert Pujols, Weeks was having a great year until being injured but Kendall is hitting .211, Hall .223, and Hardy .234.
Raul Ibanez would have the biggest gripe of the NL outfielders as has had a simply amazing start to the season but if the fans want Ramirez, he should be there and he should play. With all that has happened regarding performance enhancing drug revelations in the last five years it is becoming more and more evident that fans are not as impacted as baseball purists think they are and if MLB really wants ratings for the mid-summer classic, Ramirez needs to be there, and a controversial vote-in would help the cause infinitely.