Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Tommy Pham expressed his displeasure with Major League Baseball's All-Star voting, arguing that small-market teams will never get a fair shake from fans nationwide due to their lack of exposure.
“We won’t get credit, man,” Pham told The Athletic. “It’s always unfair. Big market vs. small market. It’s never going to be fair. With Avisaíl and me, when I saw the ballot of the guys ahead of us – (Red Sox) Jackie Bradley Jr. and (Yankees) Brett Gardner – and they’re hitting around .200 or lower. That tells you it right there."
Pham, batting .288 with an .862 OPS through Wednesday, ranked 15th among outfielders in the first AL voting update. The top nine finishers will move on to a second round of voting.
“When you look at the NL, too, you see all the big-market teams dominating the voting. It’s never going to be fair. It has to change because when you go into arbitration, that’s a big thing that’s talked about with accomplishments. Baseball has to be better to fix it," Pham said.
Pham joined the Rays in 2018. (Photo: Kim Klement, USA TODAY Sports)
Pham's point is certainly taken (the Yankees have a player in the top three at five positions), but there actually seems to be a good deal of parity in the initial voting this year.
All three of the Rays' outfielders rank in the top 20, with Austin Meadows currently sitting third in voting.
Jorge Polanco of the small-market Minnesota Twins is in the lead among shortstops. In fact, the Twins have five players in position to move on to the second round of voting.
In the National League, Pittsburgh Pirates slugger Josh Bell leads first basemen.
"We’re not getting any help either from ESPN. We haven’t had an ESPN game all year. That’s a way for fans to see us by putting us on one of those big-time games," Pham said. "But we continually never get put on, so all they see is the same players. The Cubs, Dodgers, Yankees, Red Sox – the same teams are always on there."
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