7/11/2013 6:10 P.M. ET
Freeman, Delabar men of the people
Engaged electorate draws illustrative map as Puig bypassed in upset
By Mike Bauman / MLB.com
We probably needed Nate Silver, poll-analyst supreme, and master of metrics, to call this election.
There were so many people saying that Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers rookie outfielder and phenomenon, was a mortal lock to win the National League 2013 All-Star Game Final Vote sponsored by freecreditscore.com.
Puig was of the moment. The immediacy of his impact on the Dodgers, along with his five splendid tools and his all-out approach would make him the candidate of youth and thus the candidate of the Internet and thus the winner of the Final Vote.
That all made sense. Except that it didn't actually happen.
It is not clear when Freddie Freeman, at age 23, became the candidate of the established order, the candidate of tried-and-true baseball tradition.
But that is the candidate that he became in a way. The fact that he had a fine first half of the 2013 season for a first-place team, was, we all hope, still the most helpful aspect for his worthy candidacy.
Whichever way you wish to slice it, Freddie Freeman also became the winner of the National League's 2013 All-Star Game Final Vote. The first baseman of the Atlanta Braves will bring a solid resume with him to the All-Star Game. There should not be a serious argument about Freeman deserving All-Star status.
That wasn't, of course, the primary argument. The level of Puig's play was indisputable, inescapable, riveting. But he has been on board with the Dodgers for, as we speak, 35 games, roughly 40 per cent of the season to date.
The other candidates in the NL Final Vote race were worthy, as well. Outfielder Hunter Pence of the Giants, shortstop Ian Desmond of the Nationals, and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez of the Dodgers all had plenty of merit on their sides of the debate. And it is distinctly possible that the presence of Gonzalez on the ballot drained votes of some Dodgers supporters away from Puig.
Steve Delabar, Toronto Blue Jays reliever, won the AL Final Vote in a five-way contest among bullpen stalwarts. We will only appear to be giving Delabar and his AL colleagues secondary billing in this piece. Delabar was deeply deserving of an All-Star nod, as well. He and his American League counterparts simply were not in the half of the election that contained Yasiel Puig.
One thing was certain. Voter apathy was no factor.
A record 79.2 million votes were cast in this election. Freeman set an individual record with 19.6 million votes, although Puig also received more votes than the previous record-holder, Shane Victorino, who had 15.6 million votes in 2009.
In analyzing the results, for the first time we can go to the MLB.com equivalent of the electoral map. I can say this because I obviously had nothing to do with this map, but this could be one of the greatest innovations this site has ever produced. And the record will show that this site has done some serious innovating.
Every county in the country is included, with a separate breakdown for Canada. Puig drew the most Canadian support of any NL candidate, but Delabar was, to the surprise of no one who had been paying attention, the landslide Canadian winner on the other side of the ballot.
I can look on this map and see that my home county, neutral ground in this argument, was split virtually even between Freeman and Puig, with Freeman having a very slight plurality. I take this to mean that much of Milwaukee's bitterness over the Braves' departure to Atlanta has, in fact, dissipated. Then again, it was almost 50 years ago.
The southeastern United States was virtually solid for Freeman. The Braves being a truly regional team paid off in this instance.
California, for instance, was split, north and south, between Pence and Puig, largely as you would expect. Florida was split, too, northern Florida primarily for Freeman, southern Florida for Puig.
This map really represents a breakthrough and I sincerely appreciate it. This is to voting at least what the spray chart is to hitting.
In the matter of Puig vs. Freeman, a plurality of voters determined that their guy was someone who had been a contributor since the beginning of this season. Some people will think that is arbitrary. Some people will think it is more like understandable.
There will be other All-Star Games for Yasiel Puig. But the beauty of this vote was that there was no wrong or right. There were a series of very positive choices. Freddie Freeman and Steve Delabar can now bask in the status of being the peoples' Final Vote choices.
Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.