The Tigers’ “scam” (with a mostly happy ending)
When the 2009 rosters were announced, it was Longoria and the even less deserving Michael Young who got the third base All-Star roster spots. However, in 2009 there was a second fan ballot similar to how things are done now to determine the final player from each league. Over in the National League, the five player ballot was Shane Victorino (more on him in a bit), Cristian Guzman, Mark Reynolds, Pablo Sandoval, and Matt Kemp. In the American League, it was Carlos Pena, Adam Lind, Ian Kinsler, and yes…Chone Figgins and Brandon Inge.
This was a really interesting ballot as it has a mix of guys with strong overall production and guys that, well, had hit a bunch of homers. Again, looking strictly at fWAR, here is how the AL finalists ranked.
- Chone Figgins - 3.7
- Ian Kinsler - 2.9
- Brandon Inge - 2.8
- Adam Lind - 1.9
- Carlos Pena - 1.9
Again, a tough hill for Inge to climb especially with Kinsler being the most established player of the group at the time. However, Tigers fans were motivated and as it turns out, they would have some help. Remember Shane Victorino? Well, he is another fan favorite type that Phillies fans really wanted to get into the ASG. However, Kemp and Sandoval had been strictly better by fWAR and Reynolds had hit 24 homers. That was when the plan was hatched.
Going into the final vote, the Tigers and Phillies entered an unofficial alliance to urge their fans to vote for both Inge and Victorino with the teams promoting a “Bran Torino” ballot heavily in the lead up to the vote. The plan worked as both Inge and Victorino made it into the game thanks to the huge turnout. We have seen other teams do this in recent years as well with a high success rate. You have to respect the hustle.
For those worried that Figgins got completely screwed, fear not. As it turns out, Longoria was unable to play in the All-Star Game and Figgins was chosen as an injury replacement on the roster.
In the end, the All-Star Game is for the fans and if there are enough people to vote for a guy like Inge who, on paper, may be less than worthy that is more than fine. Baseball wants fans to be involved in this sort of thing and they were VERY involved to get Inge into the game. It still doesn’t make it any less hilarious, though.