East Coast bias. Big market arrogance. Flat-out homerism. Call it what you will—there's no question that fans' loyalties are a not-so-subtle factor when they fill out their All-Star ballots.
Two weeks ago, I attempted to quantify the impact of each team's fans' biases (methodology) by comparing the number of votes each franchise's players received (methodology for estimating unlisted players' totals) to how many they would have been expected to get in a world without bias or popularity according to my objective framework (methodology). As a reminder, the results were:
With this information at our disposal, the days of wondering how much fan loyalty tainted the results of the voting are over.
For each of the 72 American League All-Star candidates (NL to come next week) whose vote totals we know for sure, I recalculated his team's BIAS score without him (i.e., for David Ortiz I used only the other eight Red Sox) and divided it by how many votes he received to find his team-neutral vote total. So the formula is:
The results are not the normative vote totals; while the formula removes team bias (though the exact numbers on that should be taken with a grain of salt), it does not take out individual over- or underratedness or popularity. By isolating homerism, we can better determine whether a player getting too many (or too few) votes is a function of himself or his employer.
Without further ado, here are the team-neutral 2011 AL All-Stars: (vote totals in thousands)
To me, the most striking thing about the results is that they aren't that different from the actual vote totals. Only seven players got a million extra votes due to bias alone (only four of those were Yankees), while only four lost that many because of their fans' apathy. There are some differences, to be sure, but the players with big swings seem like exceptions, not the norm.
First base is the most stable position in the Junior Circuit. Mark Teixeira took a big hit but still came out ahead of Miguel Cabrera, and Adrian Gonzalez maintained his comfortable lead. The only change is the Mitch Moreland-Paul Konerko-Adam Lind switcheroo.
Second base is also pretty consistent, but things start to get hairier as we move further along the infield. There's a new winner at shortstop as Asdrubal Cabrera unseats Derek Jeter, but the changes don't stop there—the third through sixth finishers are essentially flipped, but still finish within 40,000 votes of each other. It's a similar situation at the hot corner, with a new winner (Kevin Youkilis—it makes sense when you look at the numbers, but it's weird to think that Red Sox players got too few votes) and a new runner-up (Evan Longoria).
Joe Mauer's victory at catcher highlights the fact that overratedness is still alive and well in these numbers. Save for Michael Young's lesser total the DH totals aren't terribly interesting. There are a few interesting movers in the outfield (Torii Hunter and Jeff Francoeur?), and it's no surprise to see Jacoby Ellsbury beat Josh Hamilton out for a team-neutral spot.
The most interesting thing to note here is that not all of the changes were for the better. Just looking at the winners, Cabrera and Ellsbury were more deserving than Jeter and Hamilton, respectively, but third base (where Alex Rodriguez actually won) and catcher (Alex Avila) looked a lot better before we removed fan biases from the equation. Their selections, then, look like they were correct by way of incorrect—they deserved their spots on the All-Star squad, but apparently got them only because Detroit and New York fans voted the party (er, team) line.
Again, it's important to take all these numbers with a grain of salt. The BIAS scores are far from gospel, and while the equations may make logical sense, I make no claim about how they would hold up empirically if homerism really did somehow disappear from the voting process. But if you look at them with an open mind and build in a significant margin of error, I think these numbers tell us a lot about what impact blind loyalty had on the All-Star vote.