Predicting the All-Star teams can sometimes be a hopeless exercise due to the unpredictability, but it is all fun and games. The first pieces that come into play for the All-Star rosters are the fan submitted votes where the leading vote getters at each position (three in the outfield) are automatically named to the All-Star team as a starter. Next, the players vote for 8 pitchers (5 starting pitchers and 3 relief pitchers) and for a backup at each position (if the leading vote getter amongst the players was already voted in by the fans then the second leading vote getter amongst the players is named as an All-Star reserve). Then the managers of the All-Star teams select the remainder of the roster until the roster has 33 players. Finally, there are then 5 players from each league that are put on the “final man ballot” to be voted on by the fans for the 34th and final spot on each league’s respective roster.
The fans can do some pretty weird things in the voting like currently having five Royals players currently slated to be All-Star starters despite being undeserving of it. Also, the players/manager selections can be strange and biased to include even more drama. But I am going to do my best to predict each league’s All-Star roster. What you’re about to read isn’t who I think should be All-Stars, but rather it is what I think will happen with both the fans and the players/manager votes.
***Starters listed in green
Catchers – Salvador Perez, Stephen Vogt, Russell Martin
Perez will be named the AL starter at catcher due to the ginormous lead that he currently has over Martin. Insanely enough, Perez was the leading vote getter in all of baseball up until the latest poll update. While Perez is enjoying his best year at the plate in his career, he is not one of the top three catchers in the AL and is not deserving of the All-Star nod. The best catcher from the AL has been Vogt who has carried that A’s offense on his back at times and he leads all AL catchers in the three tripe crown categories (AVG, HR, and RBI). So Vogt should be the player’s choice at catcher and should definitely be ticketed for Cincinnati. It’s highly doubtful that the team will carry four catchers, but because of the whacked out All-Star voting that has Perez as the top catcher, one of Martin or Brian McCann will be left off the team even though they are both deserving. Just going by all-around stats, with Martin leading all MLB catchers in runs and stolen bases as well as his greater defensive abilities, Martin would be the better selection.
Snubbed: Brian McCann – see above
First Basemen – Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder
Cabrera recently took over the fan vote from Eric Hosmer and rightfully so because Hosmer is having a fine season, but he shouldn’t be garnering All-Star attention with the way some of these other first basemen are performing — and it would be a mockery if Royals/AL All-Star manager Ned Yost put Hosmer on the team anyway. Cabrera has been one of the best hitters in the game this season and has the best all-around stats at the position in the American League. In a resurgent season, Pujols who is leading the AL in HR has to be heading to the All-Star game. What kind of All-Star game would it be if the league leader in HR didn’t make the roster? And then of course there is Fielder who has been having a resurgent season also and he is neck and neck with Cabrera in the battle for the AL batting crown.
Snubbed: Mark Teixeira – Teixeira is deserving of a spot with the way that he has bounced back this season, but unfortunately there are two other veteran first basemen who have bounced back better.
Second Basemen – Jose Altuve, Jason Kipnis, Brian Dozier
Currently, Royals second baseman Omar Infante has a small lead over Altuve for the second base spot in the American League, but it would be extremely disappointing if MLB fans were dense enough to send Infante and his .237 AVG and 0 HR to the All-Star game. Altuve isn’t deserving of the starting spot either, but he’s at least performed well enough to be an All-Star and I expect him to take the lead over Infante to bring some sanity to this world. An argument can be made for either Kipnis or Dozier as the best overall AL second baseman performance so far, so both of them should be included on the roster as reserves.
Third Basemen – Josh Donaldson, Manny Machado, Mike Moustakas
The two clear cut best third basemen in the American League are Donaldson and Machado, and thankfully Donaldson recently just took the voting lead over Mike Moustakas. Moustakas is having a nice season in his own right, but he’s definitely third fiddle to Donaldson and Machado. But even though I don’t think that he belongs on the All-Star team, I am going to say that Yost puts Moustakas on the team anyway to reward his own player for his breakthrough season.
Shortstops – Alcides Escobar, Jose Reyes
Because Reyes had a DL stint and Carlos Correa didn’t play in his first game until June 8, the options at shortstop for the American League are rather unspectacular. However, it does appear that Escobar (another Royal, what a surprise) should be able to hang on as the leading vote getter over the Tigers Jose Iglesias. So expect to see Escobar batting 9th in the AL starting lineup. I think the player vote is going to go to Reyes over someone like Iglesias because of Reyes’ reputation amongst the players being around the league. If he didn’t fall into a 2 for 18 slump then his stat line would be looking much better than it is now and he would be more deserving, but it would be difficult to quibble that he shouldn’t be an All-Star given the alternatives.
Snubbed: Jose Iglesias, Carlos Correa – Though Iglesias has no power and isn’t flashy on offense, he is actually enjoying a nice season at the plate hitting .330 with 9 SB. Iglesias has also been the top AL shortstop defensively, so it wouldn’t be the worst idea to send him to Cincinnati for the All-Star game. Yes, Correa hasn’t even played a full month in the Majors yet, but he is showing to be one of the top shortstops in the Majors on both sides of the ball. He undoubtedly is the most exciting shortstop to watch in the American League already, but I don’t think that his league mates and All-Star coaches will feel that he should be selected.
Outfielders – Mike Trout, Lorenzo Cain, Jose Bautista, Brett Gardner, George Springer
The three current leading vote getters for the AL outfield are Trout, Cain, and Alex Gordon. Trout is obviously one of the best players in the league and is deserving of a starting nod, but once again these Royals players are sneaking in to the top spots undeserving of it. I don’t have as much of a problem if Cain were to get voted in, which is looking likely, but Gordon really has no business being on the All-Star team this year. I’m going to predict (and hope) that current 5th place vote getter, Bautista, leap frogs both Yoenis Cespedes and Gordon to nab that third outfield spot. But there are two outfielders that are incredibly not even in the top 15 in voting that I feel are the second and third most deserving guys next to Trout, and those two players are Gardner and Springer. Gardner has been good all season long, but lately he has just been sizzling and is undoubtedly an All-Star. Springer is one of a handful of players in the Majors this season who has double digits in both HR and SB, which is a great thing in itself. But in addition to that, Springer just plays out of his mind defensively in right field for the Astros, making highlight play after highlight play. It is very surprising to me that the fans are not showing more love for Gardner and Springer.
Snubbed: J.D. Martinez – Martinez has really come on strong as of late, but because it has been so late and closer to the All-Star selection, it may not be enough for him to get on to the All-Star team even though his offensive numbers suggest that he is deserving.
Designated Hitters – Kendrys Morales, Nelson Cruz
Cruz is currently hanging on to a very slim margin over the Royals Kendrys Morales for the starting DH spot, and once again it would be a disappointment to automatically send the Royals player to the All-Star game when Cruz is clearly having a better season. But I am going to say that the Royals faithful shows up and is able to get Morales in as the starter.
Snubbed: Alex Rodriguez, Jimmy Paredes – With all disdain for A-Rod and his actions aside, he is deserving of heading back to an All-Star game. He’s been a force in the Yankees lineup and has been hitting well all season long as their DH. However, with my prediction of Morales retaking the lead as the starting DH, there would presumably be no room for A-Rod. But I also wouldn’t even be so sure that the players and/or manager would even select him in as a reserve since there are probably lots of individuals in the league who don’t respect him. So if Morales is voted in, then this might actually save A-Rod some embarrassment. Paredes has also been enjoying a fine season since being called up and acting as the Orioles primary DH. He got a late start to the season and is not a well known name, but he should garner some attention at least.
Starting Pitchers – Chris Archer, Chris Sale, Dallas Keuchel, Sonny Gray, David Price, Felix Hernandez
These 6 starting pitchers are really no-brainers that should be on the All-Star team. Whichever of the 6 doesn’t get voted in by the players will undoubtedly be included by the manager. But after these guys, there’s not a whole lot to like from AL starting pitchers. Scott Kazmir could be worthy of a spot, but I don’t think that Yost selects him due to the issues that his Royals squad had with the A’s this season. And then Hector Santiago and Yovani Gallardo have some nice stats on the surface, but neither of them strike me as deserving of a spot or players that Yost will select. I think Yost is more likely to choose some extra bullpen arms to mimic his own Royals team.
Snubbed: None – Though the players mentioned above (Kazmir, Santiago, and Gallardo) could possibly make the team, I would not say any of them would be “snubbed” if they don’t.
Relief Pitchers – Dellin Betances, Glen Perkins, Zach Britton, Wade Davis, Koji Uehara, Darren O’Day
Though Betances has not been closing games all season for the Yankees, he is certainly one of the most deserving relievers of an All-Star spot. Perkins and Britton should also have their spots pretty secure as two of the league’s top closers. Davis and his 0.27 ERA and being a Royals player make him a shoe in. But the last two names on the list, Uehara and O’Day, are some interesting picks that I am going with. Every team needs to be represented in the All-Star Game, but the Red Sox don’t really have an obvious player to send. I could envision Brock Holt being selected as a utility guy that could fill in anywhere like he has been doing for the Red Sox all season, and I also could see Dustin Pedroia being selected and then subsequently replaced since he’s on the DL. But I think the easiest way to go would to select one of the Red Sox relievers whether it is Uehara or Junichi Tazawa. Neither of them exactly have All-Star numbers, but like I said I think that Yost is more likely to go with a deeper bullpen for his team. And the O’Day pick I am going with because he has been one of the best setup men in the game this year (and the last several years), and with the inclusion of more setup men in the All-Star game in recent years, this would be a fine choice.
Snubbed: Huston Street, Will Harris – Street has been great as the Angels closer and Harris has been amazing as more of a middle reliever for the Astros. However, I think that they will both be the victims of the Red Sox needing a representative and the inclusion of O’Day.
Final Man Vote
Eric Hosmer, J.D. Martinez, Logan Forsythe, Alex Rodriguez, Brock Holt
I’ll say that Hosmer gets included on the final man ballot and given the way voting has turned out so far, it would be foolish to say that any of these other guys would beat out Hosmer.