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 National League fan voting isn’t as odd as the American League, as the fans are getting most of the situations right. 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 – Buster Posey, Derek Norris, Yasmani Grandal
Posey is the current leader at NL catcher and he should hold on to the lead, and he also has been the best catcher in the NL so far. Norris, who took over as the Padres starting catcher with Grandal being traded up north to LA, has been having a nice offensive season as well as being the third best catcher by DEF ratings. So I think that he should be heading to the All-Star Game, as should Grandal who has been pummeling pitching at times this season. However, I could imagine a situation where Giants/NL manager Bruce Bochy opts to leave off the division rival Grandal and his poor defense in favor of someone like Francisco Cervelli who is having a decent year at the plate, but with much better defense.
First Basemen – Paul Goldschmidt, Anthony Rizzo, Joey Votto
Goldschmidt is running away with the first basemen vote as it should be. He is one of the top three hitters in the league and is just having a monstrous season. There’s no way that A to the Rizzo won’t be seeing the All-Star festivities with the tremendous year that he is having, so he should get the player vote. But here’s where it gets a little tricky with Votto versus Adrian Gonzalez. They have similar offensive production, but Gonzalez is the one who made a lot of noise early on in the season. But since the All-Star Game is being played in Cincinnati where Votto plays his home games and Gonzalez is on Bochy’s division rival Dodgers squad, I think that Votto will make it in over Gonzalez.
Snubbed: Adrian Gonzalez – See above
Second Basemen – Dee Gordon, Kolten Wong, D.J. LeMahieu
Gordon currently holds a decent sized lead over Wong for the starting second base role and there are no complaints with that. Gordon and his speed have been a tremendous asset for the Marlins and he’s been hitting well all season long. Wong though should also make the team himself with the type of year that he is having, and I’m guessing that he would be the players’ pick. LeMahieu and his gold glove defense has also been showing it with the lumber this season and should be included as an All-Star, but I can foresee a situation in which he is left off in favor of another third baseman (see below).
Snubbed: None – Brandon Phillips and Joe Panik have had very nice seasons, and while I don’t think they should be selected, I could see situations where they are — Phillips because the game is in his home team’s city and Panik because the All-Star manager is his own manager. But if neither were to make the team, I would hardly call them snubbed.
Third Basemen – Todd Frazier, Nolan Arenado
Matt Carpenter is currently leading the third basemen vote over Frazier, but barely. Both the Cardinals and Reds are playing at home this week, which will help both their causes, but I think that ultimately Frazier and his HR spree will prevail to leave Carpenter off the squad completely. Then there is Arenado who is right on Frazier’s tail in HR, but has been more amazing at driving in runs. Arenado should be voted in by the players.
Snubbed: Justin Turner, Kris Bryant – Turner is very deserving of being an All-Star and I feel that he should be over a couple of other infielders that I’m listing as predicted All-Stars. But I think that it is slim that he gets selected to the team by either the players or Bochy, especially since Turner is a Dodger and there’s the whole Dodgers/Giants rivalry thing. Bryant could also be an All-Star and lots of people would sure want to see him be at the festivities.
Shortstops – Jhonny Peralta, Troy Tulowtizki, Brandon Crawford
Peralta should easily hold on to the shortstop voting lead given what the voting is currently at, and there is no problem with him being the starting NL shortstop with the way that he’s been hitting for the Cardinals. Tulowitzki probably has slightly better overall stats than Peralta and should be the players choice for shortstop. Crawford is a borderline All-Star with the power surge that he has had this year, but I think that Bochy is going to show his bias toward his own player here and select him for the team over guys like Bryant and Turner.
Outfielders – Bryce Harper, Giancarlo Stanton, Matt Holliday, Joc Pederson, Starling Marte, Ryan Braun, ***Justin Upton
Harper and Stanton are shoe ins to be named All-Star starters, but the third spot is up in the air. The spot is currently held by Holliday with Nori Aoki close behind him, and then Andrew McCutchen a little further behind. It’s possible that McCutchen leap frogs both of them since both Holliday and Aoki have been on the DL for a bit now, but with the Cardinals playing at home up until the voting is closed (Aoki and McCutchen are on the road), I think that will sway in Holliday’s favor to be voted in despite him not having played the last three weeks and the likelihood that he wouldn’t participate in the All-Star Game. This would presumably leave three outfielders to be picked. One of those will be the leader of the player vote and I think that it will be Pederson because of the highlight reels he has compiled both with his booming home runs and his amazing defensive plays. Then the next two spots could go any which way, but I’ll go with Marte who is deserving with his breakthrough season and great blend of hitting/power/speed/defense, and then I am going to say that Braun gets on the squad as the Brewers lone representative. However, Stanton will need to be immediately replaced on the roster due to his injury, so I think that gives Upton the chance to make the team as an injury replacement.
Snubbed: A.J. Pollock, Charlie Blackmon – Should Holliday be voted in and need to be replaced, Pollock in my mind would be the selection, but I don’t think he makes the initial roster. Blackmon is the only player in the league at the moment with 10 HR and 20 SB, but there’s just a lot of good NL outfielders.
Starting Pitchers – Max Scherzer, Gerrit Cole, Zack Greinke, Madison Bumgarner, Clayton Kershaw, Shelby Miller, Jacob deGrom, Michael Wacha
The pitching situation for the NL is way more competitive than the AL. We have the obvious choices in Scherzer, Cole, Greinke, and Bumgarner. But after that it gets a bit complicated. Kershaw hasn’t been as sharp this season currently with a losing record and an ERA over 3.00, but he does lead the Majors in strikeouts at the moment, which would be reason enough to validate his All-Star selection. Miller has been brilliant in the first half for the Braves and he is the best choice from the Braves to send to the All-Star Game, so it will be hard to leave him off. DeGrom has just been so dominant since mid-May spanning 8 starts that he would seem like a near lock to be selected. So that would probably leave one more spot for a starting pitcher, and though Wacha wasn’t getting lots of strikeouts early in the season, he was helping his team win a lot of ballgames and everyone was recognizing it. So I think that he has the edge over the following players listed below as snubs.
Snubbed: Jake Arrieta, Carlos Martinez, Matt Harvey, Johnny Cueto, A.J. Burnett – Out of these pitchers, I would say that Arrieta is the most deserving of being an All-Star with Martinez next. Harvey just hasn’t been doing well enough lately to make his way on to the roster, Cueto’s win-loss record is unimpressive, and Burnett lacks the flash and appeal. But any of these guys should be given consideration for the team.
Relief Pitchers – Jeurys Famila, Trevor Rosenthal, Drew Storen, Aroldis Chapman, Jonathan Papelbon
Familia and Rosenthal have been the most reliable and well-rounded relief pitchers in the National League, so it would not be an All-Star team without them. Storen is also having a really good season closing games out for the first place Nationals. Chapman isn’t as dominant as years past so far this season, but he’s still racking up strikeouts like crazy and has only blown one save. With the game being played in his home park and Bochy probably liking the idea of having a left-handed fireballing pitcher available late in the game, I will say that Chapman makes the team. Then there is a player who I am going to say makes it on as their team’s lone representative. Papelbon is having another nice season having yet to blow a save for the Phillies, and with Cole Hamels not having as great of ERA and WHIP numbers as some of his NL counterparts who I’m predicting to be left off the team, I think that Papelbon makes his way on to the roster.
Snubbed: Mark Melancon – Melancon is enjoying another fine season despite a loss in velocity, so he could also find his way on the team, but there are just other options that have more dominance and also the fact that each team needs to be represented. Also, I wouldn’t call them snubs at all if they don’t make the team, but Francisco Rodriguez and Will Smith could possibly be selected over Braun as the Brewers lone representative.
Final Man Vote
If the final man ballot consists of pitchers then:
Carlos Martinez, Jake Arrieta, Johnny Cueto, Matt Harvey, A.J. Burnett
And I would say that Martinez would win the vote because the Cardinals have a strong fan base and always vote well for their players.
If the final man ballot consists of hitters then:
Kris Bryant, Justin Turner, Charlie Blackmon, A.J. Pollock, Joe Panik
And i would say that Bryant would be the one voted in because of the hype surrounding him and people wanting to see him be selected for the home run derby.