As we head into the week before the All-Star game, we have decided to predict who deserves to make it. This is a bit different than who will make it. There is no fan voting, even for the final spot. There also is no demand to take a player from every team. This is just straight up who is having the best seasons to do date.
Starter: Sal Perez
Reserve: Matt Wieters
Perez is regarded as the hands down best catcher in the American League. Not only does he have the bat, with 12 home runs and a .286 average, he is the best defensive catcher by a long shot. As for Wieters, he is a nice catcher and has power with nine home runs, but also a is second in batting average, and leads all catchers in OBP for batters with 200 at-bats.
Starter: Miguel Cabrera
Reserves: Edwin Encarnacion, Chris Davis
Cabrera has been on fire and has been the shoe in at first base for the past few years. He is essentially in the top five of any hitting statistic possible. His low strikeout rate and high walk rate speak to his knowledge of the strike zone and he uses it to have power and an ability to find grass more than anybody. Davis actually has a higher WAR than Cabrera currently, with a few more home runs in less at-bats. Still, his 32% strikeout rate, and lower average work against him, Only when compared to Cabrera and the like though. Encarnacion leads the league in RBIs and Home runs. He is also top five in walk rate and on base for players qualified at the position.
Starter: Jose Altuve
Reserves: Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia
Altuve is having an unreal season to date. He does not strike out, he is always on base, and he is always running. His WAR of 4.3 is behind only Mike Trout. With the Astros emerging in the playoff hunt, if he can keep it up he may have MVP ability. It is not like Cano is far behind though. Cano has about twenty home runs, and boasts a .302 average. While he is not on the superhuman level of Altuve, he deserves some recognition. This will probably look like a slight to Ian Kinsler, but Pedroia is having a great year. He is hitting over .300, has a better OPS than Kinsler, and strikes out less while walking more. He is the better defender of the two, and while Kinsler has seven more home runs and better accounting stats, Pedroia deserves the edge.
Starter: Xander Bogaerts
Reserves: Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor
The shortstop position is loaded this year, especially when you consider that Manny Machado is playing at short as well. He and Bogaerts are right in the MVP race this year, and while it is close, he gets the edge over Correa and Lindor.
Lindor is having a great year, and could get the consideration as a better defender than any short stop playing right now (Andrelton Simmons on the DL). Lindor also brings a .305 average with 10 home runs and 13 steals making him a duel threat and a problem in every aspect of baseball. With these two bursting out, it is almost like Correa gets lost in how great he has been. The difference between him and the two is the strikeout rate right now. Still, is the group of shorts stops we have been waiting almost a decade for.
Third Base: Manny Machado
Reserve: Josh Donaldson
Machado and Donaldson seem to be having similarly excellent seasons. Machado brings in a .338 average, with the best OPS, weighted on base, and weighted runs created of any third baseman. Donaldson leads third baseman in home runs and in WAR. Machado having to slide over to shortstop and the four game suspension have affected him, but Machado is still having an amazing season.
DH: David Ortiz
Does this even need a write up? Sure Victor Martinez could have been used as a reserve but if you look down you will see Carlos Beltran and no way does Beltran play the field in the All-Star game.
Starters: Mike Trout, Ian Desmond, Mookie Betts
Reserves: George Springer, Jackie Bradley Jr., Mark Trumbo, Carlos Beltran, Nelson Cruz
The starters were easy. Mike Trout, is doing Mike Trout things again, leading the league in WAR. You can argue for Bradley, and maybe even Trumbo to start, but Betts is right there in WAR with Bradley and he just seems to be more of the spark in the lineup. Either way both are easily deserving, and the Red Sox are cleaning up in praise.
Desmond has been an amazing story this season. Going from shortstop to center field and becoming the best player on the first place Rangers. He has 30/30 potential at this point and is hitting .323 while doing. It seems hard to sustain with his crazy .394 BABIP, but you have to recognize it for now.
Springer, like Bradley is becoming the All-Star we all thought he would be. The only thing holding Springer back from being in the Trout conversations is strike outs. Trumbo leads the league in home runs, and how about Beltran in second in home runs among outfielders with a legitimate .300 batting average.
The last spot came down to a few names and was much tougher to fit in than the others. Khris Davis, Adam Eaton, Lorenzo Cain and Kevin Pillar got consideration. At the end of the day Cruz is a primetime hitter. He is top ten among outfielders in home runs, walk rate, OPS, weighted runs created, and WAR.
- Jose Altuve
- Mike Trout
- Xander Bogaerts
- Manny Machado
- Miguel Cabrera
- David Ortiz
- Ian Desmond
- Sal Perez
- Mookie Betts
Starter: Danny Salazar
Reserve Starters: Chris Sale, Steven Wright, Jose Quintana, Masahiro Tanaka, Aaron Sanchez, Jordan Zimmerman, David Price, Corey Kluber, Cole Hamels
Relievers: Zach Britton, Will Harris, Andrew Miller
Many would expect Chris Sale, but Salazar deserves just as much credit. He has the league leading ERA. He was also second in HR/9, and third in K/9. Overall he had the best first half of anyone not named Kershaw. Sale had an amazing first half though. His argument against Salazar would be walks. Salazar walks about four batters per nine, while Sales walks 1.89. Only Corey Kluber has a higher strikeout rate and lower walk rate in the AL.
Wright ranks second in ERA and ninth in WAR. The knuckleballer is legitimate because when he is giving up contact it is soft contact. We will see how he fares in the second half. His teammate David Price ranks eighth in WAR in the AL. He has a 9.97 K/9, and 2.08 BB/9, putting him in a company similar to Sale and Kluber. He has given up a few too many home runs, but that could be expected in Fenway Park.
Kluber leads the league in WAR, FIP, and XFIP. Mainly because he keeps the ball in the park, and he doesn’t walk batters. What a nice combination to have. He also induces a lot of ground balls ranking 12th in the AL, but not quite at a rate that Sanchez does. Sanchez ranks second among qualified pitchers. Of any pitcher in the top ten in ground ball rate, only Cole Hamels has a better K/9 ratio.
Quintana ranks eighth in ERA, but is second in FIP and WAR, ahead of his teammate Sale. That is because his 7% home run to fly ball ratio is third in the league. For perspective, the top four in that statistic are Wright, Zimmerman, Quintana and Salazar, all All-Stars.
Zimmerman makes his name off of statistics like that. Zimmerman is found in the top ten of ground ball rate, home run to fly ball, and BB/9. He misses the least amount of bats as any All-Star but he knows where to put the ball for you to hit it.
Tanaka and Hamels both deserve their nods as well. Tanaka is fourth in the AL in WAR, and 3rd in XIP. He walks about two less batters than Hamels, but Hamels strikes out about two more batters, Hamels is lower than most in WAR, mainly because of his high home run rate. If it does not normalize, expect the Rangers to fall back a bit. Still, you cannot knock the ace of the best team in baseball with a sub-three ERA.
As for the relievers, it was tough to leave Dellin Betances off. Still, it feels Miller is more versatile and brings more overall. Britton gets the nod because at the end of the day saves do matter for something and he does lead the AL in that stat. Will Harris was the shut down eighth inning man in similar fashion to Betances. Now with the closing job and the almighty save at his hand there is hope that he will get a nod in the all-star game.