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: Buster Posey
Backups: Wilson Ramos, Jonathan Lucroy
This one breaks pretty much without debate. These are the top three catchers in the National League, and Posey is just a small cut above. Posey leads the NL in WAR at 2.5, barely edging Ramos and Lucroy at 2.4 and 2.2 respectively. What sets Posey apart from the two is his defense. The three sit in a tier of their own over the rest of the NL catchers for the time being.
Starter: Paul Goldschmidt
Backups: Wil Myers, Anthony RIzzo
It was tough not to name Meyers as the starter for how hot he has been. The big difference here came down to Goldschmidt’s ability to take walks and get on-base at a much higher rate. Rizzo has just as strong of a case, however. Rizzo has a slightly lower walk rate, but he strikes out only 13% of the time compared to Goldschmidt who is whiffing 22-percent of the time currently. The case for Goldschmidt against Rizzo is that he has 10 steals to compare to Rizzo who only has two. Goldschmidt is a bit of the best of both worlds when it comes to the play of Rizzo and Myers. Brandon Belt is having a huge year hitting .297, and Freddie Freeman may have a small gripe, but neither are on the pace that these three are in 2016.
Starter: Daniel Murphy
Backup: Ben Zobrist
Murphy is the hands down starter here for what he has done this year. He took his run in the World Series and ran into being one of the most consistent players in baseball. Murphy is hitting an unsustainable .352 this season. He is also only striking out 10% of the time, which is the second lowest of any NL second baseman. His BABIP and walk rate point to regression, but he already tied his career high with 14 home runs in a season. Even if his average did fall off around .300 by the end of the year he will be the best second baseman in the NL.
It almost takes away from the great season that Zobrist is having. Zobrist and Murphy are the only second baseman with a WAR over 2, Zobrist at 2.9 and Murphy at 3.8. He is having his best offensive season since 2011, and has added exceptional defense to boot.
Starter: Nolan Arenado
Backups: Kris Bryant, Matt Carpenter, Jake Lamb
The debate at third base would be between Bryant and Arenado and who should be the starter. Bryant has the higher WAR, but most other statistics would point to Arenado having the better season to date. The biggest difference here would be the strikeout rate. Arenado is striking out just 12% of the time compared to Bryant who will K 23% of the time. In the AL stadium, Bryant can serve as the DH. Carpenter will make the team with the majority of his at-bats being at third base this season and will be listed as a third basemen. However, when compared to the second baseman he is closer to Murphy than Zobrist is at being the best in the NL. Carpenter being technically a second baseman opens the doors for Lamb. Lamb has been punishing the ball recently, and is up to 18 home runs with a .288 average. He leads the four in slugging percentage to date, but his strikeout rate and BABIP suggest some of this to slow down over the second half of the season.
Starter: Corey Seager
Backup: Brandon Crawford
Seager makes the squad for the first time in what feels like will be a ten plus year lock into the slot. Seager is only 22 years old. In his rookie season he is hitting .302 with 17 home runs, and it all looks legitimate. His defense is above average, and there is no arguments over who the best shortstop in the NL.
In terms of hitting production, you could argue that Trevor Story or Aledmys Diaz have had a better start to the year. However, in terms of defensive production, neither is in Crawford’s sight. Crawford does walk more than Diaz and strike out less than Story as well. Crawford holds a 3.2 WAR, compared to Diaz at 1.9 and Story at 1.7. Factoring all of that in makes Crawford the no brainer backup at the position.
Starters: Bryce Harper, Gregory Polanco, Marcell Ozuna
Bench: Starling Marte, Ryan Braun, Carlos Gonzalez, Odubel Herrera, Yoenis Cespedes
Aside from Harper, it feels like about ten players could be named a starter. Harper is an obvious candidate, and while he is not putting up MVP numbers, his 20% walk rate speaks to his impact on baseball games. With Polanco you are adding a well-rounded player. Polanco is one of the better defensive outfielders in the game and brings a .294 average with an .880 OPS. He is also on pace for a 20/20 season. Ozuna has not been running, but is on pace for over 36 home runs. Ozone leads all NL outfielders in WAR, is second in slugging percentage and has been an above average defensive out fielder.
Cespedes, Braun and Gonzalez get the nod as reserve outfielders mainly due to their power production. Marte and Herrera make it on speed and defense. Marte also ranks in the top ten in weighted runs created, and Herrera ranks 11th. Of course, Cespedes ranks first, Gonzalez ranks fourth and Braun ranks third in WRC. The five reserves all also rank in the top ten in batting average. Dexter Fowler and Christian Yelich are the big snubs here. Fowler is fourth in WAR, but most of it is accredited to a fast start, and he has been regressing back to normal in the past few weeks. For Yelich, he profiles similarly to Marte and Herrera. Marte has a higher slash line, WAR, and stole 17 more bases than Yelich. Herrera has more home runs, more steals, and has better K% and BB%.
- Gregory Polanco
- Bryce Harper
- Paul Goldschmidt
- Nolan Arenado
- Kris Bryant (DH)
- Marcell Ozuna
- Daniel Murphy
- Buster Posey
- Corey Seager
Starter: Clayton Kershaw
Starters reserves: Noah Syndergaard, Jose Fernandez, Johnny Cueto, Madison Bumgarner, Jake Arrieta, Max Scherzer, Jon Lester, Jake DeGrom
Relievers: Kenley Jansen, Jeurys Familia, Mark Melancon, Seung Oh
The pitching was not too hard to fill. Kershaw is the best pitcher on earth and if healthy will start in the All-Star game. Syndergaard has had a monster start to his season, and while he is beginning to fade off still ranks second among pitcher in WAR. Fernandez is striking out an absurd 13.2 batters per nine innings, and Scherzer is whiffing 11 per nine. Lester, Arrieta and Bumgarner rank second through fourth in ERA respectively. Cueto ranks second in home runs per nine, and ranks fourth in walks per nine. Right behind Cueto is DeGrom, who is ninth in home runs per nine, but ranks third in walks per nine. DeGrom ranks 10th in WAR, only behind Zack Greinke and Stephen Strasburg as pitchers to not make the list. DeGrom gives up less walks than Strasberg, and strikes out more than Greinke. Add in a slow start to the season for Greinke, and an injury to Strasberg and DeGrom is worthy.
Kenley Jansen’s leads all closers in WAR. Familia leads all closers in saves. Melancon has been as consistent as they come, but somehow not as consistent as Oh. Oh has made the case to be the best reliever in the game in his first American season. He ranks second in WAR, and just took the closer job from Trevor Rosenthal.