Assessing the AL & NL All-Star Rosters

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Photo: Allen Henry, USA Today Sports

With the All-Star game voting underway, get ready to hear Omar Infante’s name in the news. Yep, Royals fans are once again stuffing the ballot box, which means Infante-who is 27th in WAR among second basemen-is second behind Jose Altuve in the American League All-Star vote so far. Over in the National League, Cubs fans seem to be doing the same thing now as well.

Since fan voting has clearly gotten out of hand, it’s getting harder to identify players who are actually having All-Star seasons. But luckily, you have me to distinguish the real All-Stars for you. Without further ado, here’s what I think the All-Star voting ballots should look like, as of early June. I’ll start with the National League, where the errors are more egregious. (Starters in Bold)


National League

Catchers

Current Ballot

1. Yadier Molina, STL   2. Buster Posey, SF   3. Miguel Montero, CHC

My Ballot

1. Buster Posey, SF   2. Jonathan Lucroy, MIL   3. Yadier Molina, STL

Molina has had a pedestrian year. That’s why either Posey (1.4 WAR) or Lucroy (2.2 WAR) should start. Even though Lucroy has the higher WAR, I’ll give the edge to Posey because he’s been a tad better defensively and he has the pedigree.

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Photo: Joe Camporeale, USA Today Sports

First Basemen

Current Ballot

1. Anthony Rizzo, CHC   2. Brandon Belt, SF   3. Adrian Gonzalez, LAD

My Ballot

1. Paul Goldschmidt, ARZ   2. Brandon Belt, SF   3. Anthony Rizzo, CHC

How is Goldschmidt not in contention to start at first base? Even though he’s having a down year by his standards, he still leads all NL first basemen in WAR. I’ll admit that there’s a good case for Brandon Belt (159 weighted runs created, explanation here) and even Anthony Rizzo (.508 SLG). But if Goldschmidt doesn’t at least make the final roster it’s a travesty.

Second Basemen

Current Ballot

1. Ben Zobrist, CHC   2. Daniel Murphy, WSH   3. Neil Walker, NYM

My Ballot

1. Daniel Murphy, WSH   2. Ben Zobrist, CHC   3. Neil Walker, NYM

Sorry Cubs fans. Zobrist has the slightly higher WAR (2.8 vs 2.6), but I think Murphy should start, if the All-Star game were today, because he’s leading all of baseball in hitting with a .379 average.

Third Basemen

Current Ballot

1. Kris Bryant, CHC   2. Nolan Arenado, COL   3. David Wright, NYM

My Ballot

1. Kris Bryant, CHC   2. Nolan Arenado, COL   3. Matt Carpenter, STL

I initially thought I was going to have a problem with Arenado being slotted behind Bryant because Arenado is one of the best two-way players in the game. But the 24-year old Bryant has been better offensively (10.8 offensive runs created vs 7.5 for Arenado) and just as good defensively (5.6 runs saved defensively vs 6.8 for Arenado). Slight edge to Chicago’s emerging superstar.

Shorstop

Current Ballot

1. Addison Russell, CHC   2. Trevor Story, COL   3. Asdrubal Cabrera, NYM

My Ballot

1. Corey Seager, LAD   2. Brandon Crawford, SF   3. Jonathan Villar, MIL

The fans have this one horribly wrong. None of the three guys in the top three on the current ballot are All-Star worthy. Just look at the leaderboard for WAR among NL shortstops and you’ll agree with me. Based on the WAR leaders as well as a few other stats like offensive runs above average, defensive runs above average, home runs, and slugging, Dodgers SS Corey Seager is the obvious choice to start for the NL. He does have some competition behind him though if he were to slip. Crawford has been sensational defensively for the Giants and Villar leads all NL shortstops with 20 stolen bases and a .313 batting average for Milwaukee.

Outfielders

Current Ballot

1. Bryce Harper, WSH   2. Dexter Fowler, CHC   3. Yoenis Cespedes, NYM

4. Jason Heyward, CHC   5. Ryan Braun, MIL   6. Jorge Soler, CHC

My Ballot

1. Dexter Fowler, CHC   2. Gregory Polanco, PIT   3. Marcell Ozuna, MIA

4. Bryce Harper, WSH   5. Starling Marte, PIT   6. Yoenis Cespedes, NYM

Let me be clear: Bryce Harper (2.2 WAR) should not be the leading vote-getter among NL outfielders. Compared to Dexter Fowler (3.3 WAR), Harper falls short in nearly every category: offensive runs created, defensive runs saved, weighted runs created, batting average, slugging, etc. Even unheralded guys like Polanco (2.5 WAR) and Ozuna (2.4 WAR) have been superior in many respects. Granted, by the time the All-Star voting ends, I expect Harper to surpass Polanco and Ozuna at the very least: Harper’s batting average on balls in play is only .224, which, based on his career BABIP, indicates that he’s been unlucky this year. However, as of now, Harper should not be starting for the NL.

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Photo: Getty Images

Starting Pitcher

My Ballot

1. Clayton Kershaw, LAD   2. Jake Arrieta, CHC   3. Noah Syndergaard, NYM

Note- pitchers aren’t voted on by the fans. But I figured I’d share my thoughts on who I think the starting pitchers should be anyways.

Kershaw is clear the choice to start the All-Star game for the NL. He leads NL pitchers in WAR by a mile and he also holds sizable edges in FIP, ERA, strikeouts, and K/BB%. Even with pitchers like Arrieta, Syndergaard, Johnny Cueto, and Madison Bumgarner having Cy Young caliber seasons, Kershaw stands head and shoulders above them all.


American League

Catchers

Current Ballot

1. Salvador Perez, KC   2. Brian McCann, NYY   3. Matt Wieters, BAL

My Ballot

1. Salvador Perez, KC   2. Matt Wieters, BAL   3. Stephen Vogt, OAK

Perez is clearly the best catcher in the AL. He has a sizable lead in WAR, offensive runs above average (OFF), and defensive runs above average (DEF). Royals fans have this one right.

First Basemen

Current Ballot

1. Eric Hosmer, KC   2. Miguel Cabrera, DET   3. Chris Davis, BAL

My Ballot

1. Miguel Cabrera, DET   2. Eric Hosmer, KC   3. Joe Mauer, MIN

Hosmer (.327 BA/.382 OBP/.541 SLG) is having a very good year, but I’m giving Cabrera (.310/.387/.547) the slight edge because his offensive stats are just as good as Hosmer’s and he has the higher WAR (1.7 vs 1.1).

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Photo: Troy Taormina, USA Today Sports

Second Basemen

Current Ballot

1. Jose Altuve, HOU   2. Omar Infante, KC   3. Robinson Cano, SEA

My Ballot

1. Jose Altuve, HOU   2. Robinson Cano, SEA   3. Dustin Pedroia, BOS

Well, we know Infante doesn’t belong here. In time, hopefully Cano (2.6 WAR) and Pedroia (2.1 WAR) will surpass him because both players, particularly Cano, are having great offensive seasons. But neither are as deserving of the starting nod as Altuve (3.0 WAR), who has one of the top batting averages in baseball.

Third Basemen 

Current Ballot

1. Manny Machado, BAL   2. Mike Moustakas, KC   3. Josh Donaldson, TOR

My Ballot

1. Manny Machado, BAL   2. Kyle Seager, SEA   3. Josh Donaldson, TOR

Barring injury, Machado will be the starting third basemen in San Diego July 12th. And speaking of injuries, Moustakas should be ineligible for voting because he recently tore his ACL. That leaves Seattle’s Kyle Seager and the reigning AL MVP Josh Donaldson fighting for a spot on the roster. I give the slight edge to Seager right now because he currently owns a superior batting average, OBP, and slugging percentage.

Shortstop

Current Ballot

1. Xander Bogaerts, BOS   2. Alcides Escobar, KC   3. Troy Tulowitzki, TOR

My Ballot

1. Xander Bogaerts, BOS   2. Francisco Lindor, CLE   3. Eduardo Nunez, MIN

Bogaerts, who recently had a 26-game hitting streak end, has definitely been the best shortstop in the AL. But after that, my ballot deviates completely from the current fan ballot. Escobar is merely 14th among AL shortstops in WAR and Tulowitzki is only batting .204. That’s why it’s a shame that one shortstop, in particular, is getting slighted: Indians SS Francisco Lindor is batting .300 and is 2nd in WAR among AL shortstops behind Bogaerts. He’s also second in DEF as well. In short, Lindor isn’t a household name, but he has a case to be an All-Star.

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Photo: Getty Images

Designated Hitter

Current Ballot

1. David Ortiz, BOS

My Ballot

1. David Ortiz, BOS

I don’t really need to explain this one, right?

Outfielders

Current Ballot

1. Mike Trout, LAA   2. Lorenzo Cain, KC   3. Mark Trumbo, BAL

4. Jackie Bradley Jr, BOS   5. Jose Bautista, TOR   6. Alex Gordon, KC

My Ballot

1. Mike Trout, LAA   2. Mookie Betts, BOS   3. Jackie Bradley Jr, BOS

4. Mark Trumbo, BAL   5. George Springer, HOU   6. Ian Desmond, TEX

Trout’s WAR of 3.6 solidifies him as the best outfielder, if not the best player, in baseball. The other two Kansas City outfielders in contention, however, are overrated. Cain is having a solid year, but he’s only 11th among AL outfielders in WAR and 18th in wRC+ (which stands for weighted Runs Created). Gordon, meanwhile, is not really up for discussion because he’s 34th in WAR and is batting .211.

The outfielders that should be in the starting lineup both play for Boston. Both Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. are having outstanding years at the plate and in the field. If one of the two were to slip, Trumbo, who has 17 home runs, and Springer, whose wRC+ is 145, are two other legitimate candidates to start.

Starting Pitcher

My Ballot

1. Jose Quintana, CHW   2. Chris Sale, CHW   3. Rich Hill, OAK

Sale is certainly the popular pick and if I had to put my money on it, he’d be my bet to start the game come July. But I said it a few weeks ago and I’ll say it again: Quintana has been just as good, if not better. Yes, he’s only 5-5; but the more advanced metrics show that Quintana has a lower ERA, a lower FIP, and a higher WAR. That’s why he should be starting if the All-Star game were today-not Sale.

Posted by Mando

Co-Founder of Check Down Sports. Die-hard Boston sports fan: Patriots, Celtics, Bruins- in that order. I haven't been that interested in the Red Sox since they traded Manny. If you're a fan of Leslie Nielson movies and/or think Entourage is overrated, we'll get along.

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