The All-Star break is fast approaching. Voting updates have been met with a chorus of anger/joy (delete as applicable), and the teams are beginning to become clear. Well, the starters are at least.
Below you can find a few thoughts on each position, along with the first and second choice ‘votes’ from us for the American League. It’s not quite how they make up the actual All-Star teams, but it’s easier/better like this…
|Ramos, Sanchez||Ramos, Romine||Ramos||Ramos, Sanchez|
Wilson Ramos deservedly features in all our votes. The Tampa Bay Rays catcher is hitting for average (.291) with power (12 homers) and has already reached 1.8 WAR according to Baseball Reference.
The second spot is harder to call. The American League has a real weakness behind the plate, meaning Gary Sanchez will likely get the spot, though Austin Romine‘s excellent defence gets a nod from Joe. Rough seasons offensively ruled out Salvador Perez and Brian McCann.
|Abreu, Olson||Abreu, Cabrera||Abreu||Abreu, Moreland|
Jose Abreu is a lock to start at first. The Cuban has a case to be the most underrated player in the sport, despite a relative down year by his lofty standards.
Matt Olson‘s power and Mitch Moreland‘s Gold Glove defence and high average get recognition, while Yuli Gurriel misses out. Gurriel is second on the public vote at the time of writing and has a decent claim to make the roster.
|Altuve, Merrifield||Altuve, Lowrie||Altuve||Altuve, Gordon|
To the surprise of literally no one on the planet, Jose Altuve will start the All-Star game at second. The reigning MVP is heading for another monster season.
Picking a backup isn’t easy. Second is a weak position around the majors right now. Whit Merrifield‘s combination of speed and a .360 on-base percentage is fun, as was Jed Lowrie‘s flying start to the season. Gleyber Torres might have the best claim of them all, though.
|Lindor, Machado||Machado, Lindor||Machado||Correa, Machado|
Francisco Lindor and Manny Machado are having massive seasons. Lindor has reached 5.2 WAR, and Machado is on course to hit 40 dingers. It’s hard to argue with that, but Carlos Correa is hardly a slouch either.
|Ramirez, Bregman||Ramirez, Bregman||Ramirez||Ramirez, Bregman|
Jose Ramirez and Alex Bregman clear up here. The pair lead the fan vote, too, and it’s well deserved. Ramirez was a genuine MVP contender last year, and would be in the discussion again if Mike Trout wasn’t being Mike Trout.
Bregman has taken another step forward. His exceptional defence is complemented by good average and plenty of power. There’s barely a case to be made for anyone else, though Miguel Andujar is getting plenty of votes from fans.
|Trout, Betts, Judge, Haniger, Castellanos, Brantley||Trout, Betts, Judge, Rosario, Haniger, Mazara||Trout, Betts, Judge||Betts, Trout, Springer, Judge, Benintendi, Brantley|
The first three pick themselves. Mike Trout is on course for one of the best seasons ever, Aaron Judge has answered any doubts about the difficult second album and Mookie Betts is on his way to a 30-30 season.
The depth in the American League outfield makes this a fascinating debate, however. The power of Mitch Haniger and contact hitting of Michael Brantley get a couple of votes from us, despite Haniger sitting way down on the fan vote.
George Springer – who is having a good, not great season – is fourth in the fan vote, but was only selected by Greg. The talented young duo of Andrew Benintendi and Nomar Mazara get picked once each as well. Mazara didn’t get much fan love, but is having a solid season, just like Eddie Rosario and Nick Castellanos.
|Martinez, Cruz||Martinez, Choo||Martinez||Martinez, Stanton|
Life as a designated hitter seems to suit J.D. Martinez. Boston’s slugger is well on course to hit 50 homers this season, partnered with an OBP that could be up at .400 within a couple of weeks.
The red-hot Shin-Soo Choo is having a superb year, and even has a better OBP than Martinez. Nelson Cruz is hitting for huge power numbers once again with an OPS+ of 156. Reigning National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton is crushing the ball frequently, though he isn’t producing the same stellar numbers as last year. There’s little to pick between the three.