The second phase of MLB All-Star voting begins at 5pm BST on Thursday. Each position has three candidates for this 28-hour round which will decide the starters at Cleveland’s Progressive Field for the midseason classic.
Fan voting isn’t the perfect way to elect All-Star teams, but it’s not the be all and end all, as players can still make the All-Star roster after this through player balloting and the commissioner’s office.
Starting the game, though, is a special honour. These three players deserve that chance for their performances this season…
Few players have broken out like Ketel Marte has this season. The Diamondbacks utility man has already hit six more home runs than he has in any other season in his career. His previous best of 14 was passed weeks ago.
Hitting for a career-best average and slugging at a level nowhere near his previous career numbers, Marte has tweaked his swing and is reaping the rewards.
It’s not just some hot streak, this is the outcome of changes made and Marte is seeing the results in his expected numbers. He ranks in the top 8% in expected batting average and expected slugging while remaining one of the quickest players in baseball.
Facing Mike Moustakas (who would be nearly as deserving) and Ozzie Albies, Marte is up against it in the voting. The Braves support comes out in force, and unfortunately Albies may well take the starting berth ahead of the Diamondbacks switch-hitter.
Much like with Marte, no one saw this coming from Pence. He struggled mightily in his final two years with the Giants, but instead of retiring like many would after such a hefty contract, he put in an immense amount of work over the winter to change his swing.
The Texas Rangers took a chance on the two-time World Series winner, and he’s set to return to the All-Star game for the first time since 2014.
Pence’s OPS of .962 is comfortably better than both Cruz and Martinez. His exit velocity is in the 94th percentile, his sprint speed is elite and there’s no doubt he remains a fan favourite.
His popularity around the league might earn Pence the starting berth. The support of the Red Sox and Pence’s recent injury make it unlikely, though.
At the start of year, it would have been a bit of a surprise to see two Texas Rangers hitters on this list, but just like Pence, Joey Gallo deserves a spot as a starter in the All-Star game.
A left oblique strain kept Gallo out of action for a short while. His recent return might help him in the voting, but the American League outfield spots are fiercely competitive. With Mike Trout a lock, there are basically two open spots. Aaron Judge and Mookie Betts would be the obvious choices on reputation; neither are deserving of a starting berth this year.
Gallo warrants one of those two spots (with George Springer taking the other). Gallo’s video-game power makes him a well-known figure for baseball fans – winning enough votes ahead of Yankees and Red Sox stars is still a big ask.
The biggest thing with Gallo in 2019 has been how he’s paired his pop and brilliant eye with improved contact skills. His batting average his 70 points higher than any other year and his walk rate is nearly 20%. Playing all three outfield spots, the 2012 first-round pick is playing solid defence, too.
His place in the All-Star game is guaranteed – hopefully the fans give him the starting spot he’s earned.