Yesterday (National League) and today (American League) marked the release of the second and most recent update to Major League Baseball’s All Star Game starting lineup ballots. Since the process began in 2010, the selections by fans of both leagues’ starting lineups for the Midsummer Classic has often turned into popularity contests and which fans go online to vote for their players most often rather than those that actually deserve to start. This year is no different; even with the most recent tallies, there are definitely more than a few snubs in each league. Let’s take a look in each league, position by position, and compare who should be starting as compared to who would be if voting ended today, first with the American League.
Catcher- Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals (.254, 11 HR, 31 RBI, .751 OPS)
I actually don’t mind this pick. Perez has been the one constant offensive threat on a team that really struggled out of the gate this year, and has played in 53 of his team’s 56 games. A case could be made for Baltimore’s Wellington Castillo, who is second in the fan ballot behind Perez, with his awesome slash line (.317/.339/.467), but he’s only played in 29 of team’s 55 games due to injury. Perez’s Gold Glove play behind the plate also separates him from the pack as well.
1st Base: Fans- Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers (.274, 5 HR, 26 RBI, .811 OPS)
SBNY Pick- Yonder Alonso, Oakland Athletics (.303, 16 HR, 34 RBI, 1.075 OPS)
Even with his recent surge, Miguel Cabrera is on pace for one of the worst statistical seasons of his career which, by his standards, would still be a career year for most others. Let’s give the nod to the A’s’ Alonso, who after years struggling to stay healthy in San Diego is finally putting it all together in his second season in the Bay Area. Despite not being a household name, Alonso only trails Miggy by 42,000+ votes on the ballot.
2nd Base: Fans- Jose Altuve, Houston Astros (.326, 8 HR, 28 RBI, .913 OPS)
SBNY Pick- Altuve
This one might be the toughest to call in terms of separating one guy from the other. Altuve and Starlin Castro (.315, 9 HR, 31 RBI, .813 OPS) are 2nd and 3rd in the American League in hits, respectively, and have been the 1 and 1a all season of what is arguably the AL’s deepest position with the likes of Dustin Pedroia, Robinson Cano, and Jason Kipnis. We give the slight nod to Altuve, just because of his torrid hitting and that he’s been the catalyst for the league’s hottest team.
3rd Base: Fans- Miguel Sano, Minnesota Twins (.303, 14 HR, 43 RBI, 1.016 OPS)
SBNY Pick- Sano
Another pick we and the fans agree on. With the way Manny Machado has been struggling over the last month plus, Sano leapfrogged Machado and the Indians’ Jose Ramirez in the voting. While Sano does have to cut down on his strikeouts (3rd in the majors with 78), his overall plate discipline has improved markedly as evidenced by his .410 on base percentage. Not to mention he can hit the ball a mile. Sano is a big reason why the surprising Twins are in the race for the AL Central at 29-24, and if he and the team keep this up, could vault his way up the AL MVP charts.
Shortstop- Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians (.268, 12 HR, 28 RBI, .850 OPS)
SBNY Pick- Carlos Correa, Houston Astros (.310, 11 HR, 39 RBI, .920 OPS)
While Lindor sets the table for the defending AL champs near the top of the order, it is Correa who has been playing at an MVP level for the hottest and perhaps the best team in baseball in the Astros. Correa leads all shortstops with his 39 RBIs and is second to the Reds’ Zack Cozart with his .920 OPS. Jean Segura, who is 5th on the ballot, should be getting way more love with his AL-leading .341 average, and don’t forget about Didi Gregorius Xander Boegarts (3rd and 4th, respectively), both of whom are also batting over .300. Throw in a guy who didn’t even make the ballot in Elvis Andrus (.305, 7 HR, 32 RBI, 14 SB) that is having a career year, and you have perhaps the deepest position and toughest to decide in baseball.
Designated Hitter- Nelson Cruz, Seattle Mariners (.297, 14 HR, 45 RBI, .943 OPS)
SBNY Pick- Corey Dickerson, Tampa Bay Rays (.336, 13 HR, 26 RBI, .979 OPS)
This one might come a bit out of left field for the casual baseball fan, but those that follow the AL East know that Corey Dickerson has been a big part of why the Rays are second in all of baseball with their 88 home runs as a team. Don’t let the 26 RBI fool you, as Dickerson has been crushing balls while setting the tone for Tampa Bay leading off, while proving he can hit outside Coors Field after he was traded by the Rockies in the Jake McGee deal a couple years ago. The .336 seems unsustainable, but why not reward the guy for what he’s been doing all season up to this point?
Outfield- Mike Trout (Los Angeles Angels), Aaron Judge (New York Yankees), Michael Brantley (Cleveland Indians)
SBNY Picks- Judge, Avisail Garcia (Chicago White Sox), Brett Gardner (Yankees)
SBNY Pick- With the league’s best player and face of the game in Trout sidelined through August at the earliest, it’s no surprise that the phenomenal Yankees rookie stands alone at the top of the AL outfielder leaderboard. You can make a solid case for at least six guys for the other two outfield spots, but Avisail Garcia and Brett Gardner stand out to me. Garcia ranks in the top 10 in the AL in batting average (.330, good for 4th), RBI (38), slugging (.532), and OPS (.902) despite being on a struggling White Sox team. For Gardner, after batting .188 in May and not recording a single RBI, he has found his way to a solid .269/.355/.518 line with 12 homers while leading off for the potent Yankees offense. Judge and Gardner have played a huge role in the Yankees’ excellent start at 32-22, and should be rewarded as such.