By Andrew Parks
A Breakdown of the AL All-Star Team
***Late addendum to this article… Blake Snell and Charlie Morton have been added to the AL All Star team replacing Corey Kluber and Aroldis Chapman. Both of these pitchers have been pulled from the team due to lack of availability.***
Keeping in mind that the MLB All-Star game should be a combination of players who had great first halves coupled with perennial all-stars and a legend or two who might be winding up his career, while representing every team, this year’s all-star roster choices aren’t too bad. However, there is one glaring travesty that I simply can’t excuse MLB for and that’s why on Earth is Blake Snell not on this team? Most of it lies on how the teams are picked now. Let me explain…
I’ve always liked MLB’s idea to allow the fans to pick who they want to see start. That’s step one. After that the players who also voted on eight position players, five starting pitchers and three relievers fill in the next slots. If the players voted on someone the fans voted in, then the spot goes to the players’ second place vote getter. After that the Commissioner’s office picks the final spots. That leaves four position players in the NL and two in the AL (DH’s are chosen by the players), plus four pitchers in each league for the commissioner’s office to fill in while making sure every team is represented. Finally, a final fan vote occurs for the 34th spot on each team.
However, as with every year, there are always guys who were snubbed. With so many pieces that need to be fulfilled, there’s bound to be someone that slips through the cracks. The following is my thoughts on the rosters and to which picks I give thumbs up or thumbs down.
The Fans’ Picks
C – Wilson Ramos, Tampa – .291, 14 HR, 51 RBI puts him as the obvious front runner. With only one other every day catcher who qualifies, the position was slim pickin’s. Thumbs Up.
1b – Jose Abreu, Chicago – .253, 12, 51 seems pedestrian for an All-Star first baseman but once again, this is a position that doesn’t offer any slam dunks. Abreu is sixth in OPS behind Smoak (Tor), Cron (TB), Olson (Oak), Gurriel (Hou) and Alonso (Clev), but none jump off the page. He’s fourth in average, sixth in OBP, and seventh in slugging. I suppose one could make a case for Smoak, Olson or even Alonso, but I’m not terribly upset by this choice. Heck, he was my vote for AL First Baseman. Thumbs Up
2b – Jose Altuve, Houston – .333, 9, 44, 14 SB. It’s really only between Jed Lowrie (Oak) and him with Whitt Merrifeld in a distant third. Lowrie could easily be the starter with his break-out first half, but this is Altuve’s domain in the AL. Thumbs Up
3b – Jose Ramirez, Cleveland – .293, 27, 65, 19 SB, .392 OBP, .609 SLG. This is Ramirez’s position for anyone to overtake him. He had a break out season last year, and this year he’s on his way to a monster season with a chance to become the fifth 40-40 player in MLB history. Thumbs Up
SS – Manny Machado, Baltimore – .314, 23, 63, .957 OPS is impressive for a shortstop. His one rival is Francisco Lindor who is close with .295, 25, 65, .941, but Manny plays on an abysmal team. His numbers are impressive, but his defense has been shockingly poor – historically poor at the position. Lindor has been a former Platinum Glove winner at SS while Machado won his at 3b. Machado has also had lapses on the base paths, loafing on double plays and getting thrown out. It’s extremely close, but Lindor’s better defense, attitude for the game and always heady play put him slightly ahead for me. Thumbs Down but I’m not married to it.
OF – Mookie Betts, Boston – .350, 24, 44, 16 SB, .650 SLG, 1.114 OPS. What a season this young man is putting together. Slam Dunk. Thumbs Up.
OF – Mike Trout, Los Angeles – .314, 25, 50, 16 SB says the game’s best player. Easily a starter. Thumbs Up.
OF – Aaron Judge, New York – .281, 25, 60 is an amazing stat line for a guy who’s struck out 125 times already. Even though he’s swung and missed so much, he’s still third in OPS for outfielders. Impressive. Thumbs Up.
DH – JD Martinez, Boston – .330, 28 HR, 78 RBI is truly a phenomenal first half. Martinez has really blossomed the last two years into a mega-star. Thumbs Up.
American League Reserves
C – Salvie Perez, Kansas City – .217, 12 , 38. He’s really the only other every day catcher who qualifies. He’s a stud but has been slowed by injuries. Thumbs Up.
1b – Mitch Moreland, Boston – .282, 11, 45, .354 OBP, .510 SLG. Moreland has had a good year but he doesn’t even qualify for the batting title. As we’ve already discussed, there are a multitude of first basemen who could have made it. Smoak is an idea here which gives Toronto their representative. Thumbs Way Down.
2b – Jed Lowrie, Oakland – .290, 16, 62 is more than worthy to be the 2b back up to Altuve. Thumbs Up.
2b – Gleyber Torres, New York – .295, 15, 42 and doesn’t qualify for the batting title. No thanks. With all the guys at 1b, give me one of them. Thumbs Down.
3b – Alex Bregman, Houston – .285, 19, 61, 30 doubles, .530 SLG puts Bregman as the only guy near Ramirez at 3b. Great choice. Thumbs Up.
SS – Francisco Lindor, Cleveland – .295, 25, 62, 12 SB. We discussed this already and either Lindor starts or backs up. Thumbs Up.
OF – Michael Brantley, Cleveland – .307, 11, 52 – While his comeback is great news for baseball, he’s not on my All-Star Team. His spot keeps more deserving players off. I would fill this spot with Nick Castellanos (Detroit) – .305, 15, 56, .523 slugging. Thumbs Down.
OF – Shin Soo-Choo, Texas – .290, 17, 42 gives Soo-Choo a very deserving spot to be the sole Texas representative. Thumbs Up.
OF – Mitch Haniger, Seattle – .275, 18, 65, .500 SLG – While Haniger is having his break out season, it doesn’t sit well with me as Andrew Benintendi is slashing .301, 14, 57 with a .523 SLG and a .384 OBP, giving him an OPS 47 points higher.
OF – George Springer, Houston – .248, 15, 48 – I get it that the Astros won the World Series last year and are having another great season this year, but give me a friggin’ break with this. Eddie Rosario (Minnesota) has had an absolutely unbelievable year with these monster stats: .300, 18, 54, .527 SLG. Thumbs Way Down
OF – Nelson Cruz, Seattle – .265, 22, 65, .540 SLG – A perennial slugger and former home run leader, I don’t have an issue with this. I suppose Giancarlo Stanton fans have an argument but it doesn’t get my prickleys up. Thumbs Up.
American League Pitchers
SP – Trevor Bauer, Cleveland – 8-6, 2.30, 168 K’s – Bauer is having a great year and deserves every bit of this. Thumbs Up.
SP – Jose Berrios, Minnesota – 9-7, 3.44, 122 – The former shortstop turned pitcher gives the Twins their only representative unless Rosario gets chosen as he should have. So, if Rosario goes, then this opens this spot, as his stats aren’t near as impressive as Charlie Morton’s (Houston) 11-2, 2.96, 146. Thumbs Down
SP – Gerrit Cole, Houston – 9-2, 2.57, 169 – Having a breakout year! Thumbs Way Up
SP – JA Happ, Toronto – 10-4, 4.44, 154 – He’s only here because Toronto has nobody else, but this spot MUST be filled by Blake Snell who leads the league in ERA and is 12-4 with 132 Ks. It’s an absolute travesty that Snell is not on this team. Thumbs Way Way Down
SP – Corey Kluber, Cleveland – 12-4, 2.49, 123 – Last year’s Cy Young winner deserves a spot again. Thumbs Up.
SP – Chris Sale, Boston – 10-4, 2.28, 180 – The all-time Major League leader in strikeouts per nine innings is dealing again this year. Thumbs Up
SP – Justin Verlander, Houston – 9-5, 2.05, 160 – Astros pitching coach, Brent Strom, deserves a raise. He’s turned around Morton, Cole and Verlander. Thumbs Up.
SP – Luis Severino, New York – 14-2, 2.12, 143 – The early leader for the Cy Young should start the All-Star game. Thumbs Up.
RP – Aroldis Chapman, New York – 3-0, 1.42, 24 Saves – Everybody wants to see the 103 MPH fastball on center stage. Thumbs Up.
RP – Edwin Diaz, Seattle – 0-2, 2.25, 36 Saves – He leads the league in saves by a long way and is eyeing the all-time record of 62 by Francisco Rodriguez. Thumbs Up.
RP – Joe Jiminez, Detroit – 4-1, 2.85, 3 saves – What? He’s only here because Castellanos wasn’t voted on by anybody. The Commissioner’s office probably put him on for the Tigers’ representative. But if you put Castellanos on, there’s no need for this charity pick. Give this spot to Keona Kela (Texas) who is 22 for 22 in saves. Thumbs Way Down
RP – Craig Kimbrel, Boston – 1-1, 1.91, 28 Saves – Second in saves. Sub-2.00 ERA. Yep. Thumbs Up.
RP – Brian Treinan, Oakland – 5-2, 0.98, 23 Saves – What a year this guy has been having! No- brainer. Thumbs Way Up
Late Add – Juan Segura, Seattle – .329, 7, 47, 63 runs, 14 SB – Not a terrible choice, but I can’t believe he beat out Eddie Rosario. My All-Star team would have Rosario in the OF and not Segura here but Andrelton Simmons: .311, 6, 41 but stellar defense and a canon for an arm. I want him there so I can see his off the charts defense. Thumbs Down.
My AL All-Star Roster
C – Ramos, Perez
1b – Abreu, Smoak, Olson
2B – Altuve, Lowrie
3B – Ramirez, Bregman
SS – Machado, Lindor, Simmons
OF – Betts, Trout, Judge, Choo, Castellanos, Rosario, Cruz, Benintendi
DH – Martinez
SP – Verlander, Severino, Cole, Sale, Kluber, Snell, Morton, Bauer
RP – Chapman, Diaz, Kela, Kimbrel, Treinan
Stay tuned for my take on the NL team!