The Midsummer Classic is less than one month away! There are few events more exciting in the MLB season than the All-Star Game, which will take place in San Diego this year on July 12.
There is a science to selecting players for the All-Star team, and finding out just who made the cut is always an exciting moment. The teams are made up of 34 players total, including a designated hitter. Each team must have at least one representative at the All-Star Game, and managers typically like to have lots of depth at key positions like catcher, outfielder, the middle infield, and on the mound.
In the first part of a two-part series, let’s take a look at who could be representing the Junior Circuit, the American League, at the Midsummer Classic.
Catcher (3): Salvador Perez, Stephen Vogt, Brian McCann
All-Star Game managers always carry three catchers in case of injury, and the selections of Perez, Vogt, and McCann are easy to make.
Perez and Vogt have had stellar seasons both at the plate and behind the dish, and while McCann has slumped lately, no other catcher has the numbers or pedigree that the Yankee backstop has.
First Basemen (2): Eric Hosmer, Miguel Cabrera
While it may seem like the Kansas City Royal fans always stuff the ballot box, they absolutely nailed it by selecting Hosmer to start the All-Star Game. “The Wizard of Hoz” is having an outstanding year, leading the AL first basemen in average and OPS, and ranking third in home runs, extra base hits, and RBI.
Miguel Cabrera hasn’t been his usual dominant self this year, but his numbers and track record still constitute a call to the All-Star Game.
Second Basemen (3): Jose Altuve, Robinson Cano, Ian Kinsler
Second base has been a very deep position this year, so manager Ned Yost may want to consider carrying three second sackers, even if it limits his versatility.
Jose Altuve is an easy choice as the starter; he leads second basemen in almost all categories. Robinson Cano of the Mariners has bounced back big time this year, continuing his late-season surge from 2015. And don’t sleep on Tigers’ second baseman Ian Kinsler, who has hit over .300 with power, speed, and fine defense.
Third Basemen (2): Manny Machado, Josh Donaldson
Third base is a position where at least four players can stake a legitimate All-Star claim. While Machado is the starter as of now and Donaldson, the reigning MVP, is almost guaranteed a spot, Tigers’ third baseman Nick Castellanos and the Rays’ Evan Longoria each deserve to be at San Diego as well.
However, thanks to roster limits and the rule that every ballclub needs at least one representative, it is possible that one or both of the aforementioned players could undeservedly get left off of the roster.
Shortstop (2): Xander Bogaerts, Eduardo Nunez
Bogaerts is as much of a sure thing to start at shortstop as ever; he is having an MVP-caliber season in only his age-23 season. He is hitting .359 with power, playing fine defense, and is just taking over the entire MLB.
This year’s surprise addition to the roster will likely be the Minnesota Twins’ shortstop, Eduardo Nunez. “Nunie” has found a niche in Minnesota, and seems likely to be the Twins’ lone All-Star rep.
Designated Hitter (2): David Ortiz, Victor Martinez
It is a huge surprise to see two designated hitters selected to the All-Star Game roster, but hear me out. We all know that Ortiz is a lock to go, with his .340 average, 16 homers, and retirement tour in tow. However, Victor Martinez of the Tigers is also quite deserving to be on the final roster.
V-Mart is hitting .330, getting on base at a .381 clip, and is hitting for more power than usual. While it is quite odd to see two DHs on a roster, manager Ned Yost simply cannot resist the allure of the two big boppers.
Outfield (7): Mike Trout, Jackie Bradley Jr., Lorenzo Cain, Mookie Betts, Mark Trumbo, Carlos Beltran, George Springer
The AL outfield is stacked as per usual this year. Trout is having one of his best overall seasons, Bradley Jr. has been an absolute monster at the plate and in the field, and Cain is a cinch to make the team thanks to his supportive fan base.
The reserves are equally talented. Betts and Trumbo could be starters on most other All-Star teams, Beltran has continued his career resurgence, and Springer is a complete reserve that can do it all.
Interestingly, while Trumbo, Beltran, and Betts will likely be reserves, they are 1-2-3 on the AL home run leaderboard for outfielders.
Pitcher (13): Chris Sale, Danny Salazar, Steven Wright, Rich Hill, Felix Hernandez, Cole Hamels, Jordan Zimmermann, Marco Estrada, Zach Britton, Wade Davis, Andrew Miller, Kelvin Herrerra, Alex Colome
It is always tough to predict the pitchers that make the All-Star Game due to injuries, Sunday Starters, and the amount of starters and relievers. Due to the overwhelming power of the AL bullpens, I project 5 relievers and 8 starters will make the club.
For the starters, Sale seems like the presumptive All-Star Game starter. He is 10-2 on the season, is sixth in strikeouts, and is an imposing figure on the mound. Zimmermann, Hamels, and Hernandez are also all used to being to All-Star Games; their pedigrees speak for themselves.
But while some AL starters like Sonny Gray, Chris Archer, Dallas Keuchel, and David Price have limped out of the gate, some unexpected contributors like knuckleballer Steven Wright, journeyman Rich Hill, young stud Danny Salazar, and little-known Marco Estrada have jumped into their spots from last year’s All-Star club. Despite their inexperience, these four have been too good to be left off of the roster.