Some of the choices for the 2016 MLB All-Star Game have annoyed me, so I’m going to do what I did last year and make a team of more deserving players and present it to you all. Enough of the chit chat, though. Reasons for each player selection will be after the lists.
|POS||American League||National League|
|C||Alex Avila (Detroit Tigers)||Buster Posey (San Francisco Giants)|
|1B||Logan Morrison (Tampa Bay Rays)||Paul Goldschmidt (Arizona Diamondbacks)|
|2B||Jose Altuve (Houston Astros)||Daniel Murphy (Washington Nationals)|
|SS||Carlos Correa (Houston Astros)||Zack Cozart (Cincinnati Reds)|
|3B||Jose Ramirez (Cleveland Indians)||Justin Turner (Los Angeles Dodgers)|
|OF||Aaron Judge (New York Yankees)||Bryce Harper (Washington Nationals)|
|OF||Mike Trout (Los Angeles Angels)||Marcell Ozuna (Miami Marlins)|
|OF||George Springer (Houston Astros)||Charlie Blackmon (Colorado Rockies)|
|DH||Corey Dickerson (Tampa Bay Rays)||Kris Bryant (Chicago Cubs)||RESERVES|
|POS||American League||National League|
|C||Gary Sanchez (New York Yankees)||Yasmani Grandal (Los Angeles Dodgers)|
|1B||Justin Smoak (Toronto Blue Jays)||Joey Votto (Cincinnati Reds)|
|1B||Yonder Alonso (Oakland Athletics)||Freddie Freeman (Atlanta Braves)|
|2B||Jonathan Schoop (Baltimore Orioles)||Josh Harrison (Pittsburgh Pirates)|
|SS||Andrelton Simmons (Los Angeles Angels)||Corey Seager (Los Angeles Dodgers)|
|3B||Miguel Sano (Minnesota Twins)||Anthony Rendon (Washington Nationals)|
|SS/3B||Xander Bogaerts (Boston Red Sox)||Nolan Arenado (Colorado Rockies)|
|OF||Mookie Betts (Boston Red Sox)||Cody Bellinger (Los Angeles Dodgers)|
|OF||Lorenzo Cain (Kansas City Royals)||Michael Conforto (New York Mets)|
|OF||Avisail Garcia (Chicago White Sox)||Adam Duvall (Cincinnati Reds)|
|UTL||Aaron Hicks (New York Yankees)||Jake Lamb (Arizona Diamondbacks)|
|P||Chris Sale (Boston Red Sox)||Max Scherzer (Washington Nationals)|
|P||Michael Fulmer (Detroit Tigers)||Clayton Kershaw (Los Angeles Dodgers)|
|P||Dallas Keuchel (Houston Astros)||Zack Greinke (Arizona Diamondbacks)|
|P||Jason Vargas (Kansas City Royals)||Stephen Strasburg (Washington Nationals)|
|P||Yu Darvish (Texas Rangers)||Carlos Martinez (St. Louis Cardinals)|
|P||James Paxton (Seattle Mariners)||Alex Wood (Los Angeles Dodgers)|
|P||Craig Kimbrel (Boston Red Sox)||Kenley Jansen (Los Angeles Dodgers)|
|P||Andrew Miller (Cleveland Indians)||Corey Knebel (Milwaukee Brewers)|
|P||Chris Devenski (Houston Astros)||Felipe Rivero (Pittsburgh Pirates)|
|P||Roberto Osuna (Toronto Blue Jays)||Archie Bradley (Arizona Diamondbacks)|
|P||Blake Parker (Los Angeles Angels)||Pat Neshek (Philadelphia Phillies)|
|P||Mike Minor (Kansas City Royals)||Brad Hand (San Diego Padres)|
American League, Catcher: This was actually a really hard one to decide. I could have taken three catchers, and I honestly probably should have, but I feel that I picked the two guys who deserved to be here the most. Alex Avila leads all AL catchers in FanGraphs’ Wins Above Replacement (fWAR) model, and does so by over half-a-win. He’s had nearly 100 fewer plate appearances than Salvador Perez, the voted-in starter, but Avila’s been better. The debate then came down to Gary Sanchez and Perez. It was tough. Ultimately, I went with Sanchez. He’s been better offensively, compiled more fWAR in just over 70 fewer plate appearances, and he’s been a better pitch framer and is posting an identical Caught Stealing rate as Perez – both at 32 percent. In the end, I gave Sanchez the nod. If I took three catchers, though, Perez definitely makes it.
National League, Catcher: Come on, it’s Buster Posey. Of course he’s the starter. The dude is obliterating the rest of the competition in the National League right now when it comes to the catcher spot. Enough said. As far as the backup, it got really complicated. I could have went with either Willson Contreras or J.T. Realmuto, but instead opted to go with Yasmani Grandal. Contreras and Grandal are deadlocked in fWAR, but Grandal’s been slightly better offensively in just under ten more plate appearances. There’s also the fact that Grandal’s been the second-best pitch framer in the game, behind only Tyler Flowers of the Braves. And, honestly, Flowers was in the discussion for this spot, as well. After Posey, it’s a mess. But I gave the nod to Grandal, and I feel comfortable with it.
American League, First Base: There might be no more underrated guy in the game right now than Logan Morrison. He’s tearing the cover off the ball, playing great, and is part of the reason the Tampa Bay Rays are in the second Wild Card spot as of this moment. He deserves to start. The two backups were somewhat easy, to be honest. Justin Smoak has been superb in Toronto, and he’s second in fWAR among AL first basemen behind Morrison. Yonder Alonso is third in fWAR, but Marwin Gonzalez and a few others are sort of right on his heels. However, the Oakland Athletics need a representative and Alonso is in a close competition with Jed Lowrie for the title of best player on that team. Alonso’s been a beast offensively in what has been a resurgent year for him. It’s a great story.
National League, First Base: Let’s face it, Paul Goldschmidt is a beast. That’s all. He starts. Joey Votto has been nearly as beastly, so he gets first backup spot. Those two are easy. No debate needed. As for the third spot, it’s a tough one but also not really. Freddie Freeman was a monster before his injury and I can’t see any reason to not reward him for his stellar first half of the year – injury or not. He gets the third spot and everyone else just has to deal with it and live in his shadow for another season. Fun fact, by the way: since the start of the 2016 season, the leaderboard in fWAR in the National League for first basemen is Freddie Freeman at 8.7, Paul Goldschmidt at 8.7, and Joey Votto at 8.6. They’re absurd.
American League, Second Base: Jose Altuve is good. That is all. The backup spot was a toss-up between Jed Lowrie, Jonathan Schoop, and Robinson Cano. However, the Baltimore Orioles need a representative and Schoop has been super good this season. He’s posting a 2.0 fWAR right now, which is right behind Lowrie’s 2.1 mark for second-best in the AL. Cano is at 1.9, for reference. They’re all mushed together. Ultimately, Schoop gets in because he’s been the best player on an underwhelming Baltimore squad.
National League, Second Base: It doesn’t get any tighter than Daniel Murphy and Josh Harrison right now. Both are at 2.3 fWAR for the season in nearly the same amount of plate appearances. I gave Murphy the slightest of nods just for being the better bat, and that meant that Harrison got moved down to the backup spot. I cannot, for the life of me, understand how DJ LeMahieu is making the actual All-Star Game, though. That’s a travesty and everyone involved should be ashamed. Congratulations to him, but this is a super bad look. Among the 12 qualified second basemen in the National League, LeMahieu ranks 10th in both fWAR and Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+). If you’re going to randomly reward someone on an overachieving team, why not make it Brandon Drury? Just so bad.
American League, Shortstop: Do we even need to talk about why Carlos Correa is the starter here? I didn’t think so. But, just to say it, he’s played like his potential said he could be: the best shortstop in the AL. Kudos to him for living up to it this year. As for the backups, I went with two guys who are equally deserving. Xander Bogaerts has been super good, especially on the bases and offensively. Andrelton Simmons has been his usual Simba self in the field, but he’s also found his offense again. The three spots for shortstop here make sense, and all three guys are incredible worthy.
National League, Shortstop: The only debate here is who should start between Corey Seager and Zack Cozart. If you go just off of fWAR, it’s Seager. He’s at 3.3 while Cozart is at 2.9. However, Seager’s had 62 more plate appearances. If you put Cozart at the same number of plate appearances as Seager, then Cozart is at 3.6 fWAR for the year. That was the deciding factor here. Cozart’s been ever-so-slightly better with the bat and with the glove, as well. Both make the team easily since no other shortstop in the National League is on their level, and honestly thank god for Cozart this season because otherwise we’d see a major drop off to the backup after Seager. Either way, both are in and both are awesome.
American League, Third Base: Much like Logan Morrison, Jose Ramirez is a massively underrated player in baseball. He leads all American League third basemen in fWAR and wRC+ so far in 2017, and that feat earns him the starting nod quite easily. Only one other third baseman deserves to be in Miami for this game, and that’s Miguel Sano. The phenom has posted a 137 wRC+ and 2.3 fWAR this season while leading all of baseball in average exit velocity on batted balls (95.6 miles per hour). He’s a huge reason the Minnesota Twins are still in the playoff race right now.
National League, Third Base: Let’s put it in simple terms here for a moment. Justin Turner is hitting .388 and posting a 182 wRC+. He’s also tied for second in the National League in fWAR. I do not care that he’s only had 246 plate appearances. He’s been a whirlwind of offensive brilliance and should be rewarded for it by starting. Anthony Rendon is actually fourth in the National League in fWAR, and for that reason alone he easily gets the backup nod. He’s posting a 147 wRC+ right now. This isn’t rocket science. Nolan Arenado gets the third spot on this team because he’s posted a 2.7 fWAR for the year and has been his usual amazing all-around self again. He’s the heart and soul of the Rockies. The man ranks ninth in the NL in fWAR. Think of how strong the National League is at third base. Four of the top ten players in the league in Wins Above Replacement play that position. It’s insane. More on the fourth guy shortly. As for the Utility spot, it goes to Jake Lamb. He’s second in the NL in RBI, but more importantly he’s in the top twenty for fWAR. At the end of all this, it makes it to where the top nineteen position players in fWAR in the National League actually made this team. Good for Jake Lamb.
American League, Outfield: Aaron Judge is a monster-sized man that leads baseball in fWAR, Mike Trout is still – when healthy – the best player in the game, and George Springer has been phenomenal. That’s why those three are the starters. Get it? Got it? Good. Mookie Betts is the easy choice as the first reserve while Lorenzo Cain makes it because the Kansas City Royals need a representative, and he’s actually been their best player this season. So he gets that honor. The sixth outfield spot goes to Avisail Garcia. The Chicago White Sox need to get someone in the game, and who better than him? He’s currently posting a 131 wRC+ and his 2.1 fWAR ranks tenth among all outfielders in the AL. Aaron Hicks gets the nod as a Utility Player, only because that spot is reserved for anyone making the team last at any position. That’s Hicks. He currently ranks sixth in the AL in fWAR among outfielders, and his 144 wRC+ also ranks sixth among outfielders to log at least 200 plate appearances. Yeah, he’s good. He should be here.
National League, Outfield: It’s Bryce Harper. Let’s be real here. After him, Marcell Ozuna and Charlie Blackmon are slam dunk choices. The game is in Miami and the Marlins need someone to feel good about, so who better than Ozuna? He’s been their best player, by far, and is a fun guy to watch play. As for Blackmon, he’s been truly great for Colorado. Along with Arenado, probably the two most important guys on that team. As for the reserves, Cody Bellinger needs to be here just for being a god. I gave him an outfield spot because who the hell at first base should get knocked out? No one. Michael Conforto being the lone Mets representative is actually hilarious since they refused to play him for a while and completely wrote him off at one point. That puts the five best National League outfielders into this game right there. As for the sixth spot, it was tough. It could have been Ender Inciarte or Chris Taylor. Yes, Chris Taylor has been crazy good. And, yes, he’s eligible in the outfield. He’s played nearly half his games there. But, let’s give more love to Adam Duvall. He’s tied for sixth in fWAR and has posted a 128 wRC+. Let the man make a second All-Star Game. Why not? Reward the Reds.
American League, Designated Hitter: To put it mildly, who the hell else would this be other than Corey Dickerson? The dude is freaking incredible. He’s posted a 2.9 fWAR and 149 wRC+ for the Rays this season. He has 17 home runs, 60 runs scored, and 40 runs batted in. Sure, he’s likely due for some regression in the second half of the year but who the hell cares? Reward. This. Man.
National League, Designated Hitter: Remember that fourth guy among NL third basemen that I was talking about? Well, it’s Kris Bryant. I could have fudged and put Bryant in the outfield and put Cody Bellinger here, but instead I just want Bryant to DH. No, he’s not having a truly amazing offensive season – his 137 wRC+ actually ranks 15th in the NL – but the man should be in this game. To be honest, it really doesn’t matter who the DH actually is. Even if you disagree with Bryant here, put Rendon in this spot and Bryant as a reserve third baseman. Or put Lamb here. Or put Conforto. Or Votto. Up to you. Either way, Bryant should be here and he gets a spot. Deal with it.
American League, Starting Pitchers: So, um, after Chris Sale the American League starting pitchers are not easy to pick between. I’m not kidding. Sale’s the easy one. He should start the game. Michael Fulmer is second in fWAR, so give him a spot. After that, yikes. Among AL starters with at least 50 innings pitched, Dallas Keuchel leads everyone in ERA while Jason Vargas is second. So they both make it. Yay! The final two starter spots go to Yu Darvish and James Paxton for me. The Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners need reps, and those two have been their best players. Paxton has been incredible, Darvish has been dominant. What more is there to say? Corey Kluber had a case, as did Chris Archer and Luis Severino and Lance McCullers. Ultimately, each team getting one person on the roster doomed them. Tough luck.
National League, Starting Pitchers: Hey! A league with some easy choices! Max Scherzer should probably start the game and is the first lock, then comes Clayton Kershaw and his ridiculousness. Zack Greinke, Stephen Strasburg, and Carlos Martinez have all been super crazy good so they’re in. The sixth and final starter spot for me goes to Alex Wood. Among starters with at least 50 innings pitched, he leads the National League in ERA and FIP. He’s technically on pace for a 7.6 fWAR/200IP season, which tells you how stupidly nutty the dude has been for the Los Angeles Dodgers. The guys on the outside looking in are Jimmy Nelson and Chase Anderson of the Milwaukee Brewers. Wood’s just been a tad better.
American League, Relievers: Craig Kimbrel is back to his ‘most dominant reliever in baseball history’ self again, and it’s hilariously great. Andrew Miller is dumb stupid good, Chris Devenski is a hybrid magician, and Roberto Osuna is scary. Blake Parker has not been talked about all that much, but he’s currently fifth in the AL among qualified relievers in fWAR and happens to be third in FIP and seventh in strikeout-minus-walk rate (K-BB%). He should be rewarded for this season so far. As for the sixth and final spot, it was super hard. It was a tough debate between Tommy Kahnle of the White Sox and Mike Minor of the Royals, but ultimately Minor won out by the slightest of margins. And I do mean slightest. I wish there was another spot. I’d have taken Kahnle if there was.
National League, Relievers: As good as Kimbrel has been, Kenley Jansen has nearly matched him. It’s wild. Corey Knebel gets the Milwaukee nod for being the second best reliever in the National League right now, and Felipe Rivero must make Nationals fans mad. The Pirates stole him at the deadline last year and he’s turned in a monster of a performance so far in 2017. While Pat Neshek and Brad Hand seem like weird choices, the Phillies and Padres each needed a player to rep them, and those two have been super good. Neshek ranks eighth in the NL in fWAR while Hand is 16th. The final spot was ultimately between Archie Bradley (1.1 fWAR), Wade Davis (1.2), Jim Johnson (1.2), and Greg Holland (1.1). In the end, Bradley gets it due to his RA9-WAR – which is basically just runs allowed per nine innings extrapolated into a win formula much like Wins Above Replacement – being better than everyone else. Among those four pitchers, Bradley is first in RA9-WAR and first in ERA while striking out just over 30 percent of the batters he faces. It was a tough call, but let’s give some major props to Bradley.
Another year down, another year where I complain about how dumb voters are. I’m old, I’m cranky, I’m over it. Sigh. They really let DJ LeMahieu, Yadier Molina, Starlin Castro, Francisco Lindor, Nelson Cruz, Michael Brantley, Ryan Zimmerman, Robbie Ray, Dellin Betances, and Ervin Santana make this god damn game. God dammit, man. Just kill me. Whatever.
Anyways, enjoy the game that I gave you with the rosters that are better. Just play it out in your mind and tell me who wins. Actually, don’t. We already know who wins. It would have been us, the fans.
Ugh. Stupid fan voting.