We’re roughly three weeks away from the MLB All-Star game and as I’ve done in previous seasons, I’ll give my picks on who should start for the 2017 Midsummer Classic. We’ll go through each position and I’ll post each player’s wRC+ and WAR (from Fangraphs). These are two stats that I use often to evaluate players. I especially like wRC+ because it puts every player on a scale that is easy to analyze. A wRC+ of 100 means the player is exactly league average on offense, 110 would mean 10% above average, and so on.
This is my current picks right now but these are subject to change and I’ll update again a little closer to the actual game. Here are my picks for each position.
American League Catcher
Alex Avila (174 wRC+, 2.3 WAR)
Salvador Perez (112 wRC+, 1.3 WAR)
Gary Sanchez (146 wRC+, 1.6 WAR)
Brian McCann (127 wRC+, 1.5 WAR)
The clear choice appears to be Avila but you have to dig a little deeper. Avila has only played 48 games total and only caught in 30 of those. He’s also played some first base and designated hitter and isn’t even listed on the MLB.com ballot. Because of that, I don’t think he makes much sense to put as the starting catcher and I’ll consider him for a spot at designated hitter later in the article. Sanchez runs into a similar issue as he has only played 41 games total compared to Perez’s 64. But in those 41 games, Sanchez has surpassed Perez in WAR and had a better wRC+ over that time. At this exact time, I’m going with the player with more games played but this is a position where I could easily switch to the young star in a future update.
The Pick: Salvador Perez
National League Catcher
Buster Posey (155 wRC+, 2.6 WAR)
I didn’t even list any alternatives because Posey is clearly the best catcher in the league and there isn’t anyone in the NL that is currently challenging him. He should run away with the fan vote this year.
The Pick: Buster Posey
American League First Baseman
Yonder Alonso (168 wRC+, 2.2 WAR)
Logan Morrison (140 wRC+, 2.2 WAR)
Justin Smoak (151 w RC+, 1.8 WAR)
Not exactly murderer’s row, especially when you compare to their counterparts in the National League. Alonso and Morrison are currently tied for WAR, but Alonso holds the edge in runs created.
The Pick: Yonder Alonso
National League First Baseman
Paul Goldschmidt (164 wRC+, 3.6 WAR)
Joey Votto (158 wRC+ 2.9 WAR)
Ryan Zimmerman (168 wRC+, 2.1 WAR)
First base is so deep that my final list doesn’t even include Anthony Rizzo, Eric Thames, or the underrated Justin Bour. Ryan Zimmerman is crushing the ball this year thanks to an increase in launch angle and Joey Votto is his usual self with another great season of getting on base. But this may be the year that people finally appreciate the greatness of Goldschmidt out in Arizona who may be the best overall player in the game with Trout on the disabled list.
The Pick: Paul Goldschmidt
Jose Altuve (148 wRC+, 3.1 WAR)
Daniel Murphy (147 wRC+, 2.2 WAR)
I grouped these two together because, similar to Posey, I didn’t think there was much competition to either vote with the closest being Chris Taylor of the Dodgers in the NL.
The Picks: Jose Altuve & Daniel Murphy
American League Third Baseman
Jose Ramirez (145 wRC+, 2.6 WAR)
Miguel Sano (151 wRC+, 2.4 WAR)
Ramirez has been one of the bigger surprises in the league this season. Sano is a little more well known but neither of these are household names so it’s surprising to see that Sano is currently leading the fan vote. I actually agree with the majority in this case although I think it’s a good thing to shine a light on Jose Ramirez’s 2017 campaign thus far.
The pick: Miguel Sano
National League Third Baseman
Justin Turner (174 wRC+, 2.9 WAR)
Nolan Arenado (120 wRC+, 2.8 WAR)
Anthony Rendon (137 wRC+, 2.7 WAR)
Kris Bryant (136 wRC+, 2.3 WAR)
What Turner has done in limited time is nothing short of amazing but the limited number of games (49 played so far) does hurt his case to start. If he continues at this pace, then he will become my pick but for now I have to go with one of his competitors. This was really tough given the stats, so I went to the “eye test” and went with who I think is the best third baseman currently in the game.
The pick: Nolan Arenado
American League Shortstop
Xander Bogaerts (118 wRC+, 2.6 WAR)
Carlos Correa (138 wRC+, 2.4 WAR)
Francisco Lindor (106 wRC+, 1.9 WAR)
Three very young players that should be competing for All-Star starts for years to come are competing this year as well. I listed Lindor, but I really think it comes down to Bogaerts and Correa. With close decisions, I tend to favor offense over defense and I my “eye test” also agrees with the conclusion.
The pick: Carlos Correa
National League Shortstop
Corey Seager (141 wRC+, 3.1 WAR)
Zack Cozart (149 wRC+, 2.8 WAR
Cozart’s recent DL stint (and Seager’s 3-homer game) has allowed Seager to pass him in total WAR and I think should supplant him in the All-Star vote as well. Cozart is having a great season and should still make the team but the starting job should go to one of the up and coming stars of the league.
The pick: Corey Seager
American League Outfield
Aaron Judge (199 wRC+, 4.5 WAR)
Mike Trout (208 wRC+, 3.3 WAR)
Aaron Hicks (156 wRC+, 2.9 WAR)
Mookie Betts (116 wRC+, 2.7 WAR)
George Springer (145 wRC+, 2.6 WAR)
Avisail Garcia (147 wRC+, 2.5 WAR)
First of all, let’s all take a minute to appreciate those numbers by both Judge and Trout this season. Due to injury, I considered leaving Trout off of the list. But then you realize he is still third in the league in total WAR and it kind of makes it hard to leave him off as a candidate, or in this case even as a starter. Judge is a total lock to start the team and should be a lock to hit in the Home Run Derby as well.
The third outfielder is the toughest decision. Based on statistics, there isn’t a whole lot of reasons to not take Aaron Hicks other than “I think it’s kind fluky” which isn’t a great reason at all. Betts isn’t having a great hitting year but still provides value in the field and running the bases. Springer is a great cog at the top of the Astros’ lineup and Avisail Garcia is having an undercovered year and is likely trade bait for the White Sox. I originally penciled in Betts as the pick, but am calling a late audible.
The picks: Aaron Judge, Mike Trout, Aaron Hicks
National League Outfield
Bryce Harper (159 wRC+, 3.0 WAR)
Marcell Ozuna (156 wRC+, 2.9 WAR)
Charlie Blackmon (133 wRC+, 2.5 WAR)
Cody Bellinger (155 wRC+, 2.2 WAR)
Michael Conforto (149 wRC+, 2.1 WAR)
Harper is back to being one of the most productive hitters in the league and is a lock. Ozuna should be a lock but is currently fifth in fan voting behind a couple of Cubs in Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist thanks to some homer fan voting from Chicago combined with the Marlins not having any fans. The third pick is currently Blackmon but it’s amazing how quick Bellinger has moved into the conversation considering his late call-up to the majors. Conforto was also off to a great start before he was injured because he plays for the Mets.
The picks: Bryce Harper, Marcell Ozuna, Charlie Blackmon
American League Designated Hitter
Alex Avila (174 wRC+, 2.3 WAR)
Corey Dickerson (152 wRC+, 2.7 WAR)
Avila pops back up here as I wasn’t really sure where to put him earlier. Even though he has been more productive, he has played 21 fewer games than Dickerson who has powered the Rays to remain in contention for a playoff spot.
The pick: Corey Dickerson
That gives us our complete team shown here:
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