Major League Baseball has a new voting process for determining the starters for the Midsummer Classic this year. I’ll be honest: not loving it. But it is what it is. The primary portion of the voting is complete and now we’re down to three candidates per position (nine outfielders). If you’re looking for a little help in voting for the most “deserving” candidates (rather than simply voting for your hometown / favorite team’s starters), I’ve got you covered.
In the AL, the finalists are Gary Sanchez (NYY), James McCann (CHW), and Robinson Chirinos (HOU). Although McCann has put together a nice half season at the plate (outhitting Chirinos by ninety points), it’d be a landslide upset if Sanchez isn’t the starter. 23 homers should earn him the nod and it’s hard to argue for anyone otherwise.
Over in the NL, you can select either Willson Contreras (CHC) or Yasmani Grandal (MIL). Brian McCann is inexplicably on this ballot over Yadier Molina — exposing both the flaws in this system and the complete lack of objectivity on the part of the residents of “Braves Nation.” Seriously, McCann isn’t even the best backstop on his own team. Although, after last night’s Cubs / Braves dustup, it’d be great television to see McCann and Contreras sharing a locker room in a couple of weeks. According to WAR, Grandal should be the starter and that’s who I’ll be voting for.
Pete Alonso should be on this list of finalists. But I digress.
Josh Bell (PIT) has had an incredible run to begin 2019. His finally delivering the kinds of numbers the Bucs were expecting. But I’ve been saying it for a while: Freddie Freeman is one of the best hitters of his generation and he has the numbers to prove it. He should absolutely be the starter for the National League.
American League finalists Luke Voit (NYY), C.J. Cron (MIN), and Carlos Santana (CLE) look nearly identical on paper, so this race is wide open. I’m a little partial to Voit simply because he’s a former Cardinal farmhand, but you could truly cast a vote for any of the three. I’ll probably lean toward Cron, simply as a way of acknowledging the truly amazing story of the Twins in this first half. But I’m sure Yankee fans will push en masse for Voit to be the starter.
Look, I love Jose Altuve as much as anybody. But it’ll be a joke if he’s the starter here. D.J. LeMahieu has been a revelation in the Bronx this spring, generating an OPS over .850 and already producing 3.0 Wins Above Replacement. But I’ll be rooting for Tommy La Stella, the former utility man who has become a fixture atop the Angels lineup. Fan voting was created for just this reason. Put La Stella in the lineup.
In the NL, your choices are Mike Moustakas (MIL), Ketel Marte (ARI), and Ozzie Albies (ATL). I know Braves fans think Albies is the next Joe Morgan, but every respectable metric shows that both Marte and Moustakas have outperformed him by a 2-to-1 ratio. Moustakas has seamlessly made the move from third to second, but Marte’s out-of-nowhere production is impressive. I really hope he gets the nod, because he’s the most deserving candidate.
Whether you like him or not, Javier Baez looks like he’s here to stay. His primary total of 2.5 million votes seems like a pretty good indication that he’s going to be starting this game for the NL. But Trevor Story has actually been better. It’s a shame that a hand injury might keep him from making the team. And Braves fans…get out of here with your Dansby Swanson. Please.
An early season injury to Frankie Lindor left the door open in the American League and all three finalists — Carlos Correa (HOU), Gleyber Torres (NYY), and Jorge Polanco (MIN) — have had tremendous half-seasons. But I’m compelled to vote for Polanco, who is looking like a legit MVP candidate for the upstart Twins.
In the American League, Alex Bregman should pretty much have this one locked down. His batting average is a bit low, but the power is there and he deserves the start. Hunter Dozier will probably make the team as well, albeit as the lone Royal representative.
And what in the world does Anthony Rendon have to do to make an All-Star team? Nolan Arenado is great, so it’s a foregone conclusion that he’s the starter here, but how can you objectively argue that either Donaldson or Bryant have put together better first halves than Rendon? Here’s hoping his snub streak finally comes to an end this summer.
How good is Mike Trout? In three months, he’s already produced 5.2 Wins Above Replacement — which is just insane. So he’s a shoo-in for the American League. The other two spots could go to a couple of Astros. George Springer amassed over 2 million votes in the primary and would be a deserving flankmate for Trout. The third leading vote-getter among AL outfielders was Michael Brantley and he’s certainly a deserving candidate. But I’ll probably select Austin Meadows instead. He’s been a true spark for the Rays and I’d love for his first half to be rewarded with an All-Star game start.
At least we know that Cody Bellinger and Christian Yelich will be in the outfield for the NL on Tuesday, July 9th. The two NL MVP candidates are a joy to watch. I feel sorry for American League pitchers. The other outfield spot is probably up in the air. The third and fourth leading NL outfielders in the primary were Ronald Acuna Jr. and Nick Markakis. Yes, Nick Markakis, whose 0.9 Wins Above Replacement for the season trails household names such as Mark Canha, J.P. Crawford, and Pablo Sandoval. Let’s just hope it’s Acuna.
Who cares? These guys don’t play the field.
Just kidding. Nelson Cruz, J.D. Martinez, and Hunter Pence all have comparable stats, so I might just vote for Pence, given that his career was on life-support just a few months ago.