Since we are essentially a quarter of the way through the season, we are nearly half-way to the All-Star Game. And, since voting ends July 2nd, it’s time to consider who deserves recognition for being an All-Star this year. As I did last season, I will make 3 All-Star Game posts. The first list will receive 5 of my 35 votes, the next list of players (posted in early to mid-June) will receive 10 votes, and my final ballot (posted near the end of voting) will receive 25 votes. It might seem a bit convoluted, but I like to appreciate the guys who have started off the season well, even if they begin to fade by the time the Mid-Summer Classic arrives. So, here is my first ballot, along with the stats to explain each choice (though, they may be slightly off, considering I wrote this a couple days ago).
AL – Miguel Cabrera (DET) – .333/.436/.601, 10 HR, 30 RBI. Leads all AL 1B in batting, OBP, SLG, OPS and RBI. He’s also 2nd in HR (by 1 to Mark Teixeira). There are a few potential contenders here, but many of them have glaring weaknesses in their stats, when compared to Miggy – Teixeira’s batting .248, Edwin Encarnacion has a .311 OBP, etc. The most complete contender at this point is in the same division – Eric Hosmer (.324/.402/.554, 7 HR, 29 RBI). Longshot to keep an eye on: Jose Abreu (CHW).
NL – Adrian Gonzalez (LAD) – .356/.429/.681, 9 HR, 32 RBI. Leads all NL 1B in avg., SLG, OPS and RBI. He’s 3rd in OBP (behind Anthony Rizzo & Paul Goldschmidt) and 2nd in HR (by 1 to Goldschmidt). This is a very tight 3-man race. Even though Gonzalez leads the others in most categories, his edge is slim. Rizzo and Goldschmidt are both having excellent seasons thus far, and could easily take over this spot in the coming weeks. Also impressive is the fact that Rizzo & Goldschmidt have 8 & 6 SB, respectively. Rizzo’s on pace for a 30/30 season! Longshot to keep an eye on: Freddie Freeman (ATL).
AL – Jason Kipnis (CLE) – .340/.406/.507, 4 HR, 17 RBI, 5 SB. Leads all AL 2B in batting, OBP, SLG, and OPS. He’s 5th in HR & RBI, and tied for 2nd in SB. This is a tough one to judge, because the league leaders are fairly spread out. Devon Travis leads the league in HR & RBI, but is 5th in batting and 7th in OBP. Jose Altuve leads the league in SB, is 2nd in batting and RBI, and 3rd in OBP, but 5th in SLG. I’ll give Kipnis a slight edge right now, because he’s playing for the worst scoring offense among the contenders. Longshot to keep an eye on: Logan Forsythe (TB).
NL – Dee Gordon (MIA) – .420/.444/.513, 0 HR, 14 RBI, 12 SB. I know we aren’t supposed to care about batting average anymore, but batting .420 at this point in the season is impressive, no matter what. Gordon also leads all NL 2B in OBP, SLG, OPS, and SB. He also simply does not strike out. The only second baseman in the league with a lower strikeout rate is Daniel Murphy. Behind Gordon is a group of 3 players whose stats are all fairly similar, and have a shot at this spot should Gordon falter – Danny Espinosa, Kolten Wong, and Howie Kendrick. Longshot to keep an eye on: Joe Panik (SF).
AL – Marcus Semien (OAK) – .314/.356/.510, 6 HR, 15 RBI, 6 SB. This is currently a 2-man race, and it’s ever so close. Semien has the edge in HR, RBI, SB, SLG and OPS. Jose Iglesias has the edge in batting, OBP, and doesn’t strike out nearly as often. Plus, Iglesias is only 1 SB behind Semien, and their OPS is only separated by .035. Longshot to keep an eye on: Brad Miller (SEA).
NL – Brandon Crawford (SF) – .285/.380/.512, 6 HR, 25 RBI. Leads all NL SS in HR, RBI and OPS. He’s 2nd in OBP & SLG. Zack Cozart (leads SS’s in SLG) and Jhonny Peralta are just behind Crawford in most categories – but, not by much. Longshot to keep an eye on: Freddy Galvis (PHI).
AL – Josh Donaldson (TOR) – .307/.379/.527, 8 HR, 25 RBI. He leads AL 3B in RBI, OBP, SLG and OPS. He’s 2nd in HR and batting. This one isn’t even really that close right now. He leads the league in OPS by more than 50 points, and even though he’s 2nd in HR, the HR leader (Luis Valbuena) isn’t in the top 5 in anything else significant besides SLG (4th). Mike Moustakas is the best competition for Donaldson right now. He’s 2nd in OPS, and leads AL 3B in batting. But, he has essentially half as many HR & RBI as Donaldson (4 & 13, respectively). Longshot to keep an eye on: Manny Machado (BAL).
NL – Matt Carpenter (STL) – .328/.391/.619, 7 HR, 24 RBI. Not sure he can sustain it, but, Carpenter is 1 HR away from matching last year’s total, and over half-way to a career high. He’s leading all NL 3B in batting, SLG, OPS and RBI. But, it’s a tight 3-man race. Kris Bryant is tied with Carpenter for the RBI lead, and leads the league in OBP. Todd Frazier is 1 RBI behind Carpenter & Bryant, leads the league in HR, and is 2nd in OPS. Longshot to keep an eye on: Nolan Arenado (COL).
AL – Stephen Vogt (OAK) – .327/.426/.645, 9 HR, 30 RBI. This is easily the widest gap at any position right now. Vogt leads all AL C in every significant offensive stat. And, in many cases, it isn’t even close (136 point lead in OPS!!). Russell Martin is having a really good year, and is actually 2nd to Vogt in everything but batting. But, the gap is going to be tough to close over the next 6 weeks. Longshot to keep an eye on: Salvador Perez (KC).
NL – Miguel Montero (CHC) – .313/.430/.500, 4 HR, 15 RBI. Leads all NL C in OBP, SLG and OPS. He’s also 2nd in HR and batting. Just a notch behind him is Yasmani Grandal (2nd in OBP, SLG, OPS & HR), and then a step behind Grandal is Buster Posey (who leads the league in HR). Some want to use defense as a decisive stat at this position, but at this point in the season, no one is standing out in an especially good or bad way. Perhaps that will become more apparent as the season wears on. Longshot to keep an eye on: Derek Norris (SD).
AL – Michael Brantley (CLE), Josh Reddick (OAK), Mike Trout (LAA). Brantley leads all AL OF in batting, OBP, SLG and OPS. Reddick is 2nd only to Brantley in SLG and OPS, and leads all OF in RBI. Trout leads all OF in HR, and is 3rd in SLG and OPS. Adam Jones is 4th in OPS, and makes for a nice competitor. Chris Young and Avisail Garcia are also worthy of mention. Longshot to keep an eye on: J.D. Martinez (DET).
NL – Bryce Harper (WSH), Andre Ethier (LAD), Justin Upton (SD). Harper is absolutely on fire. He leads the entire league (not just OF) in HR, RBI, BB, TB, OBP, SLG and OPS. He also leads NL OF in batting. But, after Harper, the decision-making gets tough. There are several candidates worth considering, depending on which stat you want to emphasize. In the end, I chose OPS, and these are the top 3 OPS’s in the NL OF right now. Some guys, like Giancarlo Stanton, are crushing the ball . . . if they make contact (just a .329 OBP, and an alarming 31.7% K-rate). Others, like Matt Holiday, are getting on base all the time, but fall short in the power numbers (just 3 HR). But, just a slight uptick in one area, and they could make me change my vote. Others I considered were Joc Pederson, Denard Span and Starling Marte. Longshot to keep an eye on: Mark Trumbo (ARI).
AL – Nelson Cruz (SEA) – .340/.395/.694, 15 HR, 30 RBI. He leads all DH in every category but OBP (Prince Fielder – .401). No one is within 100 points of him in OPS. The only category that’s close, other than OBP, is RBI, which he’s tied with Kendrys Morales for the lead. Alex Rodriguez is having a nice year, but it lags far behind Cruz. And, even though he’s currently 2nd among DH’s in OPS . . . longshot to keep an eye on: Jimmy Paredes (BAL).