Selecting the MLB All-Star Rosters at the first half’s midway point

by Rocco Constantino | Posted on Monday, May 28th, 2018
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Memorial Day Weekend signals the unofficial start of the summer and also usually falls roughly at the MLB’s halfway point of the season’s first half.  The season has seen it’s share of unexpected stars, typical performances from some of the game’s biggest stars and a handful of veterans who have turned back the clock for some vintage performances.

With many teams crossing the 50-game threshold in their schedule this past week, it provides a good sample size when trying to sort out which players might hang around as All-Stars and MVP or Cy Young candidates while others saw their fast starts dwindle to much more pedestrian stats.

With this good sample size in place and the All-Star Game about 50 more games away, here’s a look at how the All-Star Game rosters should be constructed if the game was held tomorrow.   Construction of these rosters follows the same rules as the actual midsummer classic as all teams are represented, 34 total players are selected for each team and designated hitters will be in each starting lineup despite the fact the game is being played in Washington.

American League Starters

Catcher: Gary Sanchez (New York Yankees)

Sanchez should get the nod for his second straight All-Star Game as his production is at a similar pace as his fantastic 2017 season.  Although his batting average is .044 points off of his career standard, Sanchez is still hands-down the best offensive player at an otherwise weak position.

First Base: Jose Abreu (Chicago White Sox)

Another surprisingly thin position, Abreu gets the start over CJ Cron in a close race.  While Cron has a slight edge in power statistics, Abreu is batting .035 points higher than Cron and has him beat in OPS as well.  The depth of this position is hindered by Miguel Cabrera and Mitch Moreland not having played the full compliment of games.

Second Base: Jose Altuve (Houston Astros)

Altuve has become a mainstay of the midsummer classic and will have no problem earning a spot on the roster for the sixth time in seven full seasons.  As of now, the starting job is a lot closer than it has been here in recent years as Jed Lowrie’s performance is nearly identical to Altuve’s.  Altuve’s average has been lower than what we come to expect, but his 10-straight hits this week remind us that his greatness is not fading out anytime soon.

Shortstop: Manny Machado (Baltimore Orioles)

Machado leads the way in perhaps the most stacked position in the major leagues.  As many as six shortstops could rightfully claim a spot on the roster, but Machado is the clear leader of the group over Lindor.  Machoado’s season has been so  good both offensively and defensively that he likely will receive MVP consideration on a team that has no chance at the postseason.

Third Base: Jose Ramirez (Cleveland Indians)

While Lindor misses out on a starting spot, his counterpart on the left side of the Indians infield does not.  Ramirez leads all American League third basemen in home runs, RBIs and OPS while striking out just 20 times on the season.

Outfield: Mookie Betts (Boston Red Sox)

Betts has been the best player in baseball on baseball’s best team.  Yes, the metrics surrounding baserunning and defense say that Mike Trout has his own case as the best player in the world, but with Betts batting nearly .070 points higher than Trout while topping him in most offensive categories, this one goes to Betts.

Outfield: Mike Trout (Los Angeles Angels)

Trout is having another insane season, even by his standards.  For all those people over the past 60 years who have wondered what it would have been like if Mickey Mantle took care of himself and didn’t have bad knees, Trout is the answer (batting only righty not withstanding).  He is on another planet and is well on his way to an inner-circle Hall of Fame career.  This will be the seventh straight All-Star Game in Trout’s seven full seasons.

Outfield: Aaron Judge (New York Yankees)

Judge isn’t having the type of season he had last year, but he’s not far off.  He has proven that he is able to maintain a productive batting average to go along with his otherworldly power and ranks third among AL outfielders in OPS.

Designated Hitter: JD Martinez (Boston Red Sox)

Martinez had to wait a while to sign as a free agent this offseason and if he was upset by that, he is certainly taking that anger out on pitchers across the game.  Martinez has been an MVP candidate, batting .320 with his ancillary offensive stats right up there with Betts and Trout.

Starting Pitcher: Justin Verlander (Houston Astros)

Verlander was an incredible pickup for the Astros last year and has remarkably been even better the start of the 2018 season.  His 1.08 and 0.71 WHIP are insane by any standards, let alone for someone who looked to be hitting the down slope of his career just three years ago.  Instead, Verlander is the early leader in the AL Cy Young race and should garner his his first All-Star appearance since 2013.

American League Reserves

Catcher: Wilson Ramos (Tampa Bay Rays)

Catcher: Salvador Perez (Kansas City Royals)

Ramos has been excellent in Tampa, batting .305 while coming in second, just behind Sanchez in OPS for catchers.  Perez overcame what could have been a catastrophic injury to have his typical outstanding season.  He’s playing his usual stellar defense while producing at the plate.

First Base: CJ Cron (Tampa Bay Rays)

Cron has been an outstanding find for the Rays and in a thin class, would edge out Albert Pujols for the reserve spot at first.  Pujols may get one more sentimental selection though as this could be his last opportunity to be an All-Star.  Mitch Moreland could make a push here as well as he figures to gain more playing time with Hanley Ramirez gone.

Second Base: Jed Lowrie (Oakland A’s)

With the way Jose Altuve has played in recent years, it’s incredible to think anyone could challenge him for his starting spot, let alone Jed Lowrie.  The 11-year veteran is looking for his first All-Star appearance and if he can continue his current pace, seems like a good bet to make the squad.  Lowrie’s stats are nearly identical to Altuve’s across the board and he tops Altuve in OPS .885-.770.  One wrinkle could be Gleyber Torres who has played just 22 games since being called up, but has lit the league on fire.

Shortstop: Francisco Lindor (Cleveland Indians)

Shortstop: Andrelton Simmons (Los Angeles Angels)

The AL shortstop class includes Machado, Lindor, Simmons, Jean Segura, Marcus Semien and Carlos Correa, any of whom could make a case for being a part of this team.  Lindor should be a lock and the hope is that Simmons could also find his way on the team.  Simmons has never made an All-Star team despite being arguably the best defensive player in baseball at times.  His .330 average has him as a legitimate threat to make the squad this year.

Third Base: Yangervis Solarte (Toronto Blue Jays)

Third Base: Mike Moustakas (Kansas City Royals)

Third base in the American League is top heavy as there is a big drop off in production after the top two or three players.  While Ramirez is in a class of his own here, Moustakas and Solarte have had excellent seasons.  Solarte would make this team as the Blue Jays sole representative.

Outfield: Michael Brantley (Cleveland Indians)

Outfield: George Springer (Houston Astros)

Outfield: Nick Castellanos (Detroit Tigers)

Outfield: Nomar Mazara (Texas Rangers)

Mazara and Castellanos make the squad as their teams’ only representatives, but they aren’t charity cases by any means.  Mazara looks to be realizing his potential while Castellanos is taking over for an aging and injured Miguel Cabrera as the face of the Tigers.  Springer remains one of the great physical freaks of the game and Brantley is having an incredible bounce-back season after playing just 101 combined games the past two years.

DH/Pitcher: Shohei Ohtani (Los Angeles Angels)

Ohtani is in a category by himself on this list, which mirrors his performance through the first 50 games of his major league career.  There may be a better case made for some others, but who wouldn’t want to see him showcased here?

American League Pitchers

Gerrit Cole (Houston Astros)

Corey Kluber (Cleveland Indians)

Luis Severino (New York Yankees)

Charlie Morton (Houston Astros)

Edwin Diaz (Seattle Mariners)

Craig Kimbrel (Boston Red Sox)

Chris Sale (Boston Red Sox)

Trevor Bauer (Cleveland Indians)

Jose Berrios (Minnesota Twins)

Kelvin Herrera (Kansas City Royals)

It’s been a light year in the American League for relief pitchers, but luckily there is fantastic depth in the starting rotation.  Cole and Morton join Verlander as three-fifths of the Astros tremendous rotation makes this squad easily.  Kluber has been his usual dominant self and has partnered with Bauer to form a formidable 1-2 punch.  Sale and Severino have been remarkable as well and any of the starters on this squad would have a solid case to start the game if not for the historic performance Verlander has thrown out there.

The young Diaz has been toiling somewhat in obscurity in Seattle, but looks to make the jump to the national stage after a great start to the season.  Just 24 years old, Diaz has a microscopic 0.684 WHIP and is tied with Wade Davis for the Major League lead with 18 saves.  Kimbrel and Herrera remain two of the most consistent and intimidating relievers in the game.

 

National League Starters

Catcher: Buster Posey (San Francisco Giants)

Posey continues to pad his Cooperstown resume with what should be his sixth All-Star Game selection this year.  His .297 average ranks just below JT Realmuto and he has been a big reason why the Giants have outperformed most projections thus far.  Francisco Cervelli, Realmuto, Wilson Contreras and Yasmani Grandal can also secure this spot with a strong couple of months.

First Base: Freddie Freeman (Atlanta Braves)

Freeman gets the nod in a tight call over Jesus Aguilar, Brandon Belt, Matt Adams and Jose Martinez.  Freeman has been remarkably consistent and this year is batting .030 points higher than his career average and leads the National League with a .425 on base percentage.

Second Base: Ozzie Albies (Atlanta Braves)

Albies is one of the best stories in the majors through 50 games as the 21-year-old has flashed absolutely eye-popping ability.  He leads the National League with 45 runs and 120 total bases while belting 14 home runs and batting .285.  He is a big part of the reason the Braves have been one of the surprise teams in the majors.

Shortstop: Brandon Crawford (San Francisco Giants)

The winner of the last three Gold Gloves at shortstop in the National League, Crawford is batting .050 points higher than his career average while also on pace to set a career-high in OPS.  He and Trea Turner have been the two best shortstops in the NL thus far.

Third Base: Nolan Arenado (Colorado Rockies)

Arenado’s power numbers have been down slightly this year, but he is batting .030 points higher than his career average.  His defense, as usual, has been consistently jaw-dropping.  He and Kris Bryant haven’t put up the video-game numbers we expect from them, but they are still both the head of the class for third basemen in the majors.

Outfield: Bryce Harper (Washington Nationals)

Outfield: Nick Markakis (Atlanta Braves)

Outfield: Odubel Herrera (Philadelphia Phillies)

Harper is batting just .231, but he leads all NL outfielders with 15 home runs and 36 RBIs.  His .909 OPS is good for third among NL outfielders who have played 45 games.  Markakis and Herrera are MVP candidates through the first 50 games of the year and are huge reasons the Phillies and Braves are the two teams atop the NL East.  Markakis .347 batting average is perhaps the most shocking stat in the National League thus far.

Designated Hitter: Brandon Belt (San Francisco Giants)

Belt gets the call as the NL designated hitter against the righty Verlander.  He has had a solid career, but this year is on pace to pass most of his career highs in almost every offensive category.  Bryant, Matt Kemp, Jesus Aguilar and Pollock could also lay claim to this spot.

Starting Pitcher: Max Scherzer (Washington Nationals)

Scherzer gets the start in his home ballpark in a tight race.  Scherzer is one of five starting National League pitchers who are carrying a WHIP under 1.00 who have made at least 10 starts.  Patrick Corbin, Jacob deGrom and Aaron Nola would be outstanding choices to start too, but Scherzer, who leads the NL in strikeouts and wins, edges them all out.

National League Reserves

Catcher: Francisco Cervelli (Pittsburgh Pirates)

Catcher: JT Realmuto (Miami Marlins)

It’s great to see Cervelli off to a fantastic start.  He has been a solid role player who has turned into a veteran leader and is enjoying his best season.  He already has tied his career high with seven home runs and is just 13 RBIs away from his career high there.  In a season where offensive statistics from catchers are borderline putrid, Cervelli and Realmuto stand out.  Realmuto has only played 33 games to this point in the season, which is the only thing keeping him from starting.  He is the best all-around catcher in the National League and by the time the All-Star game comes along, he very well could be the starter.

First Base: Jesus Aguilar (Milwaukee Brewers)

Aguilar had a fine season last year in his first full-time role at the age of 26.  He upgraded his performance this year and leads all NL first basemen with a .325 average on Memorial Day.  He’s also more than half way to his career high in home runs and RBIs and is one of the leaders on a scary and underrated Brewers roster.

Second Base: Javier Baez (Chicago Cubs)

Second Base: Scooter Gennett (Cincinnati Reds)

Gennett has a good case to start as the leading hitter in the National League, but is edged out by the exciting Albies, who leads the NL in total bases and runs.  Either way, it looks like the 27 home runs and 97 RBIs Gennett put up last year were not a fluke.  Baez has been on the cusp of breaking out as a star and appears to have taken a step forward this year.  Baez leads the NL with 42 RBIs and has shown great power with 13 home runs, five triples and nine doubles.  He has made strides in OPS and slugging percentage in his age 25 season.

Shortstop: Trea Turner (Washington Nationals)

With all the tools Turner has, it’s hard to believe that Turner hasn’t made an All-Star game yet at the age of 25.  He should break that trend this year in his home ballpark.  His offensive stats across the board rate among the top three in the NL and with Corey Seager on the shelf and the game being played in Washington, Turner should be a lock for the roster, barring a crippling slump.

Third Base: Kris Bryant (Chicago Cubs)

Third Base: Travis Shaw (Milwaukee Brewers)

It’s a tough call between Bryant and Arenado for the starting bid, and it figures to be for the next decade.  Arenado edges Bryant out by a slight margin in nearly every category.  However, Bryant’s all-around terrific season shouldn’t be overlooked.  Shaw had a breakout season in his first year in Milwaukee and has carried that over into 2018.  His power numbers are on his 2017 pace and he has increased his walk rate, which balances out his slight drop in batting average.

Outfield: AJ Pollock (Arizona Diamondbacks)

Outfield: Matt Kemp (Los Angeles Dodgers)

Outfield: Corey Dickerson (Pittsburgh Pirates)

It’s a surprisingly thin year for National League outfielders and with Pollock on the shelf for the past two weeks, the field could get even thinner.  Kemp has been a revelation in his return to Los Angeles and his batting average is over .300 for the first time since 2012.  His .333 average is fourth in the National League.  An All Star for the first time last season as a member of the Rays, Dickerson could find his way onto the NL squad this year.  He is batting .310, which in a light year, could be enough for him to make the team.

National League Pitchers

Jacob deGrom (New York Mets)

Gio Gonzalez (Washington Nationals)

Miles Mikolas (St. Louis Cardinals)

Carlos Martinez (St. Louis Cardinals)

Patrick Corbin (Arizona Diamondbacks)

Josh Hader (Milwaukee Brewers)

Jeremy Jeffress (Milwaukee Brewers)

Adam Ottavino (Colorado Rockies)

Wade Davis (Colorado Rockies)

Brad Hand (San Diego Padres)

Sean Doolittle (Washington Nationals)

If Scherzer falters in the coming months. any of deGrom, Corbin, or Mikolas could make a strong case to jump into his place.  They have been outstanding all season.  Gonzalez has continued the success he had in 2017 and is pitching his best ball since his 21-win 2012 season.  His 2.32 ERA would be a career-low if he maintains it.  DeGrom paces the National League with a 1.50 ERA while Corbin tops the league with a 0.894 WHIP.  Mikolas has come out of nowhere to team with Martinez to give the Cardinals two strong starters at the top of their rotation.  Mostly a career minor leaguer with just 10 previous starts in his career, Mikolas is 6-0 with a 2.58 ERA and is the only National League starter to average less than one walk per nine innings.

Unlike the American League, the National League has a wealth of dominant relievers this year with the Brewers tandem of Jeffress and Hader leading the way.  Jeffress has allowed just one earned run in 28 innings this year and is sporting a 0.68 WHIP.  He has appeared in 27 games and sports an 0.32 ERA.  Hand has arguably been better, in 31.1 innings his ERA is slightly higher at 1.15 with a minuscule 0.57 WHIP.  Batters are hitting just .081 against Hader, the lowest mark among relievers.  Ottavino is the only other reliever on the same level as Jeffress and Hader and is doing his work in Colorado, which is even more impressive.  He has logged 28 innings and has a 0.95 ERA, a 0.64 WHIP and a .092 batting average against.

Davis leads the National League with 18 saves and Hand is close behind with 16.  Doolittle has been his typically fantastic self, but is pitching to a sub-2.00 ERA for the first time in his career.  The lefty has a great shot to make his second All-Star Game as his 0.54 WHIP leads the National League.

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Rocco Constantino
About the Author

Rocco is the author of 50 Moments That Defined Major League Baseball (Available on Amazon now!) and former Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report. He is also a die hard Mets fan going back to the awful early 80's and ready for the revival. D2 NCAA softball coach and athletics administrator. Follow Rocco on Twitter @mlb100years.







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