On Sunday, Major League Baseball will announce its All-Star teams, a combination of fan voting, player ballots and league picks. There will be questionable choices. There will be snubs. There will be 62 names, with two more to come from the Final Vote and even more via injury and pitching replacements. Those are the teams you’ll see July 17 in Washington, D.C.
These are the teams you should see.
C: Wilson Ramos, Tampa Bay – When you can start off the All-Star rosters with a player who has grounded into 17 double plays in the first half of the season, you just gotta do it.
1B: Mitch Moreland, Boston – The first two starting spots on the American League All-Star team belong to Wilson Ramos and Mitch Moreland. Stay hot, 2018.
2B: Jose Altuve, Houston – OK, this is a little more like it.
SS: Francisco Lindor, Cleveland – Fine, a lot more like it.
3B: Jose Ramirez, Cleveland – Little-realized fact: Ramirez has an average on balls in play of just .276, meaning if luck tilts back on his side, he’s going to be even better … and he’s already on pace for the highest single-season WAR total by a third baseman ever.
OF: Mike Trout, Los Angeles – He’s been even better than Ramirez.
OF: Mookie Betts, Boston – More or less identical to Trout, only with 19 fewer games because of injuries.
OF: Aaron Judge, New York – He’d be the clear-cut favorite to win MVP in the National League. In the AL, he’s something like the fifth-best player.
DH: J.D. Martinez, Boston – Next to Trout and Betts, he’s been the best hitter in baseball – and easily the best free agent bargain.
C: Max Stassi, Houston – He will not be an All-Star in real life, but some guy on the internet says he warrants a spot, so at least he’s got that going for him.
1B: Jose Abreu, Chicago – This deserved to go to Oakland’s Matt Olson, but the rules state that every major league team must be represented. Yes, the White Sox are still technically a major league team.
2B: Whit Merrifield, Kansas City – So are the Royals.
SS: Manny Machado, Baltimore – And the Orioles. Except unlike the previous two, Machado would’ve made it the team regardless of team.
SS: Andrelton Simmons, Los Angeles – Sorry, Jean Segura, but Simmons is a similar hitter with a far better glove at shortstop.
3B: Matt Chapman, Oakland – Sorry, Matt Olson and Jed Lowrie – whose spots were taken by Abreu and Merrifield – but the last slot on the team goes to an A’s teammate with the best third-base glove this side of Nolan Arenado.
3B: Alex Bregman, Houston – The King of the Walkoff in 2018 has some heady company – Wilmer Flores and Luke Maile – with three apiece this season.
OF: Eddie Rosario, Minnesota – Back-to-back Yahoo Sports MLB Podcast guests making the All-Star team. Coincidence? Yes. Yes, it is.
OF: Nick Castellanos, Detroit – Considering how he plays the outfield, he’d have made a great starting first baseman.
OF: Mitch Haniger, Seattle – Apologies to Andrew Benintendi, but the numbers are practically identical, and Haniger hits in a much tougher park.
DH: Shin-Soo Choo, Texas – With a $130 million deal, he is the highest-paid player never to make an All-Star team. This year should change that.
SP: Luis Severino, New York – Best pitcher in the AL so far.
SP: Trevor Bauer, Cleveland – Best podcast guest in the AL so far.
SP: Justin Verlander, Houston – Surprising fact: He hasn’t been an All-Star in five years.
SP: Chris Sale, Boston – The All-Star break is typically the worst time of the year for him. His career ERA is nearly 0.60 higher in the second half.
SP: Gerrit Cole, Houston – The pitcher of April was excellent in May, OK in June and meh during his first outing of July. Trends notwithstanding, he earned this spot.
SP: Corey Kluber, Cleveland – All-Star Version 3.0 of everyone’s favorite animatronic pitching machine.
SP: Blake Snell, Tampa Bay – In two-thirds of his 18 starts this season, Snell has allowed zero or one run. Only one other player has done the same.
SP: J.A. Happ, Toronto – That other player is definitely not J.A. Happ, who is here because the Blue Jays need an All-Star.
SP: Charlie Morton, Houston – Went back and forth between him and James Paxton. Morton walks more guys, Paxton pitches in a pitchers’ park, Morton is a righty, Paxton is a lefty. Otherwise pretty much same dude, and Morton on the backside of his career, sentiment took over.
RP: Edwin Diaz, Seattle – He is on pace to throw in 83 games, which would be the most for a closer since Billy Koch threw in 84 in 2002. He was out of baseball three years later.
RP: Blake Treinen, Oakland – Lots of strikeouts, limited walks and nobody can homer off him. The 0.84 ERA is no fluke.
RP: Aroldis Chapman, New York – Back to his old, unhittable self, with hitters striking out in more than half their at-bats against him.
C: J.T. Realmuto, Miami – The most underrated player in baseball. A true star for whom the Marlins rightfully would ask the moon in a trade.
1B: Freddie Freeman, Atlanta – He’s not underrated anymore so much as he is underappreciated. As the Braves ascend, he may be to them what Kent Hrbek was to the 1987 and ’91 Twins.
2B: Scooter Gennett, Cincinnati – Last year, it was all funny when Gennett hit four home runs in a game and everyone got to say Scooter. Now we know it was just a warning sign for the unlikeliest offensive breakout in the game.
SS: Brandon Crawford, San Francisco – At the end of April, he was slashing .189/.237/.300. Since then, he’s hitting .359/.426/.578. Arbitrary endpoints, shmarbitrary endpoints. That’s good.
3B: Nolan Arenado, Colorado – Just a reminder that arguably the best baseball player in the NL – and the current league leader in WAR – will be a free agent at 28 years old following the 2019 season.
OF: Nick Markakis, Atlanta – A reminder that the elderly, although slow and dangerous behind the wheel, can serve a purpose.
OF: Lorenzo Cain, Milwaukee – He’s a singular player: athletic and strong, with great defensive instinct and speed in center field, plus on-base and bat-to-ball skills, and yet without the home run power that would make him MVP. Oh well. He’ll have to settle for All-Star starter.
OF: Brandon Nimmo, New York – Look, I’m as surprised as you are. A blighted NL outfield landscape combined with a real breakout makes real and justified.
C: Willson Contreras, Chicago – Slowly climbing the ranks of famous Wil(l)sons. Has leapt Mookie, C.J., Brian (baseball), Rainn, Owen. Continues to chase Russell, Rebel, Hack, Brian (music), Woodrow and, of course, the king of all Wilsons, the Volleyball.
C: Francisco Cervelli, Pittsburgh – While it’s true the Pirates don’t have anyone else, Cervelli has earned a spot on the NL team, even in a crowded landscape.
1B: Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona – Remember when he was too old and his bat had slowed down? Yeah, me either.
1B: Jesus Aguilar, Milwaukee – By the end of the 2016 season, Aguilar looked like a 4A bat destined to spend his career in the upper reaches of the minors. Now he’s got the fourth-best OPS in the NL.
2B: Ozzie Albies, Atlanta – The 21-year-old is on pace for 93 extra-base hits. Only one second baseman ever has reached that threshold: Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby, one of the greatest hitters ever, did it when he was 26 and 33.
SS: Trea Turner, Washington – He’s the Lorenzo Cain of the infield. Speed, defense, on-base acumen and enough power to keep pitchers honest.
3B: Eugenio Suarez, Cincinnati – Between thieving Gennett for nothing off waivers and parlaying Alfredo Simon’s All-Star season into a trade for Suarez, the Reds have checked off a few items on the rebuilding to-do list. If only they had even one reliable starter.
OF: Kyle Schwarber, Chicago – The Large Adult Son of MLB is striking out far less, walking far more and hitting tanks like he always does. Bonus: He’s acquitting himself in the field (though the notion that he’s been better there than Trout, Betts and even teammate Jason Heyward strikes neither scouts nor quantitative analysts with clubs as correct).
OF: Christian Yelich, Milwaukee – He may never be much more than a guy who hits .290/.370/.450, and that’s a wonderful complementary player on a championship team. In a year like this, it’s good enough to be an All-Star.
OF: Matt Kemp, Los Angeles, – Just like they planned: The Dodgers’ resurgence, led by Matt Kemp, Joc Pederson and …
UT: Max Muncy, Los Angeles – Someone needs to do a remake of “Brass Monkey” with Max Muncy.
UT: Javier Baez, Chicago – Please create an All-Star Game skills competition so Baez can sweep tag and swim slide on demand.
SP: Max Scherzer, Washingon – The best, full stop.
SP: Jacob deGrom, New York – In six June starts, he allowed 11 runs and struck out 49 against nine walks. His team lost five of those games. Mets gonna Mets.
SP: Aaron Nola, Philadelphia – The Big Easy has stayed healthy and turned into the kind of pitcher the Phillies gladly would throw in a one-game wild-card setting.
SP: Patrick Corbin, Arizona – The velocity that was present for the first six starts of his season simply hasn’t returned. Even without the extra mph or two, he’s still striking out more than 10.6 per nine and adding dollars to a boffo free agent payout this winter.
SP: Miles Mikolas, St. Louis – I reserve the right to remove him from this team if he does not grow back his resplendent mustache.
SP: Jon Lester, Chicago – His ERA is 2.25. His FIP is 4.16. Even if he has benefitted from the Cubs’ exemplary defensive positioning, his performance thus far should make him a five-time All-Star – and add to the great value the Cubs are getting out of his $155 million deal.
SP: Mike Foltynewicz, Atlanta – Among Folty, Sean Newcomb, Julio Teheran, Brandon McCarthy, the resurgent Anibal Sanchez and a rotating cast of talented kids – Luiz Gohara, Mike Soroka, Max Fried, the almost-ready Kolby Allard and Touki Toussaint – the Braves are good now and are going to be very good for a long while.
SP: Ross Stripling. Los Angeles – Surely you had Ross Stripling making the All-Star team over Clayton Kershaw, too.
RP: Josh Hader, Milwaukee – Hitters are 15 for 144 with 83 strikeouts against Hader this season.
RP: Sean Doolittle, Washington – His command exemplary, his repertoire Bartolish (89 percent fastballs), Doolittle is what he’s always been, only even better this year.
RP: Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles – Since he blew his second save of the year in mid-April, Jansen has been Jansen, sniping fools with his cutter. The strikeouts are down, and that doesn’t portend well long-term, but this year he’s managing just fine nonetheless.
RP: Kirby Yates, San Diego – This Kirby does not swallow others and inherit their powers. He just throws high heat, low splitters and has the best ERA in baseball (0.79) among pitchers with at least 30 innings.
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