Here are my All-Star picks for the 2016 MLB All-Star Game. The game is on July 12 at PETCO Park in San Diego, California.
Catcher: Wilson Ramos, Washington Nationals; 2.3 fWAR (2nd)
Ramos has had a fantastic season this year, being a force in the Nationals’ lineup. Good hitting catchers are hard to come by, and considering he’s been above-average defensively as well, it makes this selection a no-brainer.
First Base: Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks; 2.9 fWAR (2nd)
Goldschmidt actually ranks second in fWAR at first base to the Padres’ Wil Myers (by just 0.1), but Goldschmidt is better where it counts. He has a higher wRC+, wOBA and OPS than Myers, proving his prowess at a position where hitting rules. He’s an all-pro off-the-field too, taking the time to sign for me when I recognized him in New York in 2013. It’s hard not to like “Goldy.”
Second Base: Daniel Murphy, Washington Nationals; 3.4 fWAR (1st)
The coolest thing about Murphy is that he carried a .390 batting average as late as Jun. 1 this year. The Nationals’ offseason signing had a .400 batting average as late as May 15. Murphy’s weakness has always been his defense, but he’s so much better than the rest of the National League second basemen it doesn’t really matter.
Third Base: Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies; 3.4 fWAR (2nd)
Arenado was leading all third basemen in fWAR for the longest time this season, but after Kris Bryant went 5-for-5 with three home runs, he fell into second. But even after Bryant’s three-homer game, Arenado is still tied for the lead in home runs by NL third basemen and has the second-highest OPS. Even with all this great offense, Arenado is still the best defensive third baseman in the league. All-Star.
Shortstop: Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers; 3.5 fWAR (1st)
Seager has definitely lived up to the hype he had as a prospect. The Dodgers’ shortstop might not lead NL shortstop in many individual categories, but his overall game is what makes him the best. Like Arenado, he’s great on both sides of the ball and that’s why he’s worth a half more win above replacement over second-place Brandon Crawford.
Outfield: Yoenis Cespedes, New York Mets; 2.0 fWAR (9th)
This selection is probably more of a head-scratcher than the others. Cespedes has been worth the lowest fWAR of any All-Star pick in either league, but I voted for him because I’m a sucker for offense. His outfield defense is well below-average, but I’m willing to overlook that for Cespedes, who has the second-highest wRC+ and offensive runs above average among NL outfielders. He’s also carried the Mets offense as best he can, and I think that deserves some weight.
Outfield: Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals; 2.9 fWAR (4th)
Possibly another interesting decision based purely on the statistics, but it’s hard to argue keeping Harper out of a starting All-Star spot, especially considering he’s done what he can with the pitches he’s gotten. Despite his .258 average, Harper has an outfielder-leading .403 OBP after drawing 62 walks, 21 more than second-place (Odubel Herrera, 41).
Outfield: Marcell Ozuna, Miami Marlins; 3.3 fWAR (1st)
When I say that Cespedes is second among NL outfielders in wRC+ and offensive runs above average, he’s second to this guy right here. Giancarlo Stanton might get all the press down in Miami, but Ozuna’s been playing the best, hitting for a phenomenal .319/.372/.564 slash-line. The three legs rank fourth, ninth, and fourth among NL outfielders. He’s a phenomenal hitter, and unfortunately, not many people have taken notice.
Starting pitcher: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers; 5.5 fWAR (1st)
If he can’t go, that’ll be really disappointing. But Kershaw is the obvious choice to be the starter.
Catcher: Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals; 2.3 fWAR (1st)
There isn’t any catcher in the American League that is even close to Perez on either side of the ball. He had some down years offensively in 2014 and 2015, but this season he’s playing his best yet. Perez has an .838 OPS and a 119 wRC+, both of which lead American League catchers by wide margins. Like Ramos in the NL, he’s a no brainer.
First Base: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers; 1.8 fWAR (3rd)
Cabrera might not be the most valuable American League first basemen, but he’s my choice for the All-Star Game purely based on his bat. “Miggy” leads AL first basemen in on-base percentage and slugging percentage, while being a close second in batting average. The reason he isn’t first in fWAR is due to his defense, but no qualified AL first baseman has been above average defensively anyway. Some are just “less worse” than others.
Second Base: Jose Altuve, Houston Astros; 4.4 fWAR (1st)
There’s no player in the American League that even comes close to Altuve’s production level. He’s so good in all aspects of the game and could be on pace for a 30-30 season if his home run numbers tick up the slightest bit. He has a ridiculous 1.004 OPS and a 166 wRC+, all while providing the third-best defense among qualified AL second basemen. His counting stats are great too, hitting 13 home runs and stealing 21 bases.
Third Base: Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles; 4.2 fWAR (2nd)
Machado might be second in WAR, but that might actually come down to his base running, which is 2.6 runs behind WAR-leader Josh Donaldson. Machado leads in two more important categories, offense and defense, making him the natural selection at third base in the AL. Machado has had a great season, playing both short and third this year, while leading the Orioles’ offensive attack.
Shortstop: Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox; 3.9 fWAR (1st)
Since I am considering Machado a third baseman, and he is on the ballot as a third baseman, Xander Bogaerts is the AL’s best true shortstop. He leads shortstops in wRC+ and is third in defensive runs above average. Bogaerts leads AL shortstops in all three legs of the traditional slash line: batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage.
Outfield: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels; 4.9 fWAR (1st)
Can you imagine an All-Star Game without Mike Trout starting? Neither can I.
Outfield: Ian Desmond, Texas Rangers; 3.9 fWAR (2nd)
Desmond latched on with the Rangers this offseason on a one-year, $8 million deal, and it could possibly be the best $8 million the team has ever spent. He’s having an offensive revival in the outfield in Texas, posting numbers that are actually better than his numbers while being one of the best offensive second basemen while in Washington. Desmond has his highest single-season average and appears to be on-pace to set career-highs in home runs, stolen bases, RBI, and WAR.
Outfield: Jackie Bradley Jr., Boston Red Sox; 3.1 fWAR (3rd)
Bradley Jr. is known best for his 29-game hit streak from the end of April to the end of May, but in all reality, he’s been a really great player overall. Bradley has a 144 wRC+, has been worth 0.5 defensive runs above average, and has been worth almost three runs on the base paths. This overall game makes him deserving of an All-Star start.
Designated Hitter: David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox; 3.1 fWAR (1st)
Ortiz is 40 years old, and by wRC+, he’s having the best offensive season of his career. Ortiz does not play defense, so there’s not much else to evaluate him on, but his .336/.431/.672 slash line does most of the talking for itself.
Starting Pitcher: Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox; 2.7 fWAR (3rd)
I don’t know, man. This was one of the harder decisions. I decided to hand the ball to Chris Sale not because he was the most valuable pitcher in the American League (obviously, he is up there), but because more due to the traditional stats. Sale has a 2.79 ERA, fourth among AL starters but backs it up with a 19.4 K-BB%, sixth-highest among AL starters, and highest among the three starters in front of him for the ERA crown. Sale also has the lowest WHIP in the AL. All this together, I decide to give him the nod.
**All stats as of games played before June 30, 2016**