Kansan Predicts: 2017 MLB All-Star Game Starters
The Midsummer Classic is vastly approaching.
Marlins Park will be the scene of the 88th MLB All-Star Game on July 11th in Miami.
With the game arriving in the coming weeks, Kansan sports editor Wesley Dotson and sports writer Shaun Goodwin have provided predictions of which players they believe will start at each position for their respective league.
American League All-Star Starter Predictions
Shaun Goodwin | @ShaunGoodwinUDK
Catcher — Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals
There won’t be many arguments about this one.
The four-time Golden Glove award winner and 2015 World Series MVP will be heading to his fifth-straight All-Star game. With a .289 batting average, Perez has the most home runs (16) and RBIs (48) of all catchers in the American League.
On the defensive end, Perez holds a .998 fielding percentage and has allowed 30 stolen bases in 2017. He has also caught 14 runners attempting to steal. Those three categories rank within the top three in the AL.
Honorable mention: Brian McCann, Houston Astros
First Base — Justin Smoak, Toronto Blue Jays
There are two players who have very strong arguments to be the starting first baseman in this year’s All-Star Game at Marlins Park: the Kansas City Royals’ Eric Hosmer and the Toronto Blue Jays’ Justin Smoak.
Although the odds look favored toward Hosmer returning to his hometown as the reigning All-Star MVP, I believe that Smoak should be the man starting at first base. Just like Hosmer’s Royals, Smoak’s Blue Jays struggled throughout April, entering May with a record of 7-16. Since then, the Blue Jays have rallied to a record of 36-40, with Smoak boasting a WAR of 2.3.
He has also hit 21 home runs and 49 RBIs in 32 less at-bats than Hosmer, both of which trump Hosmer’s nine homers and 32 RBIs.
Honorable mention: Eric Hosmer, Kansas City Royals
Second Base — Jose Altuve, Houston Astros
Houston Astros’ Jose Altuve will be looking to head to his fifth — and third-straight — All-Star Game, behind an impressive .327 batting average and 14 stolen bases in 2017.
A vital part of 2017’s hottest team, Altuve has the second-most hits in the American League this year with 98 in 300 at-bats. Altuve has also scored 51 runs in 2017, the second-most in the AL, as well a WAR of 3.7, the third-best in the AL.
Honorable mention: Jonathan Schoop, Baltimore Orioles
Third Base — Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians
This was a tough decision, with the starting position possibly going to several players. Cleveland Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez and Minnesota Twins third baseman Miguel Sanó are two front runners for me, as well as the Royals’ Mike Moustakas certainly having reason to call for an outside chance.
Ramirez’s .321 batting average is a huge standout, the fourth-best average in the AL this season. His average consists of 94 hits (third-best in AL), 25 doubles (tied for second-best in AL) and four triples (best in AL). On the defensive end, he has the best fielding percentage at third base in the AL (.973), turning in a total of 18 double plays in 2017.
In comparison, although Sanó beats out Ramirez in home runs (18) and RBIs (53), Sanó has 105 strikeouts in 2017, leading to a slugging percentage of .539, a little lower than Ramirez’s .556.
Taking all of this into consideration, although Sanó may contribute more on the offensive end with his homers and RBIs, Ramirez is more effective both at the plate and in the field, giving him the edge.
Honorable mention: Mike Moustakas, Kansas City Royals and Miguel Sanó, Minnesota Twins
Shortstop — Carlos Correa, Houston Astros
Joining Astros teammate Altuve, 2015 AL Rookie of the Year Carlos Correa looks like the frontrunner to earn his first All-Star appearance in 2017. Although Seattle Mariners shortstop Jean Segura and his .336 batting average looks like a fun pick, Correa’s performance on the defensive end gives him the edge.
Backed up by his 16 home runs and 53 RBIs, Correa also boasts a fielding percentage of .978 compared to Segura’s .963. He’s also helped turn in 41 double plays so far in 2017, putting him on course to turn in 87 double plays, which would beat his personal record of 81 in 2016.
Honorable mention: Jean Segura, Seattle Mariners
Designated Hitter — Ryon Healy, Oakland A’s
Perhaps not the most popular decision, Oakland A’s designated hitter Ryon Healy has had a great year with little recognition, most likely because the A’s are sitting in the bottom of the AL West. Although his batting average is currently only at .272, his 19 home runs and 50 RBIs are nothing to scoff at.
Healy has also been bouncing between starting for the A’s and their farm system teams for several years now, but he seems to have finally cemented his position on their MLB squad.
Healy has played several positions for the A’s this year already as well, having spent 17 games at first base and 19 games at third base. But it’s clear that the designated hitter position is by far Healy’s best place, and he should get the recognition he deserves.
Honorable mention: Nelson Cruz, Seattle Mariners
Aaron Judge, New York Yankees
After playing 27 games for the New York Yankees in 2016 before heading back down to the minors, 25-year-old right fielder Aaron Judge has made his presence known in 2017.
The baseball reincarnation of Alex Rodriguez (without the steroids), Judge has hit the most home runs in 2017 with 27, as well as produce 62 RBIs, putting him in second place behind Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt (66) and third baseman Jake Lamb (64).
Judge also leads the majors in WAR (4.9), slugging percentage (.699), runs scored (70) and total bases (188). He is an obvious choice to be starting in the outfield for the American League.
Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
Despite being just 25 years old, Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout has already cemented his place as a future Hall of Famer.
He’ll be adding more accolades to his resume, as the two-time All-Star MVP will make his sixth-straight All-Star appearance in center field, if he’s healthy. Trout landed on the disabled list for the first time in his career this season and is currently still on it.
And the crazy thing is, with a .337 batting average, 16 home runs, 36 RBIs and 10 stolen bases, Trout definitely has more to give heading into the second half of the season.
In a very competitive AL West, Trout still has a WAR of 3.4, the seventh-best in the American League and fourth-best out of position players.
Known for his slugging, Trout has the second-best slugging percentage in the AL (.742) in 2017, as well the fifth best on-base percentage in the AL (.461).
George Springer, Houston Astros
Although I did debate going with Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner for the final outfield spot, George Springer has been an ever-present threat for the Astros this season in right field. He has been perfect so far in 2017, with a fielding percentage of 1.000.
Although there is the case for Gardner, it is Springer’s performance on offense that gives him the edge. As well as being an excellent slugger with 24 home runs, Springer also has 85 hits in 2017, as well as 52 RBIs and 62 runs scored (second-best in AL).
With both his excellent outfield performances and hitting capabilities, Springer takes the final spot for me.
Honorable mention: Brett Gardner (New York Yankees), Avisaíl García (Chicago White Sox) and Lorenzo Cain (Kansas City Royals)
National League All-Star Starter Predictions
Wesley Dotson | @WesDotsonUDK
Catcher — Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
Although his San Francisco Giants team is uncharacteristically in last place in the NL West, Buster Posey is still proving to be the best hitting catcher in all of Major League Baseball.
A four-time All-Star, Posey leads the entire league in batting average (.344), is third in on-base percentage (.422) and has walked (29) more than he has struck out (28). Expect him to make yet another start behind the plate in the Midsummer Classic.
Honorable mention: J.T. Realmuto, Miami Marlins
First base — Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks
This might be the most debatable starting position in the National League with the resurgent season Washington Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman is having.
Despite that, it’s hard not to choose Goldschmidt, who leads the NL with a .439 on-base percentage. His 66 RBIs are more than Zimmerman’s 62, and Goldschmidt has also shown more value on the base paths with his 13 stolen bases.
Honorable mention: Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals
Second base — Daniel Murphy, Washington Nationals
One would be pressed trying to make an argument for someone other than Murphy. He leads all NL second basemen with a .336 average, 14 home runs, 53 runs and 55 RBIs. Murphy is a lock to make his third All-Star game.
Honorable mention: Josh Harrison, Pittsburgh Pirates
Third base — Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies
The Arizona Diamondbacks’ Jake Lamb should receive consideration here, as well as Washington’s Anthony Rendon, but Arenado is the right choice.
He’s helped the Rockies to National League West contention and has posted 27 doubles — first among Nation League third basemen. Although Lamb has more home runs (18) than Arenado (15), Lamb has struck out 86 times — third-highest in the NL.
Arenado has shown more consistency (.294 batting average) and discipline (only 60 strikeouts) this season.
Honorable mention: Anthony Rendon, Washington Nationals and Jake Lamb, Arizona Diamondbacks
Shortstop — Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers
Rookie Cody Bellinger’s burst onto the scene has overshadowed the solid season Corey Seager is putting together for the Dodgers. The 2016 NL Rookie of the Year leads all NL shortstops in home runs (12) and walks (45), and he’s second in RBIs (39).
Zack Cozart has flourished for the Cincinnati Reds this season, but the star power of Seager should ultimately win out.
Honorable mention: Zack Cozart, Cincinnati Reds
Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals
The 2015 NL MVP has regained his form after a disappointing 2016 season for his standards. Harper holds a .420 on-base percentage and has 58 RBIs — both first among NL outfielders. His 18 home runs are second on the Nationals behind Zimmerman (19). The 24-year-old superstar will take part in his fifth All-Star game and is clearly the centerpiece to a potent Washington offense.
Cody Bellinger, Los Angeles Dodgers
The rookie sensation has blasted an NL-high 24 home runs this season in 61 games. His production as a rookie — in the Los Angeles market, nonetheless — has been remarkable. Bellinger is a no-brainer to become the 25th non-pitching rookie to make the All-Star game.
Charlie Blackmon, Colorado Rockies
Blackmon is easily one of the most underrated players in all of Major League Baseball. He has blossomed into a five-tool player in the leadoff spot for the Rockies.
Blackmon has posted 17 doubles, 10 triples and 16 home runs this season, and he ranks fifth among NL outfielders in on-base percentage (.369).
He’s been known as an effective base-stealer as well. Although he has only five so far in 2017, Blackmon stole 28 bases in 2014, a career-high 43 in 2015 and 17 last season.
Blackmon should expect to receive his second All-Star selection.
Honorable mention: Marcell Ozuna (Miami Marlins), Giancarlo Stanton (Miami Marlins), Adam Duvall (Cincinnati Reds)