The 2016 All-Star Game will be held July 12 in San Diego, and we already know at least one person in a Royals uniform will be there - manager Ned Yost, by virtue of leading the Royals to last year's World Series. Yost will likely have plenty of company in Royals blue, the only question is how many Royals will he travel with to San Diego?
Last year the Royals took a franchise-record six players to the All-Star Game - Salvador Perez, Alcides Escobar, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain, Wade Davis, and Kelvin Herrera. The Royals are unlikely to carry that many this year, but they will still send multiple All-Stars for the fourth consecutive season. Who from Kansas City will represent the American League at the Midsummer Classic? Let's take a look around the field and predict who Ned Yost might choose.
Salvador Perez is the leading vote-getter among all American League players and has more votes than the next four catchers combined. He is as much of a lock as you can get. And deservedly so. Perez leads all American League catchers in batting average, slugging percentage, home runs, RBI, OPS, wOBA, wRC+, and WAR. He will appear in his fourth All-Star Game, his third as a starter. Matt Wieters should back him up and Stephen Vogt could be Oakland's only All-Star.
Projected Starter: Salvador Perez, Kansas City
Projected Reserves: Stephen Vogt, Oakland
Eric Hosmer looks poised to make his first-ever All-Star appearance, as he has a 600,000 vote lead on Miguel Cabrera for the starting nod. Hosmer is having a career year at the plate and trails only Cabrera among American League first basemen in OPS, wRC+, wOBA. After his famous dash home in last year's World Series, and the publicity that goes with being the first baseman of the champs, Hosmer will get his spotlight. Cabrera will back up, and in a weak year for first basemen, the Twins will have to send Mauer as their lone representative.
Projected Starter: Eric Hosmer, Kansas City
Projected Reserves: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit; Joe Mauer, Minnesota
The #VoteOmar campaign is losing steam, mostly because he has been released by the Royals. Whit Merrifield is not on the ballot, but he has been a sparkplug, and leads all American League rookie position players in WAR. However he has only played in 30 some games, and with a solid group of second baseman, seems unlikely to get chosen.
Projected Starter: Jose Altuve, Houston
Projected Reserves: Robinson Cano, Seattle; Ian Kinsler, Detroit
Alcides Escobar started the All-Star Game last year, but this year he trails Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts by well over a million votes. Ned Yost loves Esky's "ambush" hitting, but this year Alcides is second-worst among all American League shortstops in OPS. The rise of stud shortstops like Bogaerts, Carlos Correa, and Francisco Lindor could shut Alcides out of All-Star Games for some time.
Projected Starter: Xander Bogaerts, Boston
Projected Reserves: Carlos Correa, Houston
The injury to Mike Moustakas ended any hopes to seeing Moose back at the All-Star Game, and although Cheslor Cuthbert has played well, he is not an All-Star level. Manny Machado has been playing shortstop lately, but he is on the ballot as a third baseman, and will likely start.
Projected Starter: Manny Machado, Baltimore
Projected Reserves: Josh Donaldson, Toronto, Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay
Lorenzo trails Mookie Betts by 90,000 votes for the last outfield spot, and barring a late push, he won't make the team as a starter. A June slump and a recent hamstring injury probably end the possibility Ned Yost takes Lorenzo as a reserve. Alex Gordon's injury removed any possibility of him making it. Paulo Orlando has a lofty batting average, but has only played in 52 games and is an unknown around baseball.
Projected Starters: Mike Trout, Los Angeles; Jackie Bradley, Jr, Boston; Mookie Betts, Boston
Projected Reserves: Nelson Cruz, Seattle; J.D. Martinez, Detroit; Michael Saunders, Toronto; George Springer, Houston; Mark Trumbo, Baltimore
While Kendrys Morales has begun to heat up, his numbers are still poor overall and David Ortiz is making Red Sox fans wish he wouldn't retire. Carlos Beltran is having a fine season as well, and perhaps he could be in Royals blue before the end of the season?
Projected Starter: David Ortiz, Boston
Projected Reserves: Carlos Beltran, New York
The Royals starting pitchers have ranged from mediocre to awful, so don't expect to see any of them in San Diego. It will be interesting to see if Ned Yost goes with pitchers favored by metrics like FIP such as Jose Quintana, who has a losing record, or if he'll be swayed by more traditional stats like wins and ERA.
Projected Starters: Cole Hamels, Texas; Corey Kluber, Cleveland; Danny Salazar, Cleveland; Chris Sale, Chicago; Chris Tillman, Baltimore; Steven Wright, Boston; Jordan Zimmermann, Detroit
Kelvin Herrera was selected last year, and he is putting up even better numbers this year, so expect Ned to bring his setup man. Wade Davis doesn't quite look like the Wade Davis of old, but he has an ERA just over 1.00 with 18 saves, so it seems very likely Ned will bring him as well. Solid middle relievers like Will Harris of Houston and Dellin Betances of New York may get left out.
Projected Relievers: Zack Britton, Baltimore; Wade Davis, Kansas City; Kelvin Herrera, Kansas City; Andrew Miller, New York
Projected Final vote candidates: Dellin Betances, New York; Ian Desmond, Texas; Francisco Lindor, Cleveland; Roberto Osuna, Toronto; Justin Verlander, Detroit
Full rosters will be announced on Tuesday, July 5 at 6pm on the "Esurance All-Star Selection Show" on ESPN. The starters are determined by an online fan vote (still time to vote here). The reserves and pitchers are determined by a combination of a player's ballot and choices from the manager, for the American League, Royals skipper Ned Yost. The last roster spot for each team is determined by an online vote from fans.