We are about a month from the All-Star Game in Washington, D.C. this year, and the years of the Royals sending seven players to the Midsummer’s Classic are probably over for now. Maybe Royals fans will hack the system to send multiple Royals, as they were alleged to do back in 2015 (curious how Royals fans haven’t hacked the team now that they are less popular), but most likely the team will send one or two - maybe three at the most.
You can of course, do your part to send more by voting online here up to five times per day. Who should we expect to represent the Royals in DC? Let’s list them in order of liklihood.
Salvy has started the last four All-Star games for the American League. An injury to start the year, plus the rise of Gary Sanchez of the Yankees last year seemed to put that in doubt, but Sanchez has been dreadful this year. Despite missing the first four weeks of the season, Salvy is still fifth among American League catchers in fWAR, virtually tied with league-leader Max Stassi of the Astros.
Most of the catchers that have hit well this year are part-timers or are suspended. Salvy hasn’t had his best offensive year - he’s hitting just .233/.282/.461 - but that is still good for a league average wRC+. He is still one of the best defensive catchers in the game, and his track record and superstar smile should probably earn him a selection to D.C.
If you have a bad team but a pretty good closer, odds are you will be represented at the All-Star team by a reliever. That’s how Jeff Montgomery got multiple selections in the 90s. Herrera has the added benefit of being a name player with two All-Star selections under his belt already.
He has also been very good. Herrera is second among all relievers in baseball with a 0.73 ERA, 8th in FIP (1.85), 14th in fWAR (1.0), and is the only qualified reliever not to allow a single walk yet. Pitching for a crummy team, he hasn’t gotten many save opportunities, but he has converted 14 out of 15 chances, and is tenth overall in baseball in saves.
It is pretty easy to get a good reliever onto the squad, and you can probably expect American League Manager A.J. Hinch to put a premium on relievers to employ the popular “bullpenning” strategy. If he stays healthy, and if he stays on the Royals, Herrera seems like he would have a decent shot of being selected.
Jose Ramirez of the Indians is having an MVP-type season and should be the starter, but Moose could find himself in the running to back him up. With Manny Machado playing shortstop, Josh Donaldson being hurt, and Evan Longoria now in the National League with the Giants, the field has thinned out a bit. Moose is second among American League third basemen in home runs with 13, but is just eighth in wRC+ and sixth in fWAR.
There are a number of third basemen having decent seasons, but none has really stuck out aside from maybe Minnesota’s Eduardo Escobar, who is having a surprisingly terrific season, and Miguel Andujar of the Yankees. Other potential complications for Moose could arise if Matt Chapman of Oakland or Jeimer Candelario of Detroit are selected as the lone representative from their respective clubs. But that could help Moustakas as well, if Herrera falters or is traded, sending a two-time All-Star like Moose as the lone Royals rep might be a fitting send-off before he is likely traded in late July.
Whit got off to a bit of a slow start, but has come on to hit .286/.362/.415 this year, a wRC+ that is fourth among qualified American League second basemen. Jose Altuve is almost certainly going to be the starter, but the race to back him up seems pretty wide open. Jed Lowrie is hitting very well for the Athletics, who may only send one player, but he also has a history of injuries which could prevent him from being available.
All-Star managers have, in the past, preferred players that have positional versatility, since the mass substitutions can create a headache for managers, and having a player on the bench that can fill in anywhere can calm nerves that the squad may run out of available players at a position. Merrifield’s ability to play all over the field could get him on the squad, as it did for Brock Holt of the Red Sox a few years ago.
Soler got off to a sizzling start, but has hit just .172 over his last 23 games. He is a one-dimensional player with poor defense, so he really needs to stake a claim with his bat, which he hasn’t done. Soler is 12th among qualified American League outfielders in wRC+ at 127 and 16th in fWAR. Maybe Soler has some All-Star appearances in his future, but he needs to have more than one hot month to get on the radar.
The American League shortstop position is absurdly loaded right now with Francisco Lindor, Andrelton Simmons, and Manny Machado all having MVP-type seasons, Jean Segura of the Mariners having an amazing season, and that’s not even counting Carlos Correa of the Astros, Didi Gregorius of the Yankees, or Xander Bogaerts of the Red Sox, all of which are having very fine seasons.
But Royals fans can throw a wrench into all of that by voting in Alcides Escobar. There are 85 qualified hitters in the American League, Escobar is 83rd in wRC+ (good heavens Chris Davis is awful). He is 81st in fWAR. He is fifth-worst in on-base percentage and slugging percentage. Sending him to the All-Star Game would be the ultimate troll job by Royals fans. So VOTE HIM IN.
What one Royals player is most likely to be at the All-Star Game?
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