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The thinking fan’s guide to the AL All-Star ballot

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Minnesota Twins v Kansas City Royals Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

It’s difficult to say if this new All-Star voting scheme is fun or just kind of an exercise in banality. Much like the game itself, I suppose. Anyway, the field has been narrowed to the “finalists.” Voting has been open for almost a day and will close at 3 PM Central. That means if you’re reading this on your coffee break or your lunch break or while you’re pretending to work but really surfing the internet, you still have time to cast a ballot.

With all the choices and so much at stake (I really have no idea what’s at stake. A used car from Bud Selig?) a voting primer could come in handy. You can vote at MLB.com or any MLB online platform up to five times. You can also enter a player’s name at google.com and vote there.

Since this website is dedicated to a team in the American League, this is only a primer on the AL portion of the All-Star ballot. We are not in the business of helping the competition. Who do I look like, Paul Manafort? Come on. Orange is not my color.

So open a tab with the ballot and don’t sweat the research.

First Base

1B Candidates

Candidate OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ fWAR
Candidate OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ fWAR
C.J. Cron .324 .534 .363 126 1.3
Carlos Santana .412 .545 .399 148 2.7
Luke Voit .385 .489 .373 133 1.5

This is about as clear cut as you can get. While Cron and Voit are having fine seasons, the choice here is Santana. He’s leading all first basemen with a .399 wOBA and a 145 wRC+. He’s basically providing everything you want offensively from a corner infielder.

Easy.

Second Base

2B Candidates

Candidate OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ fWAR
Candidate OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ fWAR
Jose Altuve .328 .480 .340 117 0.8
Tommy LaStella .352 .510 .363 132 2.4
DJ LeMahiue .382 .512 .377 136 3.0

If you’re voting based on performance prior to 2019, you can justify Altuve. But we’re not, so we can’t. He’s spent considerable time on the injured list this year and when he has been in the lineup, hasn’t been his usual productive self. Besides, Altuve is not old enough to be selected as an honorary veteran.

This one has to be LeMahieu who has thrived in his move to the AL. He’s four off his career high in home runs and his .512 slugging percentage is about 100 points above his career average. He’s also having his usual strong defensive year at the keystone. Combine the excellence on both sides of the ball and you have the leader in fWAR.

Boy, now we’re really cruising.

Third Base

3B Candidates

Candidate OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ fWAR
Candidate OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ fWAR
Alex Bregman .393 .539 .390 150 3.5
Hunter Dozier .387 .585 .400 152 2.4
Gio Urshela .354 .458 .344 114 1.1

Uh-oh. Things are starting to get tight. Dozier is having a breakout season. Urshela seemingly came out of nowhere. Both are nice stories.

However, we’re sticking with the sublime Bregman. It’s so damn close offensively between him and Dozier. The defense is likewise strong, Bregman’s versatility has been on display shifting over to shortstop to cover for the injured Carlos Correa. Bregman has been worth 5 Defensive Runs saved so far this year at third. Dozier is at -2. Another factor to consider when the decision is so tight is time on the field. Bregman has 100 more plate appearances than Dozier and has appeared in 20 more games. Sorry to disappoint you.

Be honest. You didn’t even read the previous paragraph. You just went ahead and voted for Dozier. I can’t begrudge you.

Shortstop

SS Candidates

Candidate OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ fWAR
Candidate OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ fWAR
Carlos Correa .360 .547 .376 141 1.8
Jorge Polanco .383 .539 .384 140 2.9
Gleyber Torres .350 .548 .370 132 2.3

The aforementioned Correa is still out with a rib injury, otherwise he’d be the guy. He’s doing some running and set to continue his rehab and could be back to full health by the All-Star Game. But we’re voting today and not taking unnecessary risks with our ballot. Instead, we’ll go with Polanco, who is playing better defense than Torres and posting a better OBP along with more power. Sure, Torres has the edge in slugging percentage, but Polanco has gotten hot of late and is surging. Also, we need our shortstop to be able to pick it in the field. Neither of our choices will blow your mind with the glove, but Polanco does have the edge in Defensive Runs Saved at shortstop.

Catcher

C Candidates

Candidate OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ fWAR
Candidate OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ fWAR
Robinson Chirinos .360 .476 .353 126 1.5
James McCann .387 .508 .379 140 2.0
Gary Sanchez .335 .616 .386 142 2.0

This is probably where you’re feeling your Royals All-Star withdrawl at it’s most intense. Sorry about that. See you next year, Salvador Perez.

With 23 home runs, Sanchez is having a tremendous offensive season. McCann doesn’t have the power his counterpart in New York possesses, but he’s been better at reaching base. It’s close. Both have been worth 2.0 fWAR.

Neither backstop shines in the Baseball Prospectus catcher framing statistics. However, McCann does control the running game, throwing out 41 percent of attempted thefts. Sanchez has difficulty gunning down would-be base stealers. While I really don’t think anyone is going to be running in an exhibition (especially with Dave Roberts at the controls) we have to find an edge somewhere. The choice is McCann.

Outfield

OF Candidates

Candidate OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ fWAR
Candidate OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ fWAR
Mookie Betts .384 .466 .360 122 2.4
Michael Brantley .377 .505 .372 138 2.2
Joey Gallo .420 .649 .431 167 3.3
Aaron Judge .385 .500 .369 131 0.9
Austin Meadows .375 .545 .381 143 2.1
Josh Reddick .340 .447 .331 111 1.0
Eddie Rosario .307 .526 .345 114 1.4
George Springer .386 .635 .416 168 2.7
Mike Trout .463 .636 .446 187 5.3

Trout is just automatic. We don’t even need to discuss this. Why am I even writing this paragraph?

The numbers for Gallo and Springer leap off the table. And both recently returned to the lineup after being sidelined for all of June with injury. Springer with his hamstring. Gallo with an oblique strain. Earlier, I dinged Dozier for missing time on the IL, but Gallo’s numbers practically lapped the field prior to his injury. And his fellow outfielders are still trying to catch him. Plus, he’s playing quality defense in left. Gallo is in.

The final choice isn’t going to be easy. It’s between Betts, Meadows, Springer and Brantley. Springer’s counting stats are almost a carbon copy of Gallo’s. I realize that Dozier was penalized for not having the same amount of playing time as his contemporary, but in that case the overall numbers were much closer. Here Springer (and Gallo) are well ahead of the rest of the field. Springer is playing decent defense in right field as well. I’m tempted to lean Betts for the defensive edge, but who can pass up the opportunity to have an outfield that his hitting somewhere in the neighborhood of .295/.420/.640. Goodness. It’s like we’ve cloned Mike Trout.

Springer gets the final spot.

Designated Hitter

DH Candidates

Candidate OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ fWAR
Candidate OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ fWAR
Nelson Cruz .361 .532 .372 132 1.1
J.D. Martinez .364 .528 .370 128 1.6
Hunter Pence .353 .608 .394 141 1.7

Who saw that stat line coming from Pence? Holy moly, what a renaissance. Currently on the IL with a groin strain, he’s probably not going to be ready when he’s eligible to be activated on Thursday. Unlike Correa who we passed on at shortstop due to his injury, Pence should miss minimal time and won’t need a rehab assignment. Plus, he’s far outpacing the other candidates when it comes to overall offense. Every All-Star Game should include one redemption story.

If the injury scares you off Pence, the choice is Cruz.