The All-Star voting has officially opened to fans, and it’s time to evaluate who the fans should vote for to start the midsummer classic instead of picking their favorite players.
Yesterday, we looked at the NL players that should start the All-Star Game this summer and now we will look at who should do so on the AL side. As was mentioned in yesterday’s article, the fan voting has been a disaster in the past based on who’s started the game but last year it looked like the fans tried voting in the players that deserved to start the game, like Justin Smoak and Corey Dickerson over guys like Eric Hosmer and Mookie Betts.
That said, let’s dive right in and predict who should start on the AL side.
1 Catcher: Wilson Ramos, Tampa Bay Rays
2018 stats: .294 AVG, 7 HR, 29 RBI
After tearing his ACL at the end of the 2016 season, Ramos spent most of his first season with the Rays recovering and getting back into baseball shape. He is now back to his 2016 All-Star form and Ramos is more than deserving of starting the midsummer classic for the first time in his career. If it wasn’t for an injury to Kansas City Royals star catcher Salvador Perez, it’d be easy to say Perez should be the starter, but even then his numbers aren’t anywhere close to Ramos.
Ramos is the best-hitting catcher in the AL with a .294 batting average and he leads by a wide margin. The next catcher behind him is Oakland A’s backstop Jonathan Lucroy and his .264 clip, but with only one home run through the first two months. Ramos’s hot start has also helped the Rays stay at .500 over the course of the year, which is better than what the front office asked for in a team going through a rebuild mode. Ramos may be the only All-Star caliber player on the Rays, but there’s no doubt he’s the most worthy of starting in what should be his second All-Star Game.
2 First Base: Jose Abreu, Chicago White Sox
2018 stats: .301 AVG, 10 HR, 35 RBI
The White Sox may be at the bottom of the AL Central, but Jose Abreu has been putting up an MVP-like season for a team that’s close to competing with the rest of the league. Abreu has been with the White Sox since the beginning of the rebuild and after two down seasons, he is back to his 2014 All-Star, Rookie of the Year form.
His only All-Star appearance was in 2014 and maybe being on a bad White Sox team hurt his chances of making the team but again, the place in the standings doesn’t and shouldn’t matter for voting. Abreu can also reach base consistently with a career .359 OBP and also holds his ground on defense with a .992 fielding percentage. Just because the White Sox are 19-39 and in last place doesn’t mean Abreu shouldn’t be starting the All-Star Game. There may be more deserving players for the starting job on competitive teams, but Abreu is the best overall first baseman in the AL.
3 Second Base: Jose Altuve, Houston Astros
2018 stats: .332 AVG, 4 HR, 29 RBI
This is an easy decision by all means. Jose Altuve is the best second baseman in the game and he’s done everything a player only dreams of in his eight seasons. Even though the Astros have hit a bump in the road and made the AL West up for grabs, Altuve continues to impress the league with his ability to hit and field, along with helping his club win nightly.
Altuve is a favorite all around baseball and because the All-Star voting is centered on fan favorites instead of truly voting for the worthy players, the voting works on both ends of the spectrum in this case. Just like Bryce Harper will start the game, the only thing that will stop Altuve from starting for the AL is an injury that keeps him out through the All-Star Break.
4 Shortstop: Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles
2018 stats: .326 AVG, 18 HR, 47 RBI
Not only is Baltimore Orioles shortstop Manny Machado bouncing back from a forgettable 2017, but he’s adding value to his trade value every day the closer we get to the midseason trade deadline. Machado’s move to shortstop might’ve been the best thing to happen to him and if he’s getting traded, he can play third and even second with whichever team picks him up at the deadline or before. He has a lot of competition around him in the AL but overall, he’s been the better player all year.
The Orioles may be the worst team in baseball with an 18-41 record but to Machado’s benefit, he plays on the east coast where everyone across the country can watch him play every day at a decent time so his chances of not starting the All-Star Game are small compared to a guy like Abreu. There are at least four other shortstops that are also worthy of this honor, but Machado has been the best in the game for the first two-and-a-half months of the season and deserves this honor more than anyone in the AL infield.
5 Third Base: Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians
2018 stats: .298 AVG, 19 HR, 42 RBI
After starting his first career All-Star Game last summer, Ramirez appears to be the early favorite to start for the AL again. Ramirez posted a career best in home runs, RBI, and batting average last year and he’s on pace to pass those numbers before the season ends. Ramirez had a slow start to April but since April 21, he has been hitting .343 and helped keep a mediocre Indians team in first place in the AL Central.
Ramirez has been the best third baseman in the AL over the last two years and he’s been a major driving force for the Indians, who are looking to run away from the rest of the AL Central. Ramirez has also been the best hitting third baseman for most of the year, with Tampa Bay’s Matt Duffy and New York’s Miguel Andujar arguably the closest for consideration to start the All-Star Game if an argument is to be made for anyone other than Ramirez.
6 Left Field: Eddie Rosario, Minnesota Twins
2018 stats: .314 AVG, 13 HR, 40 RBI
Eddie Rosario is slowly developing into one of the best hitters and fielders in the game. Since he broke in with the Twins in 2015 Rosario has become a fan favorite and an exciting player to watch all around. In fact, in his short career, Rosario has already put up a pair of three home run performances, including one he capped off with a walk-off home run last Sunday that led the Twins to a sweep of the Indians.
Rosario may have started the year slowly but since April 29, he has hit .363 with 21 extra base hits and 28 RBI, making him one of the best in the game over the last month. There are many deserving players that could start in any of the outfield positions for the AL but if fans are looking for a guy that’s under the radar and doesn’t get the attention they deserve, Rosario is the way to go.
7 Center Field: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
2018 stats: .315 AVG, 19 HR, 39 RBI
Is this even worth an explanation? Trout’s been an All-Star in each of his six full seasons in the majors and there’s no reason for him not to make it this year. Even with his thumb injury that kept him out of the All-Star Game last year, he was still voted in as a starter and has been every year he’s been in the game.
Trout is beloved around the league among fans and players and an All-Star Game without Trout might make the world stand still while a work stoppage among players takes place. Okay, maybe not that far, but still. Last year’s midsummer classic wasn’t the same without Trout and there’s no doubt that as long as Trout is playing, he’ll get voted into the All-Star Game every year by the fans and players.
8 Right Field: Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox
2018 stats: .359 AVG, 17 HR, 37 RBI
Mookie Betts may be on the disabled list right now but as long as he returns before the All-Star Game, he should still be heavily favored among fans to start. With a .359 batting average, Betts is the best hitter in the league among qualifiers and he’s hitting nearly 100 points higher than his mark of .264 last year. Betts’s ability to play the field and hit has also made him an exciting player for fans to watch on the highlight reels every night and he’s also put up a pair of three home run games this year for the second time in his career.
It’s been hard to ignore the success Betts has had in his short time in the majors and this year. He’s made a big enough impact on the Red Sox that since he landed on the DL, the club lost its first place seed in the AL East to their hated division rival New York Yankees. As long as Betts returns in a short amount of time from the DL, fans should vote for him and get him to the All-Star Game for the third consecutive season.
9 Designated Hitter: JD Martinez, Boston Red Sox
2018 stats: .318 AVG, 20 HR, 52 RBI
Martinez continues to impress the rest of the league with his power and ability to hit the ball to all fields. His presence in the lineup is exactly what the Red Sox needed after ranking last in the AL in home runs in 2017. Like Betts, Martinez has also helped the Red Sox keep pace with the Yankees in the AL East and has also brought back the fire in a historic rivalry that was losing its fire.
Martinez only has one All-Star appearance, which was back in 2015 with the Detroit Tigers, which was the same year he wasn’t invited to the Home Run Derby amidst a career year in home runs. Martinez may not want to take part in the Derby, but that shouldn’t stop anyone from making him an All-Star starter this summer. Plus, I think it’s safe to say Martinez won’t decline to go to the All-Star Game if he gets selected to the AL roster.
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