The Camp World All-Star ballots have opened for fans to vote for their favorite players to start in this year’s summer’s midsummer classic at Nationals Park. Not players that deserve to start, mind you, but players that are favorites to the fans. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating to an extent but looking back on the players who have started the midsummer classic for their respective leagues over the last few years, I’m not wrong when I say favorite players.
I guess it goes to show which teams fans care about in the All-Star voting, but can we be real for a moment, please? Remember 2016, when all the Chicago Cubs infielders started the All-Star Game in San Diego? Yes, even shortstop Addison Russell, who was hitting .237 at the break, started the All-Star Game and potentially screwed worthy players of making the team, like Arizona’s Jean Segura, who led the NL in hits that year. It’s not Russell’s fault, but MLB should have a say in who starts the game, right?
Last year it looked as if the fans tried to vote for the right players, which was encouraging to see, rather than vote for the game’s biggest stars at each position, like former Cincinnati Reds shortstop Zack Cozart. The All-Star Game is five weeks away, and it’s time to give you, the fans, insight on who should earn votes to start the All-Star Game for both the AL and NL. That said, let’s look at the NL in hopes the fans will get the rosters as correct as possible.
1 Catcher: Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
2018 Stats: .306 AVG, 4 HR, 23 RBI
San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey might be the best catcher in the game right now, and he continues to show it defensively and with the bat. Posey has done it all in his career, having won a World Series (three to be exact), Rookie of the Year and MVP trophies, and hit over .300 multiple times in a season. He’s also been to five All-Star Games and has only missed one in the last six seasons while starting four.
Posey may not hit for the power he once did, but he’s been the best hitting catcher among qualifiers in the NL this year and the Giants are also in the thick of the division race in the NL West with a 30-30 record after finishing 64-98 last year. With Yadier Molina on the shelf for all of May with a groin injury, Posey is the only catcher worthy of starting for the NL if you look at who has the best numbers.
2 First Base: Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves
2018 Stats: .328 AVG, 9 HR, 40 RBI
A wrist injury early last year tainted what was a spectacular season from Freeman. If it wasn’t for his broken wrist, he might have started the All-Star Game over Washington Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman, but now is the time for fans to give Freeman every vote possible. The two-time All-Star hasn’t been in the All-Star Game since 2014, but his career season has also put the Braves in first place in the NL East at this point in the year, and he’s also making an early case for MVP.
Freeman has been overshadowed by other star first basemen in the game for much of his career, by guys like Paul Goldschmidt, Joey Votto, and Anthony Rizzo. But with Goldschmidt and Rizzo struggling all year and Votto not putting up Votto-like number,s Freeman has taken full advantage of the opportunity. He has always had what it takes to be an All-Star, but this is the first time he hasn’t been overlooked by other prominent first basemen in his career, and fans should vote for him over anyone else in the NL.
3 Second Base: Scooter Gennett, Cincinnati Reds
2018 Stats: .342 AVG, 12 HR, 41 RBI
Since June 6 of last year, Scooter Gennett has done nothing but impress the league with his offensive game, so much that some may think it's too bad he plays for the last-place Cincinnati Reds. In reality, it doesn’t matter that Gennett is on a team that won’t reach the playoffs this year, he’s been the best second baseman in the NL over the last calendar year and he’s the most worthy of starting for the NL in the All-Star Game.
Gennett has hit 39 home runs since his four home run game last year and he leads the Reds in every offensive category this season. There’s a chance he could get traded before the year is over, but don’t count on it happening before the All-Star Game. Every team has to have at least one representative and Gennett is that player for the Reds, which is all the more reason to start him in this year’s midsummer classic.
4 Shortstop: Brandon Crawford, San Francisco Giants
2018 Stats: .320 AVG, 7 HR, 25 RBI
Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford has been incredible with the glove since breaking into the league in 2011 but over the last few seasons he’s picked up his offensive game too and he’s never been better than he is now. Like his teammate Posey, Crawford has just about done it all in his career except win MVP and Rookie of the Year. He last played in the All-Star Game in 2015 in Cincinnati and as the best hitting shortstop in the NL, he should easily make it to his second while starting his first midsummer classic.
This is the first in any of Crawford’s eight seasons he’s been hitting above .300 and he has never posted an average above .275, but he’s hit double-digit home runs each of the last four seasons and driven in over 65 runs too. It’s never a guarantee that his numbers now mean he’ll hit those numbers again when all is said and done but as of now, he’s on pace to hit 16 home runs and drive in 67, along with hit a career-best .281 batting average according to the fantasy tracker on MLB.com.
5 Third Base: Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies
2018 Stats: .327 AVG, 12 HR, 36 RBI
Nolan Arenado has developed into a complete player and is arguably the best third baseman in the game now that Manny Machado has moved to shortstop. Compared to other third basemen in the NL, Arenado is the only one at this point hitting over .300 and is third in the home run department. With the Rockies in the thick of the playoff race, it’s been hard to ignore what Arenado has done this season even if it’s him charging pitchers for throwing up and into him.
His 132 home runs since 2015 are the most in the league and he’s also driven in 130 runs or more each of the last three seasons, which is also a league-best in that span. Arenado started his first All-Star Game last season and has appeared in each of the last three for the NL. Arenado has continued to make his name known around the league and with his recent ability to hit for a better average, he should be the easy favorite to start for the NL for the second straight year.
6 Left Field: Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers
2018 Stats: .344 AVG, 9 HR, 33 RBI
When the Dodgers reacquired Kemp in the offseason from the Braves, many people questioned how the Dodgers couldn’t make any better acquisitions as the reigning NL champions. Now it looks like the Dodgers struck gold by bringing back Kemp as he looks like his 2011 near-MVP self. In fact, Kemp might be the only Dodger worthy of going to the All-Star Game with injuries to key players like Justin Turner and Clayton Kershaw tainting their seasons.
It’s fair to say nobody saw this coming and with Dave Roberts managing the NL team, he’ll get to put one player on his team in the starting lineup if, in fact, Kemp is to get voted in by the fans. The two-time All-Star hasn’t appeared in an All-Star Game since 2011 and seven years later, Kemp looks to be a strong candidate to start the first All-Star Game of his career.
7 Center Field: Odubel Herrera, Philadelphia Phillies
2018 Stats: .305 AVG, 7 HR, 32 RBI
Odubel Herrera has a lot of potential to be a star for a Phillies team looking to bring a World Series back to the city, but he’s also made the fans and coaching staff frustrated with him during his career. However, there’s nothing to be frustrated with from Herrera’s early success this season and it might be worthy enough to earn him his first ever start in the All-Star Game.
Herrera’s glove isn’t something to shy away from either, as he’s posted a .992 fielding percentage while committing one error so far in 2018. Herrera appeared in the All-Star Game in 2016 and he’s always been a respectable hitter, never hitting lower than .280 in a season in his four years in the league. Plus, the Phillies are also amid a playoff race early in the year and a team’s place in the standings seems to determine All-Star status. If that’s the case, there’s no reason for Herrera to not start the All-Star Game since the Phillies are a winning team.
8 Right Field: Nick Markakis, Atlanta Braves
2018 Stats: .331 AVG, 7 HR, 39 RBI
Believe it or not, Nick Markakis has never appeared in an All-Star game in his 13 seasons in the majors. For being a career .289 hitter with 172 home runs, one would think he’d have at least one All-Star appearance. At 34 years old, this might be Markakis’s last chance to reach an All-Star Game, and it’s a shame fans haven't given him love. Markakis had an incredible month of May, earning our MVP of the month honor in my May awards and accolades article last week. If the season were to end today, his .331 batting average would be a career best by a wide margin.
Markakis, like Herrera, is also a terrific defender, committing only 24 errors his entire career. Yes, 24 for his entire career! And like teammate Freddie Freeman, his contributions offensively have helped the Braves maintain first place this late in the year. The offense wasn’t Markakis’s strongest part of his game in his first year with the Braves but now that all the tools are coming together, it’s time for fans to give him some love and make him a starter in the All-Star Game.
9 Designated Hitter: Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals
2018 Stats: .232 AVG, 18 HR, 40 RBI
The only thing that makes me put Bryce Harper in here is because the Nationals need a starter at their home park for the midsummer classic. Though he’s not All-Star worthy, at least from a batting average standpoint, he’s the face of the Nationals and he’ll be the ambassador of the events, which gives him an automatic nod to the All-Star Game. It’s fair that the league makes it part of the game to have a starter from the host city, but that’s the only reason Harper deserves to be in the midsummer classic.
Perhaps Harper could play the field while Matt Kemp takes the designated hitter spot, but this article is focusing on who should start, and Kemp is more worthy than Harper which is why he’s in the left field position. There’s no doubt Harper is starting the game for the NL but where he plays is totally up to Roberts depending on how the voting goes. Mets manager Terry Collins put Wil Myers in at DH in 2016 so the Padres would still have a starter, so anything is possible regarding Harper.
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