Read our story on the voting format, which includes two stages of fan voting to determine the All-Star starters.
I don’t know about you, but I’m spending way too much time on my All-Star pick.
Player stats this year is obviously a factor, but it’s not the only one. Historical significance, past performance, the aspect of electricity (because fans actually want to see in this game), idiosyncratic personal preferences – all of it is thrown into the same big stew. It’s tough. It’s the all-star game. You want to do it right.
That means there are some easy calls. Picking Aaron Judge and Mike Trout and Mookie Betts: Not difficult. Their selection does not require much mental energy. Which is good, because for the rest of this ballot… I’m going to need that energy.
There are many difficult decisions up and down the ballot, but I think there are five particularly annoying ones. I’m not sure if there is a “correct” answer in these five places. These torment me the most.
You know, it really wasn’t that long ago that first base in the NL was considered a position, if not a weak one, then not a particularly deep one. Now the position is absolutely stacked. First there’s three-time defending champion Freddie Freeman, who may wear a different uniform but is still one of the best sluggers in the NL. You have Matt Olson, the man who replaced Freeman in Atlanta, a fantastic hitter who has helped the Braves hardly miss a shot at that position. You have CJ Cron, who has become the linchpin of the Rockies’ offense. And you could still argue that none of these guys are in the top two.
The Mets’ Pete Alonso – who we hope to see again at the Home Run Derby – leads the NL in home runs and RBIs has his team in first place. And the Cardinals’ Paul Goldschmidt, a guy who’s started two All-Star Games himself in the past, was May’s NL Player of the Month and had one of the best starts of his career. It’s understandable if you’re paralyzed with indecision here.
This one has fewer candidates than first base, but can be just as difficult. There’s Ketel Marte of Arizona, who got off to a reasonably slow start but is still among the leaders in that position. (And he started an All-Star game himself back in 2019.) But the two standout players are both from NL East.
Jeff McNeil actually leads the Mets in WAR, hitting .320 and standing out as the linchpin of this whole offense; he is always in the middle. And over in Miami, Jazz Chisholm Jr. is having the breakout offensive season the Marlins have been waiting for, thanks in large part to a power surge that has made him improbably one of the home run leaders in the NL. He’s remained the electric, exciting player that’s already the face of this franchise. You can’t go wrong either way. But you have to choose one.
One of the reasons second base isn’t quite as tough as it could have been is because the Cardinals’ Tommy Edman is listed as a shortstop rather than a second baseman, despite being the second-buster this year and winning the Gold Glove took second place only last year. (He fell short to make a spot for slugging phenom Nolan Gorman.) Believe it or not, Edman is actually the leading MLB position player in WAR right now, according to the baseball reference, and his performance clogs one already crowded shortstop position further .
Remarkably, Francisco Lindor has never started an All-Star Game before, but in many ways he is the face of this current Mets team. Atlanta’s Dansby Swanson is having the best year of his career and is really starting to look like the player expected when he was drafted No. 1 overall in the 2015 draft. And the Dodgers’ Trea Turner is a star, and not just on your fantasy team. It’s almost impossible to choose just one of these guys… and imagine how much more it would be difficult if Fernando Tatis Jr. were healthy.
Obviously, it’s difficult to argue against voting for Judge and Trout. But third place is a huge fight. Is it the Twins’ Byron Buxton, who looked like a solid third pick before suffering a slump in May – one that now appears to be over following his AL Player of the Week award? What about George Springer, who turned out to be the best player on the Blue Jays team? Josh Naylor? He helped Cleveland get its deepest lineup in years. Oh, and by the way, Giancarlo Stanton has been healthy for the most part and the results have followed suit. And don’t forget that the Angels’ Taylor Ward has the best numbers of them all… including Judge and Trout!
To be honest, there’s a little part of me that just wants to vote for Shohei Ohtani and not think about it too much. Who wouldn’t want to see him in the All-Star Game again? But that would be a huge disservice to two DHs with fantastic years. Boston’s JD Martinez has rediscovered his swing and is once again one of the most fearsome hitters in the league. But Houston’s Yordan Alvarez remains an absolute monster. It’s possible we underestimated how incredible he is just because he’s a DH, but we shouldn’t: Few players fear opposing pitchers more. Long gone are the days of just checking “David Ortiz” at this point and moving on.
See, just writing that stressed me out even more. If you’ll excuse me, I’ll go back and stare at my ballot for another hour.