Early MLB All-Star Game Predictions
The 2019 MLB All-Star game is still a month away, but it’s about that time to start projecting how the rosters will shape up.
There is a slight alteration to the voting process this year with the MLB omitting the final vote. This year’s voting begins with the "primary," followed by the "starters election." In the primary, the top three vote-getters at each position, and the top nine outfielders, will advance to the starters election phase.
The starters election will last just 28 hours, starting at noon ET on June 26 and running through 4 p.m. ET on June 27. Fans can vote just once, as opposed to five times maximum in the primary.
Note the other roster rules: 32 players for each league, with 20 position players and 12 pitchers. The players will still vote on the reserves at each position, including designated hitter in the American League, leaving the commissioner's office to fill eight spots in the National League (four pitchers, four position players) and six in the American League (four pitchers, two position players). Every team must have at least one representative. (All stats through June 7).
NATIONAL LEAGUE STARTERS
C Willson Contreras, Cubs – Contreras has been the best hitting catcher in the league with a .291/.397/.559 slash line through the first two months of the season. Contreras gets the slight edge over Yasmani Grandal and J.T. Realmuto for his superior offensive numbers. Realmuto is much better defensively, but while Grandal is known to be the better defensive catcher than Contreras, Grandal has posted a -0.3 dWAR so far compared to Contreras’ 0.1 dWAR.
1B Josh Bell, Pirates – Anthony Rizzo has been scorching the past few weeks, but Bell leads all major league first basemen in batting average, OPS, wOBA and wRC+. The NL Player of the Month in May hit .390 with 12 home runs for the month thanks to his ascension into the top five in hard-hit percentage and exit velocity this season.
2B Ketel Marte, Diamondbacks – Marte has unearthed quite the power breakout this season after hitting just three home runs in 437 at-bats during first two seasons. His 482-foot home run the other night is tied for the longest in 2019. Mike Moustakas has slightly better offensive numbers, but Marte is the far better defensive player.
SS Javier Báez, Cubs – Báez beats out Trevor Story by a slim margin. Despite striking out nearly five times more than he walks, Báez has posted a .306/.347/.584 slash line and leads NL second baseman with a .931 OPS. His defensive acumen also has him tied for second in the MLB in dWAR.
3B Nolan Arenado, Rockies – After a slow start, Arenado has firmly re-established himself as one of the top players in baseball over the past month. A perennial 40 home run and 130 RBI threat, the four-time Gold Glove Award winner has cut down his strikeout rate this season and is on pace for his best season yet.
OF Cody Bellinger, Dodgers – Bellinger has been the best player in baseball this season, leading the MLB in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. No player has improved more in strikeout to walk ratio this year and he leads the MLB in defensive runs saved. His 5.5 WAR is a whopping 1.3 greater than the next highest player, Mike Trout.
OF Christian Yelich, Brewers – Yelich is having one of the best seasons ever by a defending MVP, hitting .328/.439/.731 and leading the MLB with 22 home runs. If not for Bellinger, Yelich would be the clear favorite to win back-to-back NL MVPs.
OF Ronald Acuña Jr., Braves – Joc Pederson is probably the more popular pick with his 18 home runs and .997 OPS, but Pederson is still an offensive liability against lefty pitchers, which is why the Dodgers have given him only 24 at-bats agasint such pitchers this season. Acuña is third in WAR among NL outfielders and is the superior defensive player, and he has handled the transition to center field well since the injury to Edner Inciarte.
P Hyun-Jin Ryu, Dodgers – His 1.35 ERA leads the majors, and he does so with a relatively low strikeout rate. Ryu has made 12 starts and has walked just five batters after tossing seven more scoreless innings on Tuesday night.
NATIONAL LEAGUE RESERVES
C Yasmani Grandal, Brewers – The Brewers brought Grandal in to upgrade their offense at the catcher spot and he has done just that, hitting .281/.374/.536. He additionally is one of the top pitch framers in the game and is second among active MLB catchers in Strike Zone Runs Saved since 2015.
C J.T. Realmuto, Phillies – Realmuto has given the Phillies exactly what they expected. He has hit a solid .272/.324/.447 and has been excellent defensively with an MLB leading 51% caught-stealing rate. Arguably the best catcher in baseball last season with Miami, Realmuto should head to his second straight All-Star game, this time in a Phillies uniform.
1B Anthony Rizzo, Cubs – Rizzo was another slow starter, hitting just .222/.358.478 in April but returned to form in May with a blistering .355/.435/.688 slash line for the month.
1B Freddie Freeman, Braves – Freeman is quietly having another spectacular season, hitting .311/.401/.598. For all the attention Bell has gotten this season, Freeman’s 2.6 WAR only trails Bell’s 2.7 WAR by a hair.
2B Mike Moustakas, Brewers – Moustakas has been a terrific offensive player for the Brewers this season with a .907 OPS and 18 home runs. He is back at second base with Travis Shaw returning and has done a solid job defensively with just one error committed.
3B Anthony Rendon, Nationals – If not for Arenado, Rendon would easily crack the starting lineup. He has hit a blazing .322/.429/.638 and is fourth on the majors in OPS. Rendon will likely earn a huge contract this offseason as one of the top free agents on the market.
3B Kris Bryant, Cubs – Bryant started slow but hit .333 with 10 home runs in May. His versatility has helped Joe Maddon too, as he has started games at third base, right field, left field and first base. It’s safe to say his shoulder is healthy again.
SS Trevor Story, Rockies – His 37 home runs, 108 RBI, 88 runs scored and 27 steals were all career highs by a wide margin last season, and he’s on pace to approach or top all of those this year. He’s also fourth among MLB shortstops in dWAR.
SS Paul DeJong, Cardinals – DeJong has increased his walk rate and decreased his strikeout rate, which combined with his plus power and solid defense make one of the league’s best all-around players even better.
OF Bryce Harper, Phillies – Harper has not put up the Hall of Fame numbers that many were expecting when he signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies in the offseason, but he has quietly had a very solid year. He has hit .250/.355/.475 and is one pace for 30 home runs and 100 walks. He also is fifth among NL outfielders in WAR.
OF Juan Soto, Nationals – Soto had an incredible month of May, hitting .380/.451/.676. The 25-year-old from the Dominican Republic is building on a terrific rookie season last year and is a rising star.
OF Joc Pederson, Dodgers – Pederson benefits from the Dodgers aggressive platooning as he gets on base nearly 40% percent of the time against right handers with a 1.086 OPS, while being restricted to only 24 at bats this season against left handers.
P Max Scherzer, Nationals – His 3-5 record so far is well below his standard, but he still has a 3.06 ERA and leads the league in innings pitched and strikeouts.
P Stephen Strasburg, Nationals – Strasburg is the MLB leader in Deserved Run Average, which accounts for, among other things, ballpark factors, team defense and quality of opponents. Strasburg has overcome the Nationals’ subpar defense to produce one of his best seasons yet.
P Mike Soroka, Braves – Soroka fell just short of becoming the first pitcher in the past century to allow one earned or fewer in each of his first nine starts in a season. His 1.38 ERA is largely the result of him allowing just one home run all season.
P Jacob deGrom, Mets – He has not been as dominant as last season, but he is still third in the NL in strikeouts. He beats out Pete Alonso, who struggled mightily in May, as the Mets' representative on the NL roster.
P Zack Greinke, Diamondbacks – Greinke has a 2.42 ERA and a strikeout rate better than 7-to-1 since getting rocked in the season opener. He changes speeds and moves the ball around so effectively, particularly with his ephus curve that has been unhittable.
P Luis Castillo, Reds – Castillo has been one of the breakout stars on the mound this season with a 2.45 ERA. He’s walking nearly a batter every other inning but makes up for it with an elite strikeout rate and a groundball rate near 60%.
P German Márquez, Rockies – Márquez is tied with Scherzer for the league lead in innings, which is impressive since he pitches half his games at the most hitter friendly ballpark in baseball. Even more impressive is his 2.08 ERA and .167 average allowed on the road.
P Caleb Smith, Marlins – Smith is the lone Marlins representative with his 3.10 ERA and NL leading strikeout rate.
P Kirby Yates, Padres – Yates has been the best closer in baseball this year and is on pace for almost 60 saves.
P Will Smith, Giants – Smith will be a coveted bullpen arm at the trade deadline as he has struck out eight times more batters than he has walked this season, along with going a perfect 14 for 14 on save opportunities.
P Josh Hader, Brewers – Hader has struck out 57 of the 108 batters he has faced this season and has converted 15 of his 16 save opportunities.
AMERICAN LEAGUE STARTERS
C Gary Sánchez, Yankees – After a forgettable 2018 season, Sánchez has broken out with a .964 OPS and 19 home runs to start 2019. He still has his defensive deficiencies, but Sánchez has been the driving force to a Yankees lineup that sits atop the AL East despite all of their injuries.
1B Carlos Santana, Cleveland – There are no obvious choices at this position, but Santana has been rock solid, hitting .286/.405/.518 with 12 home runs and more walks than strikeouts.
2B DJ LeMahieu, Yankees – LeMahieu has been the best overall second baseman in the AL this season, hitting .317/.365/.471 with a 2.3 WAR. He gets the nod over Tommy La Stella because of his superior defense.
SS Jorge Polanco, Twins – Polanco is one of only six players currently with a line of better than .300/.400/.500 and is tied for fourth in the MLB with a 3.6 WAR. Just 25 years old, he could battle Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts and Francisco Lindor for the title of best AL shortstop for years to come.
3B Alex Bregman, Astros – Bregman finished fifth in the AL MVP voting last season and has been even better in 2019. Bregman has elite power with 18 home runs and .944 OPS, while also drawing more walks than strikeouts. Further, he has gone from being a defensive liability to a top five defensive third basemen, per Baseball Info Solutions’ Defensive Runs Saved.
OF Mike Trout, Angels – Still at only 27 years old, Trout would already be a first ballot Hall of Famer if his career ended today. After signing the largest contract ever in American sports earlier this season, Trout’s 4.2 WAR is second in the MLB behind Bellinger. He also boasts a 1.070 OPS to go along with 58 walks to 44 strikeouts.
OF Joey Gallo, Rangers – Gallo’s 1.074 OPS leads the AL and his 3.2 WAR is tied for second in the league. He has been better than expected defensively in center field as well.
OF George Springer, Astros – Springer will make his third straight All-Star game and is having his best season yet at 29 years old. He is hitting .308/.389/.643 with 17 home runs, and his 2.6 WAR ranks second behind Gallo among AL outfielders.
DH Daniel Vogelbach, Mariners – J.D. Martinez would be the better pick here, but the Mariners don’t really have another good option. Vogelbach has slashed a .253/.386/.544 line this season with 15 home runs. His 39 walks to 50 strikeouts ratio is very solid too.
P Justin Verlander, Astros – Verlander holds a 9-2 record with a 2.40 ERA and is third in the MLB in strikeouts. Even at 36 years old, he has somehow gotten even better since being traded to the Astros in 2017.
AMERICAN LEAGUE RESERVES
C Robinson Chirinos, Astros – The backup catcher spot is a difficult choice with Jason Castro, Christian Vasquez, James McCann and Pedro Severino all having strong cases, but Chirinos leads all MLB catchers in WAR at 2.5. Chirinos is hitting .316 with a 1.480 OPS to start June and has been excellent defensively for a terrific Houston pitching staff.
1B Luke Voit, Yankees – Voit has become one of the most productive first basemen in the league since St. Louis sent him to New York. He strikes out nearly double the times he walks, but has blasted 15 home runs with an .871 OPS.
2B Tommy La Stella, Angels – La Stella has enjoyed a breakout season since the Cubs cast him off to Los Angeles. He is hitting .315/.374/.527 and has struck out only 16 times this season.
2B Whit Merrifield, Royals – LeMahieu and La Stella have had the better seasons, but the Royals still need a player on the roster. Merrifield didn’t make his MLB debut until he was 27 but then led the league in steals two years later and is having his best season yet.
SS Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox – Bogaerts last season hit 23 home runs with 103 RBIs and he is on pace to top both those totals in 2019.
SS Francisco Lindor, Indians – Lindor has played only 44 games this season but Cleveland hosting helps his case. Lindor at 25 has already established himself as one of the top players in baseball and is hitting .302/.372/.547.
3B Matt Chapman, Athletics – Chapman’s 3.2 WAR is second among AL position players. He is one of the top defensive infielders in baseball and has 16 home runs this season.
3B Hunter Dozier, Twins – If Dozier is on the DL much longer then he will likely lose this spot to Rafael Devers, but Dozier’s .314/.398/.589 breakout has been one of the biggest surprises in the league this year.
OF Trey Mancini, Orioles – Michael Brantley and Byron Buxton are each probably more deserving here, but an Oriole still needs to be included. Mancini has had a stellar year hitting .304/.356/.549.
OF Mookie Betts, Red Sox – The 2018 AL MVP has taken a step back this season but he has still hit a respectable .268/.385/.456 and remains one of the top center fielders in the game. Buxton is slugging at a higher rate and has an identical WAR to Betts, but Betts gets on base more often and has a far superior strikeout to walk ratio.
OF Austin Meadows, Rays – Some will be surprised to see Tommy Pham left off the roster, but Meadows has had a spectacular year. He’s hitting a scorching .345/.418/.632 with 12 home runs on the year.
P Lucas Giolito, White Sox – The 24-year old Giolito has been dominant since coming off the IL. He is 8-1 with a 2.54 ERA with a changeup that has given opposing hitters fits. His command is vastly improved from a year ago. Giolito has Cy Young Award potential if he can keep up his stellar play.
P Jake Odorizzi, Twins – His 83.6 percent strand rate and 5.3 percent homer-per-flyball rate, combined with the fact his career ERA is 3.82, suggest that Odorizzi is probably due for a bit of a decline. However, he is 8-2 this season with an AL best 1.96 ERA.
P Blake Snell, Rays – Snell’s ERA jumped to 3.68 after allowing six earned runs against Detroit on Tuesday, but the 2018 AL Cy Young winner increased his already high strikeout rate, while cutting down his walk rate. Snell is still one of the best pitchers in the game and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him pitch himself back into the AL Cy Young conversation.
P Matthew Boyd, Tigers – Boyd does not get much help from the team around him, but he ranks in the top 10 among MLB starters in OPS allowed and is fifth in the majors in strikeouts.
P Mike Minor, Rangers – Minor is third in the MLB in WAR as a pitcher, which does not happen often. Opposing hitters are hitting just .188 against his changeup this season.
P Charlie Morton, Rays – Morton was a first-time All-Star last season at 34 years old and has been arguably even better in 2019. His 2.30 ERA ranks third in the AL and is sixth in the league in strikeout rate.
P Gerrit Cole, Astros – Cole has blossomed into a star since being traded to the Astros. His 3.72 ERA is not spectacular, but his 130 strikeouts lead the MLB.
P Jose Berrios, Twins –Berrios was an All-Star last season and he has cut way down on his walk rate and improved his efficiency this season.
P Ryan Pressly, Astros – Pressly is arguably the best relief pitcher in the AL right now. Even after allowing two earned runs in the past week, he still has just a 0.93 ERA and an eight to one strikeout to walk rate.
P Brad Hand, Indians – Hand has converted all 19 of his save opportunities and has allowed just three earned runs through 27.2 innings. He should be headed to his third straight All-Star game.
P Ken Giles, Blue Jays – Giles has blown just one save this season with a 1.08 ERA. He has also struck out six times more batters than he has walked.
Will Desautelle is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
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Junior / Broadcast Journalism and Political Science