TGG's Picks for the 2016 MLB All-Stars
Beyond the skewed popular vote, This Great Game's Eric and Ed get real and reveal the players who truly belong in this year's All-Star Game.
By Eric Gouldsberry and Ed Attanasio, This Great Game
Posted June 28, 2016
Welcome to the sensible, honest and research-backed world of This Great Game, where our All-Star picks are not clouded by digital ballot stuffing, team loyalties and reputations that precede themselves. We admit only one bias, and that’s to those playing the best baseball through the first half of the 2016 season.
Once again, the vox populi of the baseball public has gone to extremes this year. As with the Royals for the American League 2015 All-Star team, it appears the 2016 starting National League lineup will consist primarily of Chicago Cubs. They’re the hot team, the flavor of the month, so we have an all-Wrigley infield and an outfield that includes Dexter Fowler, who’s accrued more votes than Bryce Harper. Whatever—I never agreed with those who picked the winners of America’s Got Talent, either.
One thing I thought of doing this year was to pick the All-Stars based on the players’ performances since the last All-Star Game, meaning that the second-half numbers of the 2015 counted just as much as the first half of 2016. Call this the Stephen Vogt rule, named after the Oakland catcher who went bananas to start the 2015 season, got the starting AL vote from both Ed Attanasio and I, and then came crashing back down to Earth for the season’s latter months. But then I thought, heck, this is all about the present; last season should not apply. So our picks are focused on who’s done what since Opening Day.
Check out our picks below, see if you agree, and enjoy the Bizarro All-Star Game in which the AL is the home team in a NL park.—Eric
Catcher, National League
Ed's choice: Wilson Ramos, Washington
Eric's choice: Wilson Ramos, Washington
Usual suspect Buster Posey has been terrific behind the dish by nailing basestealers and guiding a stellar rotation, but his offensive contributions have been mediocre by his standards—all while Ramos has been out of his mind, batting nearly 100 points above his career average. (His defense hasn’t been too shabby, either.) We know, we know—maybe Ramos will horribly regress after the break, someone will read this a year from now and ask what we were thinking, kind of like what you might be doing if you read last year’s picks and had a chuckle for our picking Stephen Vogt. But it’s all about the now, and Ramos is it.
Catcher, American League
Ed's choice: Salvador Perez, Kansas City
Eric's choice: Salvador Perez, Kansas City
One day the big, durable Royals catcher is going to break apart like the Bluesmobile. But until then he is clearly the AL’s best behind the plate, hitting and throwing better than any other backstop in the league.
First Base, National League
Ed's choice: Anthony Rizzo, Chicago
Eric's choice: Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona
A close call with many contenders including some not named above, like the Padres’ Wil Myers and the Giants’ Brandon Belt. Ed is jumping on the Cubs’ bandwagon and opting for Rizzo, who’s become a bedrock in the potent Chicago lineup; Eric sticks with Goldschmidt, who after a slow start has impressively kicked back into high gear and leads all first baseman in the alphabet soup (OBP, SLG, OPS) categories.
First Base, American League
Ed's choice: Eric Hosmer, Kansas City
Eric's choice: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit
Another disagreement. Hosmer has been a force of stability amid what has become a pendulum-swinging season to date for the defending champion Royals; Cabrera has continued to be, well, Cabrera—with the usual strong numbers and some of the best defense he’s ever played.
Second Base, National League
Ed's choice: Daniel Murphy, Washington
Eric's choice: Daniel Murphy, Washington
Well, one thing’s for sure: It won’t be Dee Gordon getting the nod again this year. Beyond that, there’s consensus on Murphy, whose league-leading hitting simply trumps other worthy candidates including the Rockies’ DJ LeMahieu (clearly the best glove), the Diamondbacks’ Jean Segura and leading vote-getter Ben Zobrist from the Cubs, but of course.
Second Base, American League
Ed's choice: Robinson Cano, Seattle
Eric's choice: Jose Altuve, Houston
Cano is having a terrific bounceback year, with already as many homers as he hit in each of first two full seasons at Seattle. So that’s where Ed’s going; Eric, meanwhile, is going where most voters are headed, and that’s with Altuve—who is an early and very viable candidate for the AL MVP.
Third Base, National League
Ed's choice: Nolan Arenado, Colorado
Eric's choice: Nolan Arenado, Colorado
Kris Bryant is reaping the benefits of the manic mouse-clicking/finger-pressing activity from Cubs fans the world over, but Eric and Ed see better and go with Arenado, who’s clearly the best at his post defensively, while continuing to put up impressive numbers at the plate—it doesn’t matter whether he’s at mile-high Coors Field or on the road, he’s dangerous all the same. Here’s a question for all you Cubs fans: You’re drafting your new fantasy team and Bryant and Arenado are both available at third base. Really, really—who are you going to choose? We thought so.
Third Base, American League
Ed's choice: Nick Castellanos, Detroit
Eric's choice: Manny Machado, Baltimore
Many solid choices to consider here. In the end, Ed emerges with a dark horse and opts for Castellanos, who with a little second-half bump could finish with a .300-30-100 line; Eric prefers Machado, even though he’s played most of the year at shortstop—but hey, the young Orioles star has long since proven that he can man the hot corner.
Shortstop, National League
Ed's choice: Trevor Story, Colorado
Eric's choice: Trevor Story, Colorado
Probably the toughest call among all the positions. First, you have to weed through the rookie parade with Dodgers standout Kyle Seager, the Cardinals’ sharp-hitting but lead-gloved Aledmys Diaz, or the Rockies’ Trevor Story (on pace for 40 homers and a million strikeouts) before you even consider veteran stalwarts like the Giants’ Brandon Crawford. (Oh, because it’s “the Cubs’ year,” voters have already made up their mind and opted for Addison Russell.) In the end, both Eric and Ed agree: It’s Story, warts and all—but also with power and some surprisingly strong defense.
Shortstop, American League
Ed's choice: Xander Bogaerts, Boston
Eric's choice: Xander Bogaerts, Boston
Bogaerts was the better player last year, too, but was swept aside by the tidal wave of Royals fans who voted for Alcides Escobar, over and over again. This season, righteousness prevails and Bogearts, leading the AL in hitting, will deservedly get the start over Escobar, who’s a distant second on the ballot.
Outfield, National League
Ed's choice: Marcell Ozuna, Miami; Starling Marte, Pittsburgh; Yoenis Cespedes, New York
Eric's choice: Marcell Ozuna, Miami; Gregory Polanco, Pittsburgh; Yoenis Cespedes, New York
The first half of 2016 has seen something of a shake-up in the NL outfielding power structure, with the big names (Bryce Harper, Giancarlo Stanton, Andrew McCutchen) all struggling both on the stat sheet and in the vote (except, of course, for Harper). That leaves Eric and Ed to opt for Cespedes (if for anything else, just to get him in the Home Run Derby), a couple Pirates (Marte and Polanco are both having outstanding seasons) and the surprise in Ozuna, who we assume with his strong start no longer has Jeffrey Loria’s doghouse in the rear view mirror.
Outfield, American League
Ed's choice: Mark Trumbo, Baltimore; Jackie Bradley Jr., Boston; Mookie Betts, Boston
Eric's choice: Mike Trout, Los Angeles of Anaheim; Jackie Bradley Jr., Boston; Mookie Betts, Boston
Bradley Jr. and Betts have completely energized the Red Sox both offensively and defensively and should cement starting spots, per both TGG and the voters. A difference of opinion on the third spot; Eric sides with Trout (who’s running away with the top vote), but Ed smells upset and likes Trumbo, having a marvelous time with the Orioles.
Designated Hitter, American League
Ed's choice: David Ortiz, Boston
Eric's choice: David Ortiz, Boston
Starting Pitcher, National League
Ed's choice: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles
Eric's choice: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles
There’s a lot of great pitching going on in the senior circuit—Jake Arrieta, Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Jose Fernandez, the list goes on and on—but Kershaw has simply been in a league of his own to start the year. A 0.73 WHIP? A 20-1 walks-to-strikeouts ratio? That is serious, stratospheric you-know-what.
Starting Pitcher, American League
Ed's choice: Chris Sale, Chicago
Eric's choice: Steven Wright, Boston
In stark comparison to the NL, the AL has hardly been dominated by fantastic pitching. So who do you pick? Ed goes with Sale, who baring injury or hard luck should win 20 games this season; Eric, meanwhile, is throwing a change-up in favor of knuckleballer Wright—because, besides being tops in league ERA, it would be so cool to see the NL’s top hitters (or Cubs) try to hit his knuckler, and for Salvador Perez to try and catch it. Also, Wright has never gotten his due credit for his dry voiceover in Reservoir Dogs. (Oh, sorry—wrong Steven Wright.)
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