In a few days, we learn who makes the MLB All-Star Game. With so many players having so many great seasons, it’s looking to be an All-Star Game for the ages, great pitching facing great hitting.
The American League in particular is stacked. Their starting pitchers might not be as good as the NL aces, but there are some big time hitters here that could easily neutralize them. I’m not anticipating a lot of confusing choices. It won’t even be difficult to pick representatives from the worst AL teams.
So who is going to make it this year? These are my predictions for the roster. It should be noted that this is not necessarily the starting lineup and roster I think should be representing the American League, but instead who I think the fans, players, and coaches will decide on.
Here are my predictions for the AL All-Star Team.
First Base: Eric Hosmer, Kansas City Royals
Second Base: Jose Altuve, Houston Astros
Third Base: Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles
Shortstop: Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox
Catcher: Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals
Outfield: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
Outfield: Jackie Bradley Jr., Boston Red Sox
Outfield: Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox
Designated Hitter: David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox
I’m not expecting any changes to the starting lineup from the last voting update. That third outfield spot has a lot of players gunning for it, but my guess is Betts holds his lead.
The fans, I think, are going to nail this lineup. There’s not much in the way of a bad choice. Hosmer maybe isn’t the best candidate to start at first, but even he’s having a good offensive year. Players like Altuve, Bogaerts, Perez, Trout, and Ortiz are the clear choices for their positions, and the fans seem to be recognizing that.
Machado has competition for best third baseman in the AL this season, but he’s had a splendid year and deserves his spot. Bradley Jr. and Betts are also probably the two best choices for the non-Trout outfield slot. A much better fan vote than the Cubs-heavy NL lineup.
First Base: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
First Base: Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles
Second Base: Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners
Second Base: Ian Kinsler, Detroit Tigers
Third Base: Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays
Third Base: Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays
Shortstop: Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians
Shortstop: Eduardo Nunez, Minnesota Twins
Catcher: Matt Wieters, Baltimore Orioles
Outfield: Ian Desmond, Texas Rangers
Outfield: Mark Trumbo, Baltimore Orioles
Outfield: Carlos Beltran, New York Yankees
Outfield: Lorenzo Cain, Kansas City Royals
Designated Hitter: Nelson Cruz, Seattle Mariners
There’s a lot of power in these reserves. Cabrera and Davis are veteran power hitters and are having great power years as per usual. Altuve is the clear best second baseman in the AL, but lost in that shuffle is Robinson Cano having an outstanding year in Seattle, hitting for the kind of power he did as a Yankee. Ian Kinsler is also having a solid year in pretty much all offensive aspects.
Third base is deep in the AL. Really deep. Josh Donaldson might even be having a better year than Machado, and as good a year as his MVP 2015 season. Evan Longoria, meanwhile, is having his best season in a few years. Francisco Lindor is having a great year for a red hot Cleveland team, and Eduardo Nunez is the lone Twins representative, hitting .316.
The less said about catchers in the AL, the better. Wieters makes it just so Salvador Perez doesn’t catch the whole game.
The outfield has some surprising choices. Ian Desmond is somehow the only Rangers player, indicative of how the team is having a lot of good seasons as opposed to a few players having great years. But Desmond, as well as Trumbo for Baltimore, is having a surprising comeback year. Carlos Beltran has had a comeback as well, and a surge in power that I think gets rewarded with a spot. And Lorenzo Cain isn’t having his 2015 season, but still good enough to warrant a spot. As for DH, Nelson Cruz gets the slot over Edwin Encarnacion.
Starter: Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox
Starter: Steven Wright, Boston Red Sox
Starter: Jordan Zimmermann, Detroit Tigers
Starter: Danny Salazar, Cleveland Indians
Starter: Jose Quintana, Chicago White Sox
Starter: Rich Hill, Oakland A’s
Starter: Marco Estrada, Toronto Blue Jays
Reliever: Dellin Betances, New York Yankees
Reliever: Andrew Miller, New York Yankees
Reliever: Zach Britton, Baltimore Orioles
Reliever: Wade Davis, Kansas City Royals
Reliever: Alex Colome, Tampa Bay Rays
Reliever: Craig Kimbrel, Boston Red Sox
So who takes the mound and starts for the AL this year? My guess is either Chris Sale, who has 13 wins for the White Sox, or Steven Wright, the Red Sox knuckleballer who came out of nowhere to pitch to an ERA just over 2. They have to be the frontrunners.
Beyond them, Jose Quintana has been far better than his 5-8 record suggests. Danny Salazar’s electric stuff has caused an absurd walk rate, but also a lot of strikeouts and a low ERA. Jordan Zimmermann’s ERA is higher than the other guys, but I’m guessing he sneaks in based off his amazing April. Rich Hill represents the Athletics, not having as many innings as the other starters but pitching better than most of them. And Marco Estrada gets in after his improvement from the past couple years.
Did you know the Yankees have not one, but two relievers that strike out 16 batters per 9 innings? They do and they’re both getting in. That’s just inhumanly good. Wade Davis’s peripherals aren’t great, but he’s got a 1.37 ERA and he’s Wade Davis, so I think he makes it. Zach Britton has maybe been the best full-time closer in baseball, while Colome and Kimbrel have piled on the saves and strikeouts in the AL East.
And those are my predictions for the AL roster. They’re going to have a deep bench and a deep bullpen. If they can score against the opposing aces and let Betances and Miller do their magic, they could get a win against the NL.