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MLB All-Star Teams – Most Deserving Players at Each Position

Gary Sanchez, New York Yankees and Yasmani Grandal, Milwaukee Brewers - 2019 MLB ALL-Stars Game Logo

MLB All-Star voting is now open, leading up until the July 9th All-Star game from Progressive Field in Cleveland.

Fan Voting can often go awry as it’s been a popularity contest in the past rather than players who deserve to represent their teams and leagues in the Mid-Summer Classic.

I’ll eliminate the popularity contest right here and now and tell you who I believe deserves to be in Cleveland for the 2019 All-Star game.

And don’t forget you can check our MLB betting guide to get prepared for this event.

*Stats as of 6/14/2019

American League

Catcher: Gary Sanchez (NYY)

  • Slash Line: .262/.330/.615
  • HR: 20
  • wRC+: 144
  • WAR: 1.6

There’s actually some real quality catching options on this ballot including Robinson Chirinos, James McCann and Jason Castro (Mitch Garver isn’t on the ballot), but there’s little doubt Sanchez deserves the honor.

With the injury-plagued Yankees are playing without the power bats of Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, Sanchez has kept the Bombers afloat with 20 long balls this season, nine more than any other catcher in the AL this season.

His 1.6 WAR is tied with Garver for tops in the AL among catchers while his 144 wRC+ leads all catchers on the ballot. There’s not much of a choice here at the end of the day.

First Base: Carlos Santana (CLE)

  • Slash Line: .286/.406/.530
  • HR: 14
  • wRC+: 144
  • WAR: 2.0

Santana has been the lone bright spot in an otherwise wildly disappointing season in Cleveland.

He’s taken his elite plate discipline to a whole new level this season with his 16.4% walk rate currently exceeding his 16% strikeout rate, one of the rarest feats in all of baseball.

His 144 wRC+ and 2.0 WAR lead all AL first baseman while his .286 batting average is tied with Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera for the top mark among AL first basemen on the ballot.

He might fall behind several others in the power department – a long-time criterion at the first base position – but in terms of overall run production Santana has been the best first baseman in the American League this season.

It doesn’t hurt that he would be playing in front of his home crowd, either.

Second Base: Tommy La Stella (LAA)

  • Slash Line: .304/.361/.531
  • HR: 15
  • wRC+: 141
  • WAR: 2.2

This one is about as tight as it gets as Tampa Bay’s Brandon Lowe has posted numbers almost identical to La Stella so far this season, but I’m giving the nod to the veteran who has been one of baseball’s most remarkable stories this season.

A career .273 hitter with a .128 ISO and 10 home runs prior to this season, La Stella has exploded in 2019. His 15 home runs in 249 plate appearances this season are five more than the 10 he hit over the first 947 plate appearances of his big league career.

Largely very much a part-time player with the Cubs from 2015-2018, La Stella never cracked more than 192 plate appearances with the Cubs while his career-high to this point was in his lone season with the Braves when he stepped to the dish 260 times in 2014.

The guy is only striking out 8% of the time to boot while his 141 wRC+ leads all AL second baseman and his 2.2 WAR is tied with Lowe for tops in that department.

What a story it’s been and the guy should be in Cleveland in early July.

Third Base: Alex Bregman (HOU)

  • Slash Line: .271/.398/.538
  • HR: 18
  • wRC+: 153
  • WAR: 3.1

Hunter Dozier’s breakout season is worthy of an All-Star appearance as well, but if we are talking all-round play Bregman is the man.

Due to his much-superior glove to Dozier, Bregman’s 3.1 WAR is by far the best numbers among AL second basemen with Dozier’s 2.3 mark checking in at second.

He’s also far superior in the home run and RBI categories while his walk rate of 16.7% far exceeds his strikeout clip of just 12.4%.

Not only is he the deserving starting third baseman for the AL at the All-Star game, but very much a threat to win the American League MVP this season.

Shortstop: Jorge Polanco (MIN)

  • Slash Line: .338/.397/.569
  • HR: 10
  • wRC+: 153
  • WAR: 2.9

The shortstop position is absolutely loaded with Xander Bogaerts, Tim Anderson, Francisco Lindor, Gleyber Torres, Elvis Andrus, and Carlos Correa all having wonderful years for their respective teams.

Still, it’s hard to argue with Polanco who has been an absolute sparkplug for the Minnesota Twins.

After serving a PED-related suspension in the first half of the last season, Polanco’s stock was at an all-time low. Fast forward to 2019 and he’s in the MVP conversation while only Bogaerts’ 3.0 WAR tops the 2.9-mark Polanco has put forth this season.

That said, his .338 batting average is on pace to win him the AL batting title while his 153 wRC+ is by far the best mark among AL shortstops with Correa’s 143-mark checking in at second.

He does a little bit of everything for his club and is very much the deserving candidate to start the All-Star game for the junior circuit.

Outfield: Mike Trout (LAA)

  • Slash Line: .286/.457/.613
  • HR: 18
  • wRC+: 181
  • WAR: 4.4

Surprised?

Trout is once again leaving the rest of baseball in the dust in terms of his overall play as his 4.4 WAR is second only to the insane season Cody Bellinger is putting together, but in terms of his American League counterparts, the closest player is Joey Gallo and his 3.3-mark.

Trout is another player on this list with a walk rate exceeding his strikeout rate as his 21.1% free pass clip is superior to his 17.6% strikeout rate.

His 181 wRC+ is best among all American Leaguers with George Springer checking in at second with his 172-mark.

There is no player that even touches Trout in terms of all-round play in the American League this season and he is once again easily a starter in the Mid-Summer Classic.

Outfield: George Springer (HOU)

  • Slash Line: .308/.389/.643
  • HR: 17
  • wRC+: 172
  • WAR: 2.8

Springer is currently on the shelf with a hamstring issue but should be back soon and in plenty of time to play in the All-Star game.

If it weren’t for Trout, Springer would be the top all-round outfielder in the American League, albeit not by much.

He’s a power threat the plate, a speed threat on the bases and you been hard-pressed to find someone who plays with more heart and intensity in the field, sometimes to his own detriment.

He’s the catalyst when healthy atop that Astros lineup and the offense just doesn’t look the same without him in that spot.

He’s very much a deserving member of the American League starting lineup.

Outfield: Outfield: Joey Gallo (TEX)

  • Slash Line: .276/.421/.653
  • HR: 17
  • wRC+: 170
  • WAR: 3.3

We all knew Gallo was a huge power threat after clubbing 81 home runs over the first two seasons of his big league career but did we know that he was going to be among the leaders in some advanced metrics considering his eye-popping strikeout rates and questionable defense?

That’s indeed been the case this season as Gallo’s 3.3 WAR is second only to Trout among AL outfielders despite striking out at an ugly 35.5% of the time still.

However, he’s walking at an absurd 19.6% clip and he’s logged a +6 defensive runs saved, as per FanGraphs, in the outfield this season.

To be quite honest, the strikeouts are about the only part of Gallo’s game that can be frowned upon at this point as he has clearly been one of the best outfielders in the American League this season.

Designated Hitter: Dan Vogelbach (SEA)

  • Slash Line: .266/.395/.562
  • HR: 17
  • wRC+: 158
  • WAR: 2.0

Former teammate Nelson Cruz could be an option if we are considering past performance, but boy has Vogelbach had a big season and is deserving of an All-Star spot to be sure.

He’s been a massive power threat at the dish with a huge.296 ISO that ranks second on the ballot only to Hunter Pence and his .304 mark, but Vogelbach leads Pence in both home runs, WAR, and wRC+, so he gets my vote.

The Mariners are surely thrilled with their 26-year-old first baseman/DH.

National League

Catcher: Yasmani Grandal (MIL)

  • Slash Line: .283/.380/.557
  • HR: 15
  • wRC+: 140
  • WAR: 2.8

Grandal only landed a one-year deal in a suppressed free agent market this past offseason, but boy is that deal proving to be of great value to his new team as the Brewers have squeezed a 2.8 WAR out of him through the first 61 games of the season.

Grandal is flexing plenty of muscle with those 15 homers while he leads the ballot in home runs, WAR, and wRC+.

It’s interesting to see him perform so well in Milwaukee after some cringe-worthy blunders there in the postseason last year, but Grandal has been everything they’ve hoped for a more in his first season as a Brewer.

First Base: Josh Bell (PIT)

  • Slash Line: .320/.389/.653
  • HR: 19
  • wRC+: 165
  • WAR: 2.3

Bell wasn’t doing a whole lot as the Pirates first baseman in each of the last two seasons as he failed to record one win above replacement in those years despite a wRC+ of at least 108 both times.

However, after what can surely be considered a disappointing 2018 season when he homered just 12 times with a .150 ISO, Bell has broken out in a massive way with 19 home runs, a 2.3 WAR and a 165 wRC+ this season, the latter of which leads all NL first basemen.

There are some quality candidates on the NL side of first base this season, but Bell’s breakout deserves the starting nod at the All-Star game.

Second Base: Mike Moustakas (MIL)

  • Slash Line: .278/.346/.598
  • HR: 21
  • wRC+: 141
  • WAR: 2.5

The only real competition to Moustakas at this position would be D-backs second baseman Ketel Marte who is having a breakout season in the desert, however, this one isn’t too hard to pick.

After trading for him at the deadline last season, The Brewers brought Moustakas back in the offseason and it’s worked out swimmingly. Among the second baseman on the ballot, Moustakas’ 141 wRC+ is by far the best while his 2.5 WAR edges Marte and 2.4-mark.

It’s been doubly impressive to see him perform like this despite switching infield positions to second base, so let’s give him the starting nod.

Third Base: Anthony Rendon (WAS)

  • Slash Line: .315/.416/.645
  • HR: 14
  • wRC+: 169
  • WAR: 3.0

The Nationals have yet another free agent decision on their hands this winter, this time with Rendon who will be a highly sought-after commodity on the market to be sure.

Nolan Arenado might have something to say about this, but there’s one star that gives Rendon the nod by a landslide: his 169 wRC+.

wRC+ takes park factors into consideration and levels the playing field. Therefore, Rendon’s 169 wRC+ towers over Arenado’s 135-mark because the latter plays his home games at Coors Field in Colorado, by far the best hitter’s park in baseball. With park factors accounted for, Rendon has been the much better bat despite his 3.0 WAR lagging Arenado’s 3.1-mark.

It’s fair to wonder where the Nationals would be without his MVP-type play this season.

Shortstop: Javier Baez (CHC)

  • Slash Line: .296/.334/.567
  • HR: 17
  • wRC+: 130
  • WAR: 2.8

Baez strikes out too much and doesn’t walk enough, which is why his 2.8 WAR is only tied with the Cardinals’ Paul DeJong for the best mark in the NL among shortstops.

Still, I aside from Trevor Story, this one isn’t difficult, either.

Baez leads the ballot with 17 homers and his 130 wRC+ mark is second only to rookie Fernando Tatis Jr. who despite a strong rookie year, has played about half the games of Baez which no doubt is a factor in my opinion.

Baez’s ability to hit both left and right-handed pitching for power, a stark contrast from earlier in his career, is some sort of impressive. He’s not running as much with just two steals on the season, but I would expect that number to increase as the season moves along.

In terms of pure all-round production at the position, Baez is hands down my starting shortstop for the senior circuit at the Mid-Summer Classic.

Outfield: Cody Bellinger (LAD)

  • Slash Line: .358/.449/.704
  • HR: 22
  • wRC+: 194
  • WAR: 4.8

There’s going to be zero surprises in the first two outfield spots in the NL as Bellinger is having a season that we haven’t seen in quite some time.

I mean, if you lead Mike Trout by 0.4 WAR, you’re doing something right.

Bellinger is crushing the baseball, clearly, with a .356 ISO and 1.153 OPS on the season while he’s actually been the game’s best defender as per FanGraphs Defensive Runs Saved metric with a +20 mark on the season with San Diego’s Austin Hedges ranking second at +16.

He can play first base and any outfield position, adding versatility to his wildly impressive resume for 2019. We knew he was good with the bat when he homered 39 times as a rookie, however, he fell to 25 last season to add some doubt.

That doubt is completely wiped out now as Bellinger has been the best all-round player in baseball this season.

Outfield: Christian Yelich (MIL)

  • Slash Line: .345/.446/.749
  • HR: 25
  • wRC+: 195
  • WAR: 4.3

Yelich has Bellinger beat in the home run and wRC+ categories, but Bellinger still has a notable 0.5-WAR lead on the 2018 National League MVP.

Still, there’s obviously a whole bunch of things to like about Yelich in his quest for back-to-back MVPs.

He actually leads Bellinger by quite a wide margin in ISO with a .404 mark, the best mark in all of baseball. His slugging percentage of .749 is simply ridiculous.

If all the power weren’t enough, his 14 stolen bases ranks him first in the NL as well.

It’s going to be fun to watch these two duke it out all season long for 2019 NL MVP honors.

Outfield: Marcell Ozuna (STL)

  • Slash Line: .264/.336/.537
  • HR: 18
  • wRC+: 126
  • WAR: 1.8

There’s certainly some options when we come down to our third outfielder in the NL, but Ozuna is my pick.

He’s been the best bat the Cardinals have had to offer this season and his 1.8 WAR ranks him sixth on the ballot.

The one issue holding that WAR number back is his so-so defense, but I also like the fact that Ozuna has added a speed element to his game this season as his six steals are already a career-high after stealing just six bases in the last four seasons combined.

You have to respect someone adding another element to their game after putting up All-Star worthy performances in the past. Ozuna’s bat has carried his team and despite a wealth of quality options, I think he deserves to be quite possibly the Cardinals’ lone representative at the All-Star Game – and a starter to boot.

Brenton Kemp / author

Brenton is a lifelong sports fan who resides in Ontario, Canada. Brenton is a fan of most all sports but specializes in hockey, baseball, football, basketball, and golf. He’s a fierce researcher with a strong appetite to deliver accurate and relevant facts that in turn have led to past success with picks and DFS advice across the board. Brenton’s biggest goal is to deliver readers with the picks and advice that can build their bankroll. He takes great pride in his success and loves nothing more than to share that success for the benefit of everyone involved.

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