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Mike Trout: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Chicago

The 2018 MLB All-Star Game Fan Vote: Who Should Make the Starting Lineups & Why

Voting for the MLB All-Star has officially begun, giving fans the ability to select which offensive players deserve to take the field during this year’s Midsummer Classic. While you can vote for just about any player you want, especially if you just want to see guys from your favorite team take up most of the space, there are, of course, certain players who belong on All-Star rosters more than others from a purely objective standpoint, whether that be due to a particularly great standout season, or if they are simply the best at their position. With that in mind, here are my thoughts on who should be starting on the offensive side of their respective league’s All-Star team.

american league

First Base: Mitch Moreland, Boston Red Sox (.303 BA, 10 HR, 30 RBI, 1 SB, 1.7 WAR)

-Moreland has spent most of his 9-year career has a pretty average first baseman, hovering around .255 and 22ish home runs every season. However, his second year as a member of the Red Sox is proving to be his best season yet, as he’s on pace for his best single-season totals for hits, home runs, and RBIs of his entire career. Considering the fact that Boston has been the Majors’ best offense so far this season thanks in part to Moreland’s contributions, his performance this year certainly warrants him to join his first All-Star team.

Second Base: Jose Altuve, Houston Astros (.338 BA, 4 HR, 31 RBI, 9 SB, 2.8 WAR)

-Altuve is one of baseball’s best players and is easily the best second baseman in the Majors. After a stellar MVP campaign in 2017, he has spent the first few months of 2017 that he remains as elite a pro baseball player as there is. While he’s not on pace to outperform his 2017-self, Altuve is still the best option at his position in either league.

Shortstop: Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles (.332 BA, 18 HR, 50 RBI, 3 SB, 2.3 WAR)

-Although Machado is likely to leave Baltimore in free agency after the season’s end, the Orioles are certainly getting a great final taste of what the young infielder has to offer. The 25-year-old is having his best season yet, playing at elite levels both at the plate and in the infield. While it could be argued that Carlos Correa is the better shortstop, Machado is having a much better season and deserves to start at shortstop for the AL.

Third Base: Mike Moustakas, Kansas City Royals (.272 BA, 12 HR, 40 RBI, 1 SB, 1.3 WAR)

-It’s a bit of a down year for AL third basemen, especially with Manny Machado manning shortstop full time now, but Moustakas is still building on an impressive season. He was an All-Star last year, and he’s currently on pace to surpass his RBI total and OBP from 2017 while maintaining the same batting average. While he may not be as elite as other infielders, Moustakas is still worthy of an All-Star start in 2018.

Catcher: Gary Sánchez, New York Yankees (.201 BA, 12 HR, 35 RBI, 0 SB, 0.9 WAR)

-Don’t let his poor batting average fool you: Sánchez is doing more than his fair share of work in the middle of a potent Yankees lineup. An All-Star in 2017, Sánchez is on pace to have more home runs and RBIs than he did last year, and despite his poor average (which is he almost certain to approve upon), he still has a solid OBP of .303. Expect to see him as the AL’s starter behind the plate.

Left Field: Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox (.359 BA, 17 HR, 37 RBI, 13 SB, 4.1 WAR)

-Betts is having a phenomenal 2018 and is one of the clear frontrunners for AL MVP. Prior to the season’s start, he was already lauded as one of baseball’s best outfielders, and has spent this season proving that he is one of the best overall players in the sport. 37 RBIs at the beginning of June while primarily hitting leadoff is pretty incredible, and he’s also tied for leading the Majors in runs scored. Betts leads all of baseball in batting average and is currently tied for fifth in home runs, making him all but guaranteed to garner a starting spot on the AL’s All-Star roster.

Center Field: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels (.311 BA, 19 HR, 39 RBI, 13 SB, 5.5 WAR)

-Simply put, Mike Trout is the best baseball player in the world and has grown into one of the most dominant all-around threats the sport has ever seen. He’s a lock for an All-Star starting spot every year, but his 2018 has been particularly marvelous, as he could very well finish it off as perhaps the greatest season in baseball history. Case and point: his 5.5 WAR in early June is on pace to shatter Babe Ruth’s single-season record of 14.1. Trout is already in line for his third AL MVP award, and at only 26-years-old, he could just now be entering his prime. We could be looking at an all-time great here, folks.

Right Field: Aaron Judge, New York Yankees (.274 BA, 17 HR, 43 RBI, 3 SB, 3.2 WAR)

-All Rise continues to (ahem) rise up the ranks of baseball’s best players, smashing some of the biggest and most dramatic home runs we’ve seen from anybody in a long time. He definitely still strikes out too much, but that’s something he’ll improve with experience. And even with such bad strikeout numbers, Judge still ranks third in the AL with a .401 OBP simply because his power capabilities are so scary. He’s been steadily improving as a fielder, making some fantastic plays in right field over the course of this season, but it’s definitely his bat which will put him on the AL’s All-Star starting roster.

Designated Hitter: JD Martinez, Boston Red Sox (.314, 20 HR, 52 RBI, 1 SB, 2.3 WAR)

-It looks like Boston struck gold in free agency during the last offseason, as Martinez has lived up to everything expected of him after an incredible second half of 2017. He has solidified this year’s Red Sox lineup and has played an integral part in making them baseball’s highest-scoring offense. Although he’s an extremely lackluster fielder, Martinez has found a home in the middle of Boston’s lineup as their DH, a role perfectly suited for his talents. I wouldn’t be tremendously surprised to see Giancarlo Stanton take this spot, but Martinez certainly deserves it.

national league

First Base: Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves (.338 BA, 11 HR, 43 RBI, 5 SB, 3.0 WAR)

-Freeman has quietly been one of baseball’s most underrated superstars for a few years now, but has only made two All-Star appearances. This could very well be due to the fact that he’s spent most of his career playing for a mediocre Braves team, but that excuse can’t be made anymore considering the fact that Atlanta is tied for first place in the NL East thanks in large part to Freeman’s contributions in the middle of their lineup. He’s on pace for arguably the best season of his career, on pace to have his best single-season batting average ever while matching his home run and RBI totals. What’s more, he also leads the NL in OBP, which is always a big help.

Second Base: Scooter Gennett, Cincinnati Reds (.344 BA, 12 HR, 44 RBI, 1 SB, 2.5)

-Gennett has spent 2018 proving that his 2017 breakout campaign was no fluke: this guy is for real. Not only has his ability to hit for power become legit, but he also ranks behind only Mookie Betts and Matt Kemp for the MLB league in batting average. Gennett continues to get better and better as the season goes on, and really the only things that could prevent him from starting for the NL in this year’s All-Star game are the Reds’ poor performance as an overall team and a lack of exposure.

Shortstop: Trea Turner, Washington Nationals (.258 BA, 7 HR, 24 RBI, 17 SB, 2.1 WAR)

Brandon Crawford might be having a better season with the bat, but I don’t he’s been that much better than Turner to prevent the Nats’ shortstop from getting the starting spot for the NL. The 23-year-old Turner has evolved into one of baseball’s most potent base-stealers, and his .342 batting average during his rookie season in 2016 proves that he’s a great hitter as well. His batting numbers are sure to pick up soon, so he should garner plenty of votes before the All-Star game comes around.

Third Base: Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies (.327 BA, 12 HR, 36 RBI, 2 SB, 2.5 WAR)

-Arenado has just about everything you could want from a third baseman: a fantastic power bat, the ability to hit for average, a quick glove, and a cannon for an arm. The 27-year-old has been an All-Star every year from 2015 and finished in the top 5 of NL MVP voting in both 2016 and 2017. He has already established himself as arguably the best at his position in all of baseball, with perhaps only Kris Bryant providing any question on that front, and will almost certainly be the NL’s starter on the hot corner.

Catcher: JT Realmuto, Miami Marlins (.311 BA, 6 HR, 19 RBI, 1 SB, 2.3 WAR)

-While Buster Posey is more likely to get the starting nod, I would argue that Realmuto is having a better season overall and is very close to being recognized as a top 3 offensive catcher in baseball. After missing the first couple of weeks of the 2018 season due to injury, Realmuto has come back in full force and is on pace for what will likely be his best season to date. However, given how terrible the Marlins are and how nobody watches them, Realmuto probably won’t get the recognition he deserves, although he does belong as the start behind the plate for the NL.

Left Field: Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers (.349 BA, 10 HR, 40 RBI, 0 SB, 2.1 WAR)

-Tale about rejuvenation. After spending the first couple of years of the 2010’s as an MVP candidate, Kemp’s production has slowed over the years. He’s been good, don’t get me wrong, but not great. However, he looks to be back to his old self at 33-years-old, as he’s on pace for what could be his best season since his last All-Star appearance in 2012. Kemp’s nowhere near the base-stealer he once was, but his bat has been fantastic and has played a huge part in helping to keep the injury-riddled Dodgers afloat in the NL West.

Center Field: Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals (.229 BA, 18 HR, 40 RBI, 5 SB, 1.0 WAR)

-After starting off the season scorching hot, Harper has slowed down a bit but still remains one of the best bats in baseball. Despite his lackluster batting average, Harper’s intimidation factor has still warranted pitchers to walk him 48 times, second only to Mike Trout’s 52. This has helped Harper maintain a very nice OBP of .367, a number which will only grow higher as his hitting improves as the season moves long. One of the most popular players in the sport, Harper is basically locked in as a starting outfielder for the NL.

Right Field: Nick Markakis, Atlanta Braves (.328 BA, 8 HR, 42 RBI, 1 SB, 2.2 WAR)

-If you want to talk more about older veterans completely outdoing themselves, look no further than Markakis, who, at 34-years-old, is on pace for perhaps the best season of his 13-year-career. Along with Freddie Freeman and Ozzie Albies, Markakis has played a huge role in helping the Braves escape obscurity and genuinely deserves to start in the All-Star game. It probably won’t happen given that most people have forgotten about him, but it would still be great to see.

The 2018 MLB All-Star game is set to take place in Washington DC on July 17, and you’ll be able to catch it on your local Fox network. You can choose the All-Stars for yourself on MLB.com right here.

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Written by Mike Conn