Six tough decisions for MLB All-Star voters this season

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Next month, the best of the best that Major League Baseball has to offer will descend on the nation’s capital for the 89th MLB All-Star Game. Rosters comprised of the best players in each league, as voted on by the fans (or chosen by the All-Star team manager and the Commissioner’s Office as needed), will battle it out for—well, nothing.

For a few years, the winning team’s World Series representative had home-field advantage. But that rule was done away with last season. The game is now all about pride and bragging rights. Nothing strategic, just whether you want to win more than the next guy.

Do you want to prove the fans right and show them that you deserve to be called an All-Star?

In a perfect world, the fans are going to vote for the best players in the game. Fandom will, of course, play a factor for some voters. But by and large, the most deserving players tend to be the ones voted in.

However, sometimes it isn’t easy figuring out who those guys are. Sometimes the decision can be tough. You want to vote for the most deserving player, but when a couple (or a few) guys are all playing well, what do you do?

We’ll find out what fans decided to do when the league announces the starting lineups for each team in the weeks leading up to the game. One thing is for sure—several of the choices are not going to be easy ones:

AL Shortstop

This one is not going to be easy because there are a number of guys playing well at shortstop in the American League this season:

  • Carlos Correa, Houston Astros: .273 batting average, 13 home runs, 47 RBIs, and two stolen bases in 245 at-bats.
  • Andrelton Simmons, Los Angeles Angels: .318 batting average, four home runs, 34 RBIs, and five stolen bases in 223 at-bats.
  • Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians: .289 batting average, 16 home runs, 37 RBIs, and nine stolen bases in 291 at-bats.
  • Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles: .310 batting average, 18 home runs, 53 RBIs, and four stolen bases in 268 at-bats.

  • Didi Gregorius, New York Yankees: .259 batting average, 14 home runs, 40 RBIs, and nine stolen bases in 239 at-bats.

Correa will likely fall out of the running first because his offensive numbers are not as impressive as some of the other candidates. Simmons could get overlooked because some other guys on the Angels roster are getting a ton of attention. While Gregorius kept the Yankees afloat early in the season when the offense struggled, he’s not hitting enough to be voted in over the other guys. Xander Bogaerts and Jean Segura are probably going to get some votes as well.

This one will likely come down to either Lindor or Machado. Whoever makes it in will deserve it, but the other will lead off every list of players that should have made it in.

AL Designated Hitter

This one probably shouldn’t be a tough decision, but due to one of the unique options on the table, it may be:

  • J.D. Martinez, Boston Red Sox: .315 batting average, 22 home runs, 55 RBIs, and one stolen base in 260 at-bats.
  • Giancarlo Stanton, New York Yankees: .243 batting average, 16 home runs, 37 RBIs, and two stolen bases in 259 at-bats.

This one should be a no-brainer. Martinez is easily the better slugger of the two. But as much as they’ve booed him for striking out earlier in the season, Yankees fans will show Stanton some love.

NL Catcher

Catchers are often valued more for what they bring defensively to the game. But it’s the offense that grabs our attention the most. As it turns out the National League has three guys playing well defensively and at the plate:

  • Francisco Cervelli, Pittsburgh Pirates: .253 batting average, nine home runs, and 35 RBIs in 166 at-bats
  • J.T. Realmuto, Miami Marlins: .302 batting average, nine home runs, 26 RBIs, and one stolen base in 199 at-bats.
  • Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants: .286 batting average, four home runs, 24 RBIs, and three stolen bases in 220 at-bats.

Cervelli is having a great year, but it will likely come down to Realmuto and Posey. Honestly— it could go either way. It’s amazing that the Marlins haven’t traded Realmuto away yet. Maybe they are hoping an All-Star nod can up the asking price. But Posey has been the gold-standard among catchers for years. He could win off name recognition alone.

NL First Base

Voting for this position is going to be a little different this season with many of the usual suspects having down seasons (Paul Goldschmidt and Anthony Rizzo). Fans will likely be choosing from these four guys:

  • Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves: .337 batting average, 15 home runs, 49 RBIs, and six stolen bases in 270 at-bats.
  • Jose Martinez, St. Louis Cardinals: .321 batting average, ten home runs, and 42 RBIs in 234 at-bats.
  • Brandon Belt, San Francisco Giants: .302 batting average, 12 home runs, 33 RBIs, and two stolen bases in 199 at-bats.
  • Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds: .302 batting average, six home runs, 32 RBIs, and one stolen base in 252 at-bats.

Votto will likely lose out because his power numbers are not what fans are accustomed to see from him. Martinez could stand to have better power numbers and a better on-base percentage as well. The vote should be a close one between Belt and Freeman. But look for fans to give the surprising Braves (and Freeman) a nod here.

NL Second Base

This may be the toughest decision among all the All-Star spots this season. Not only are there multiple options, but each one is playing extremely well:

  • Ozzie Albies, Atlanta Braves: .251 batting average, 16 home runs, 41 RBIs, and six stolen bases in 303 at-bats.
  • Scooter Gennett, Cincinnati Reds: .336 batting average, 12 home runs, 48 RBIs, and one stolen base in 259 at-bats.

  • Asdrubal Cabrera, New York Mets: .270 batting average, 12 home runs, and 37 RBIs in 259 at-bats.

Gennett deserves this one, but he’ll have to compete for votes with Albies and Cabrera. If he just had to worry about them, he’d probably still be a shoe-in, but Javier Baez and Cesar Hernandez are going to steal a share of the votes as well.

It doesn’t help that he also happens to play for one of the worst teams in baseball this season.

NL Third Base

Fans will likely be choosing between these three guys at third base for the National League:

  • Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies: .310 batting average, 13 home runs, 42 RBIs, and two stolen bases in 245 at-bats.
  • Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs: .281 batting average, nine home runs, 33 RBIs, and two stolen bases in 242 at-bats.
  • Eugenio Suarez, Cincinnati Reds: .297 batting average, 14 home runs, and 52 RBIs in 202 at-bats.

Suarez’s chances will suffer because the Reds are terrible this season. Bryant will get a boost from name recognition. But the more deserving of the three is Arenado. Not only is he a tremendous threat offensively, but he’s one of the better defensive players in the league as well.