Although the MLB All-Star Game is still over a month and a half away from getting underway at Nationals Park in the nation’s capital, there has still been enough baseball played to take a shot at sorting out what each league’s roster could resemble.
Thus far on the year, there have been several revelations that have come to pass. The Braves and Phillies have been the fresh-faced sensations of the early going, bringing a host of breakout stars to the forefront. Simultaneously in Anaheim, Shohei Ohtani generously has squeezed every bit of potential out of his roster spot in a way we have never seen before.
Meanwhile, the starts of the Astros, Red Sox and Yankees have kept their superstars at the forefront, while standard bearers such as Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Max Scherzer, Kris Bryant and more have continued to live up to their billing.
The next entry in the MLB All-Star Game stands to be a brilliant blend of where the game is, as well as where it is confidently headed. And with that, lets have a look at where things currently stand for the NL and AL rosters through the first quarter of the schedule.
Before we get going, here are the ground rules for the rosters that follow: 34 players per roster, each MLB club must be represented and at least two players per position are chosen. Deserving, yet injured, players are picked and then replaced with another deserving option.
National League All-Stars
Catcher — Buster Posey (Giants)
Posey is the standard bearer at the position and for good reason. While he does not have the run production numbers that some of his contemporaries do, he remains easily the most skilled overall player at the position in the game. Posey is hitting nearly 20 points higher than any other catcher and remains excellent behind the dish.
Reserves: Willson Contreras (Cubs), Francisco Cervelli (Pirates)
First Base — Freddie Freeman (Braves)
While the hype around some of his younger teammates has eclipsed his own fame, Freeman remains the most important part of the Braves lineup. He leads MLB first basemen in average, RBI and on-base %.
Reserves: Brandon Belt (Giants), Joey Votto (Reds)
Second Base — Ozzie Albies (Braves)
Albies’ breakout has been so sensational that none other than defending AL MVP Jose Altuve had to proclaim him to be his age-21 superior. The praise is far from hot air; Albies leads all MLB second basemen in extra base hits and total bases.
Reserves: Javier Baez (Cubs), Starlin Castro (Marlins)
Third Base — Kris Bryant (Cubs)
It is an upper-class only showdown for starter at the hot corner, as Bryant and Nolan Arenado face off for the honors. The duo makeup the NL top two at third in four separate categories and have their teams at the heart of their respective divisional races. The edge goes slightly to Bryant, who has an edge in doubles, OPS and leads all NL third basemen in WAR.
Reserve: Nolan Arenado (Rockies)
Shortstop — Asdrubal Cabrera (Mets)
Cabrera got off to a fast start and pulled away from the pack regarding production at the plate. And while he has slowed some of late, Cabrera still tops the league in seven different offensive categories. However, this is a position that could have a great deal of shake up by the time the Midsummer Classic takes place.
Reserve: Brandon Crawford (Giants)
Outfielders — Odubel Herrera (Phillies), Bryce Harper (Nationals), A.J. Pollock (Diamondbacks)*
Herrera has been a revelation thus far, with his 45-game on-base streak helping to pave the path for the Phillies’ early breakthrough. Meanwhile, Harper has been an on-base and power monster, leading the NL in home runs and walks. Pollock gets a mention here for the pace he was on prior to a fractured thumb, which included a 40 double/40 home run pace that had the D’Backs atop the NL West, a position they have surrendered since losing him.
Reserves: Tommy Pham (Cardinals)**, Nick Markakis (Braves), Matt Kemp (Dodgers) Lorenzo Cain (Brewers)^
Starting Pitcher — Max Scherzer (Nationals)
The crop of pitchers representing for the senior circuit currently stands as a unique blend of the who’s who in NL pitching, along with a few pleasant surprises. Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Carlos Martinez and Stephen Strasburg standout among the experienced All-Stars having great years. Meanwhile Aaron Nola, Patrick Corbin, Josh Hader and Brandon Morrow all standout among the breakthrough talents of the year.
Head and shoulders above the crowd however stands Scherzer, who has somehow continued to take his game to a new level. He stands among the NL top three in virtually every pitching stat that matters and is on pace for over 350 strikeouts. If he is eligible to take the ball, Mad Max is a shoe in to take the ball in front of his home fans.
Reserves: Carlos Martinez (Cardinals)*, Aaron Nola (Phillies), Patrick Corbin (D’Backs), Miles Mikolas (Cardinals), Jacob deGrom (Mets), Noah Syndergaard (Mets), Nick Pivetta (Phillies)^, Gio Gonzalez (Nationals), Stephen Strasburg (Nationals), Wade Davis (Rockies), Brad Hand (Padres), Jeurys Familia (Mets), Brandon Morrow (Cubs), Josh Hader (Brewers), Adam Ottavino (Rockies)
Near misses: Trea Turner (Nationals) Rhys Hoskins (Phillies), Jake Arrieta (Phillies), Sean Doolittle (Nationals), Scooter Gennett (Reds)
American League All-Stars
Catcher — Gary Sanchez (Yankees)
While his average has been down, Sanchez’ power is right in line with where it always is. The easy call behind the plate is the Bronx Bomber, who leads all players in either league in home runs and RBI.
Reserves: James McCann (Tigers), Wilson Ramos (Rays)
First Base — Jose Abreu (White Sox)
Easily the top first baseman in the AL, Abreu is one of the few positive parts of a dismal White Sox season. He is pacing all AL first basemen in runs scored, hits, doubles, batting average and OPS.
Reserves: Justin Smoak (Blue Jays), Joey Gallo (Rangers)
Second Base — Jose Altuve (Astros)
Jed Lowrie is having a superior statistical season than Altuve so far, but not enough to the point to surpass the reigning MVP’s place as the top guy at the position. Even in a slightly down year by his standards thus far, he is tied for the AL lead in hits and on pace for a fifth consecutive 200-hit year.
Reserve: Jed Lowrie (Athletics)
Third Base — Jose Ramirez (Indians)
Ramirez has put a painfully slow start behind him and has rallied to again raise his game to MVP levels. He has hit .340 over the past month and checks in among the AL top five in home runs, OPS and slugging percentage.
Reserve: Mike Moustakas (Royals)
Shortstop — Manny Machado (Orioles)
Manny’s return to shortstop has been a rousing success, as he is tearing through AL pitching at an extraordinary pace. He is having a career-year during his final run with the O’s and sits among the top four of each Triple Crown category.
Reserve: Francisco Lindor (Indians), Andrelton Simmons (Angels)
Outfielders — Mookie Betts (Red Sox), Aaron Judge (Yankees), Mike Trout (Angels)
If this collective makes it to the Nationals Park outfield together, it could be the most talented All-Star outfield in decades. Hell, in hindsight it has the potential to be the best of all-time. If the balloting was done today, Betts, Trout and Judge should all stand among the top four in AL MVP voting.
Reserves: George Springer (Astros), Michael Brantley (Indians)
Designated Hitter — J.D. Martinez (Red Sox)
Martinez sure likes that Green Monster, eh? For the purposes of getting the most mileage out of the American League roster, despite splitting time between DH and left field, we’ll place Martinez here. He has ripped through all comers in his return to the American League, checking in among the league’s top three in each of the Triple Crown categories, as well as slugging and on-base percentage, respectively.
Reserve: Giancarlo Stanton (Yankees)
Starting Pitcher — Justin Verlander (Astros)
Though traditionally a hitter’s league, the AL has been an embarrassment of riches this year. The Astros alone boast a trio of indisputable selections within their rotation, with a possible fourth. Joining the Houston forces are each AL Cy Young finalist from a year ago, Corey Kluber, Luis Severino and Chris Sale. Top things off with a potent collection of relievers, headlined by Craig Kimbrel, who is on pace for a fifth 40+ save season and the AL arms are shaping up impressively. Oh, and don’t forget about Shohei Ohtanil, who could impact All-Star affairs in ways we have never had to anticipate before.
The headliner of the group is Verlander, who has continued his incredible Houston resurgence in his first full season with the club. His ERA is struggling to stay north of 1.00 and he has allowed one or fewer earned runs in seven of his 11 starts on the year.
Reserves: Gerrit Cole (Astros), Charlie Morton (Astros), Chris Sale (Red Sox), Luis Severino (Yankees), Corey Kluber (Indians), Sean Manaea (Athletics), Shohei Ohtani (Angels), James Paxton (Mariners), Edwin Diaz (Mariners), Craig Kimbrel (Red Sox), Fernando Rodney (Twins), Kelvin Herrera (Royals), Blake Treinen (Athletics)
Near misses: Kevin Pillar (Blue Jays), Lance McCullers Jr (Astros), Didi Gregorius (Yankees), Mitch Haniger (Mariners), Rick Porcello (Red Sox)
** – Replacement Starter * – Injured ^ – Injury Replacement
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