With MLB All-Star voting nearing an end, here are the rising stars who most deserve to make the 2017 All-Star Game.
As you probably know, MLB All-Star voting ends on Thursday.
With that in mind, the goal for this column was to identify 10 or 11 rising MLB stars who deserve their first trip to the All-Star Game. That first trip is special, any player will tell you. There’s just something about being honored, about standing out there on the field with the supertstars of baseball.
Turns out, that’s not such an easy task this year. Sooooo many players who have yet to participate in the Midsummer Classic are having great seasons, and just mentioning 10 or 11 isn’t really fair. Think about this: There are 39 position players with a WAR of at least 2.0 (FanGraphs formula) and 19 of those guys have never been to an All-Star Game. Yeah.
So what we’re going to do instead is sort the honorable mention guys into groups, and then we’ll get around to the 11 rising stars who most richly deserve to be first-time All-Stars in 2017 (all stats as of June 27).
Yonder Alonso, A’s. With 17 homers, has almost doubled career high (9); .292 avg, .974 OPS
Gary Sanchez, Yankees. Following up ROY runner-up with stellar year; 13 homers, .942 OPS
Zack Cosart, Reds. Deserving NL vote leader at shortstop. He’s been great; .320 avg, .966 OPS
Miguel Sano, Twins. Leads AL third base vote; Sano has 18 homers, .384 OBP, .949 OPS
Andrelton Simmons, Angels. Eternally an All-Star-caliber glove; 13 SBs, .280 average, .744 OPS
Mark Reynolds, Rockies. MLB’s best revival? Solid .298 avg, 18 homers, 58 RBIs, .932 OPS
Jake Lamb, D-backs. Narrowly missed last year, has 17 homers, 62 RBIs, .919 OPS
Eric Thames, Brewers. Slowed since hot start, but still … 20 homers, .935 OPS ain’t shabby
Anthony Rendon, Nationals. Already 3.3 rWAR; 14 homers, .933 OPS, .291 average
Travis Shaw, Brewers. Think Boston could use 15 homers, 53 RBIs, .889 OPS at third base?
Justin Bour, Marlins. Already 18 homers, with career-bests in average (.289) and OPS (.937)
Trea Turner, Nationals. Not quite last year’s blistering debut, but still 28 SBs, .271 average
Eric Sogard, Brewers. Only 143 PAs, but .353 average, .991 OPS and 2.0 WAR is outstanding
Jedd Gyorko, Cardinals. After 30 homers last year, Gyorko has 12 with .298 average, .877 OPS
Logan Morrison, Rays. Career renaissance this season; already 22 homers, 54 RBIs w/ .933 OPS
J.T. Realmuto, Marlins. Eternally underrated catcher hitting .288 with .804 OPS, seven homers
Jonathan Schoop, Orioles. Overshadowed second baseman has 15 homers, .295 avg, .897 OPS
Marwin Gonzalez, Astros. Hitting .318 with 13 homers, .988 OPS despite no set position
Tyler Flowers, Braves. Only 193 PAs, but .327 average, .898 OPS for a catcher? Impressive
Ben Gamel, Mariners. He’s a few PAs short of qualifying, but that .346 average is impressive
Michael Conforto, Mets. One of very few bright spots for the Mets; .953 OPS and 14 homers
Aaron Altherr, Phillies. Phillies have to send someone; Altherr has 12 homers, .870 OPS, 39 RBIs
Aaron Hicks, Yankees. Finally playing to potential; 10 homers, 7 SBs, .290 average, .913 OPS
Scott Schebler, Reds. 20 homers, .880 OPS in first full year as a starter
Khris Davis, A’s. Just continues to mash the ball; 19 homers and an .831 OPS
Ender Inciarte, Braves. Stellar defensive center fielder is batting .309 with 10 stolen bases
Luis Severino has been an outstanding piece of the Yankees’ rotation this year. (Getty Images)
Robbie Ray, D-backs. MLB’s most underrated strikeout starter; 11.4 K/9. 3.6 rWAR, 2.87 ERA
Alex Wood, Dodgers. Wood has a tiny 1.86 ERA; he’s allowed 0 or 1 runs in seven of 11 starts
Luis Severino, Yankees. Filthy stuff finally translating regularly; 3.30 ERA, 9.8 K/9 in 14 starts
Chase Anderson, Brewers. 2.92 ERA in 15 starts; more strikeouts (84) than hits allowed (73)
Michael Fulmer, Tigers. Last year’s AL ROY has been great again, with 3.29 ERA in 14 starts
Mike Leake, Cardinals. Career-best 3.12 ERA in 15 starts, healthy 3.40 K/BB ratio
Carlos Carrasco, Indians. Rough outing Monday, but still 3.67 ERA and 9.5 K/9
Ivan Nova, Pirates. Nova’s Pittsburgh revival continues; 3.05 ERA, w/ only 11 walks in 103 IP
Kyle Freeland, Rockies. Best of Colorado’s stellar crop of young starters, with 2.9 rWAR, 3.70 ERA
Jameson Taillon, Pirates. 3.33 ERA in nine starts despite time on DL with cancer(!). All-Star.
Jose Berrios, Twins. Longshot with only nine starts, but 2.98 ERA and 60 Ks in 60 1/3 innings
Corey Knebel, Brewers. Dominant 0.96 ERA, with 12 saves and 65 strikeouts in 37 2/3 innings
Cody Allen, Indians. Overlooked? Maybe. But 12.4 K/9, 2.17 ERA, 15 for 16 in save opps
Carl Edwards, Cubs. Chicago’s future closer excelling as setup man; 12.2 K/9, 1.78 ERA
Archie Bradley, D-backs. Ex-starter throwing gas; 1.04 ERA, 42 Ks, 7 walks in 34 2/3 IP
Raisel Iglesias, Reds. Cincy’s closer has a 1.73 ERA, 11 for 12 in save opps, 4.7 H/9, 11.1 K/9
Chris Devenski, Astros. Not a closer, but 0.77 WHIP, 64 Ks in 46 1/3 innings is worthy
Addison Reed, Mets. Filled in nicely as Mets closer (11 of 13 in save opps), 2.82 ERA, 9.2 K/9
Bud Norris, Angels. Spring non-roster invitee is 11 for 12 in save opps, w/ 2.43 ERA, 11.3 K/9
MLB All-Star voting: First-timers who deserve your vote
And now the 11 rising MLB stars who most deserve to make their All-Star debuts in Miami in a couple weeks.
Carlos Correa (left) and George Springer should both make their All-Star debuts this year. (Getty Images)
11. Carlos Correa, Astros
Numbers to know: .303 average, .898 OPS, 14 homers, 48 RBIs, 52 runs
Why he’s here: Correa is tied for fourth in the majors in WAR at 3.4 (by Baseball-Reference’s formula) and the biggest question for this rising star isn’t really when he’ll make his All-Star debut but how many All-Star Games he’ll play in by the end of his career. He’s comfortably ahead of the voting for the starting AL shortstop nod, by the way.
10. Justin Smoak, Blue Jays
Numbers to know: .304 average, .955 OPS, 20 homers, 48 RBIs
Why he’s here: You’re forgiven if you didn’t anticipate Smoak’s breakout season at 30 years old in his eighth big-league season. Nobody did. But Smoak has been brilliant, already matching his career-best with 20 homers and far exceeding his career bests in average, on-base percentage, OPS and pretty much everything else.
9. Lance McCullers, Astros
Numbers to know: 2.53 ERA, 2.75 FIP, 97 strikeouts, 23 walks in 81 2/3 innings
Why he’s here: All-Star regular Chris Sale is the favorite to get the starting nod for the AL (what with McCullers’ teammate Dallas Keuchel on the DL for a while), but McCullers makes a great case to receive the honor. It’s not just that he’s been brilliant this year — you see those numbers above — but in 50 career starts, the right-hander with the filthy curve has a 3.03 ERA and 10.4 K/9 ratio.
8. Jason Vargas, Royals
Numbers to know: 2.29 ERA, 70 strikeouts, 20 walks in 94 1/3 innings
Why he’s here: Maybe the AL’s biggest out-of-nowhere story this season, the 34-year-old Vargas has bounced back from two seasons basically lost to injury to keep Kansas City’s playoff hopes alive; the Royals are 11-4 when he starts and 26-33 when anyone else. Vargas leads the AL with that 2.29 ERA and will be an easy choice to add to the squad.
7. Avisail Garcia, White Sox
Numbers to know: .331 average, .904 OPS, 11 homers, 51 RBIs
Why he’s here: Nobody doubted Garcia’s talent, but it was fair to wonder if he’d ever reach that potential with the White Sox. In his first 386 games on the South Side (exactly 1,500 plate appearances), Garcia produced a rWAR of 0.8. Yeah. Disappointing stuff. This year, though? You see the numbers above, and those have translated to an rWAR of 3.0. He’s a deserving pick.
6. Corey Dickerson, Rays
Numbers to know: .330 average, 17 homers, 39 RBIs, 56 runs, .957 OPS
Why he’s here: The Rays moved Dickerson to the leadoff spot this year, and he’s responded with an outstanding first half of the season. His .371 OBP is a career-best, and way, way above what he produced last year (.293), his first with the Rays.
5. Jose Ramirez, Indians
Numbers to know: .326/.381/.567, 12 homers, 8 stolen bases, 51 runs
Why he’s here: Ramirez signed an extension this spring (options through 2023) and he’s spent the first couple months showing he’s ready to be a long-term anchor for Cleveland’s franchise.
4. Justin Turner, Dodgers
Numbers to know: .393 average, 1.033 OPS, 3.5 rWAR
Why he’s here: Yes, he spent some time on the DL, but he’s still second in the NL in rWAR among position players, and you can be pretty sure the guy hitting .393 in 225 PAs is going to get an invite to the All-Star game.
3. George Springer, Astros
Numbers to know: 22 homers, 47 RBIs, .912 OPS, .280 average, 57 runs
Why he’s here: The All-Star Game might be in Miami, but this exhibition will be a celebration of the young stars for the AL’s best team, the Astros. Springer is the fifth guy we’ve mentioned here, and second baseman Jose Altuve (27) and closer Ken Giles (26) could make the squad, too. Worth noting that Springer has those 22 homers with all 70 of his starts as Houston’s leadoff hitter.
2. Cody Bellinger, Dodgers
Numbers to know: 24 homers, 55 RBIs, 1.021 OPS
Why he’s here: Seriously, Bellinger has been amazing. He’s a no-brainer for the NL squad.
1. Aaron Judge, Yankees
Numbers to know: .332/.440/.699, 26 homers, 59 RBIs, 4.6 rWAR, 1.139 OPS
Why he’s here: No surprises with the top spot. Judge has dominated headlines all season, and deservedly so. In fact, he’s been so very good that it’s easy to forget how much he struggled in his first taste of the bigs last year — he hit just .179 and struck out in exactly half of his at-bats (42 times in 84 ABs). He’s not going to wind up winning the Triple Crown, but the fact we’re nearing the end of June and he’s top five in all three categories speaks to his production this season.