Major League Baseball dropped the 2021 All-Star ballot on Thursday. That means the most important thing eager voters can do is click right here and head over to MLB.com's balloting page to cast up five ballots per day. As usual, each team has one player per position, with each AL team having a DH.
- The process for selecting the All-Star Game starters is in two phases. This begins phase one. Voters pick from the entire player pool available on MLB.com. Voting continues until 3:59 p.m. ET on June 24.
- Phase two only includes the top three vote-getters per position (with nine outfielders).
- Phase two voting begins on June 28 at noon ET. The vote totals are then reset at that time and votes during phase two determine the starters for the game.
- Also, during phase two, fans are only allowed one vote per day, not the five they had in phase one.
- Fans can also enter a player's name on Google.com and vote for said player that way. I tried it. It pops right up at the top and is really easy if you're concerned with only voting for a single player instead of filling out an entire ballot.
The 2021 MLB All-Star Game takes place in Colorado's Coors Field on Tuesday, July 13.
Now, allow me to make some picks.
There are some fans and/or media who believe with the word "Star" in there that this should be a game with the biggest established stars. That is, don't worry so much about the two-month sample worth of stats; instead focus on the star power.
I differ. I view the game as a reward for the best players in the individual season on an individual basis. I will be voting for the player at each position I believe has performed the best so far in 2021. Sure, that'll possibly change in the coming weeks. That's fine. I can vote again later and there will be millions of votes. Let's go. I'm entering these in the order they pop up on the ballot.
Also, these are my picks. I'm not saying everyone has to vote with me. If you don't like my pick, go pick your own.
*All stats are heading into Thursday, June 3*
We start with an easy one. He leads the position in in average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, home runs, runs scored, WAR and several other categories. He might win the AL MVP if voting were held right now. What a difference a year makes, huh?
This is where someone might say something like, "how do you not even mention the 2020 MVP?" Fine, I'll mention that Jose Abreu isn't even close to the winner here right now. No one else is.
In a sea of big names like Anthony Rizzo, Paul Goldschmidt, Freddie Freeman, Joey Votto, Pete Alonso and more, you know who is having the best year? A guy who can also shift to second base if the champs need him to.
Jose Altuve and Marcus Semien come in nearly even in average (.302 to .301, respectively) and OBP (both .372), but Semien crushes Altuve in power (.546 to .467 SLG; 13 to 8 in HR). This would've been shocking a few years ago before the knee issues Altuve had, but Semien has eight steals to Altuve's one.
With Whit Merrifield and D.J. LeMahieu down, there aren't really many others to consider.
Semien takes Altuve in both versions of WAR, in fact, he leads all AL players in Baseball-Reference's version.
The pick: Marcus Semien, Blue Jays
Nico Hoerner has been great, but he's only appeared in 21 games. We've seen some great flashes from Jazz Chisholm. Holdovers like Kolten Wong and Ozzie Albies deserve a look. Tommy Edman is in the conversation, albeit the fringe of it.
I thought the pick might be Jake Cronenworth. Though he's struggled lately at the plate, he plays excellent defense and he's still hitting .282/.350/.418 with 37 runs.
Take note of the explanation right before I started picking, though. I'm picking who has been the best to this point and I don't care about his teammates. This is an individual sport masquerading as a team sport. Adam Frazier can't do much about his teammates being bad, generally speaking. He's hitting .335/.381/.481 while leading the majors in hits (71) and doubles (19).
The pick: Adam Frazier, Pirates
Yoán Moncada has the all-around case here. He leads in average (.301) and OBP (.429). His excellent defense at third base pushes him to the top of WAR, too. Where'd the power go, though? He only has four homers and a .432 SLG. Still, at 146, it's an impressive OPS+.
Rafael Devers is an extra-base machine. He leads the AL in doubles and is in the top 10 in homers and RBI.
José Ramirez and Alex Bregman are also in the picture here. This race is far from settled. I have to pick one right now, though.
The pick: Yoán Moncada, White Sox
Uh oh, do we need to rekindle an annoying Internet debate from several years ago? As a bonus, they actually play for rivals now (who happen to be battling for first place at this point). I guess we'll get to that.
Austin Riley is having a great year for the Braves and deserves a look. Manny Machado can be name-dropped, but he's a bit down in 2021. And with all due respect to Justin Turner, this is a two-man race.
Arenado: .276/.323/.523, 136 OPS+, 18 2B, 1 3B, 11 HR, 36 RBI, 29 R, 1.7 bWAR, 1.9 fWAR
Bryant: .317/.398/.598, 177 OPS+, 15 2B, 1 3B, 12 HR, 36 RBI, 36 R, 2.2 bWAR, 2.6 fWAR
There's no question Arenado is the superior defender at third base, but Bryant is the better baserunner. Also, Bryant's value on defense comes in his versatility this year. The Cubs have continued to have injuries pop up all over the diamond and he's actually started at least five times at five different positions, including center field.
The pick: Kris Bryant, Cubs
It's an interesting landscape here.
Adalberto Mondesi's rate stats on the ballot look amazing, but he's only played in seven games. Please toss him out.
Xander Bogaerts had this in the bag several days ago, but he's now in one of the worst slumps of his career.
Carlos Correa has the name and good enough stats, but nothing to really wow you.
Isiah Kiner-Falefa scores out really well in WAR, though I find his OBP and SLG a bit lacking.
Tim Anderson and Bo Bichette absolutely deserve a look here and could well be the favorites here after, say, a two-week hot streak, especially if Bogearts keeps flailing. Bichette is actually tied for the AL lead in runs.
Still, the cushion Bogaerts built through May 22, when he was hitting .345/.402/.602, is enough to hold. For now. He still leads the group in all three triple slash stats, among qualifiers.
The pick: Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox
Trea Turner is having an excellent season and there's no shame in voting for him. Brandon Crawford certainly deserves a look for his bounce-back campaign at age 34. Trevor Story and Corey Seager are names that will generate interest, though neither was exploding pre-injury. And while these are my picks and I'd love to take my favorite player (and Javier Báez is crushing the ball despite his awful plate discipline in addition to his good defense and exceptional baserunning), there's only one correct pick here at this point in time.
The venerable Salvador Perez is going to get lots of votes. We know Kansas City loves, among many other things, some Sal Perez and stuffing the All-Star ballot box. More power to them. He has the .280 average and power numbers to back it up. He still throws out would-be base-stealers at well above the league average, too.
Another candidate here would be Mike Zunino of the Rays. He has 12 homers and dwarfs Perez with his .552 SLG. He's also only hitting .207 and only has 129 plate appearances. How much credit should we give him as the catcher for the Rays' pitching success? Eh. They have a 3.64 ERA with him compared to 3.15 with Francisco Mejia.
The pick: Salvador Perez, Royals
There are holdover star types like J.T. Realmuto and Willson Contreras, who are worth a look. You've got the up-and-comer in Will Smith. The legacy pick types might swoon over the powerful start to Yadier Molina's season.
Are you kidding me with this guy?
Buster Posey hit .257/.320/.368 with just seven homers in 114 games in 2019. He didn't even play in 2020.
He's at .315/.403/.585 (177 OPS+) with five doubles, 10 homers, 21 RBI and 25 runs through 37 games. Given his pedigree and the current stats, this shouldn't even be close.
And glance at the two catcher picks here and we can reminisce about the awesome 2014 World Series while completely ignoring how old we are since that was seven years ago.
The pick: Buster Posey, Giants
We start with a conundrum. What if a player is hurt, but was so valuable before his injury that he might merit a pick right now? If he has a chance to come back, maybe we pick him? And if he doesn't come back, there are worse things than letting the manager make the pick instead of the voting body.
In this case, it's two players.
Mike Trout is hitting .333/.466/.624 (198 OPS+), but it's in just 36 games. He just got out of a walking boot from his calf injury. He might be back.
Byron Buxton is hitting .370/.408/.772 (230 OPS+), but it's only 24 games. And yet with his speed and defense, he's first here in WAR on Fangraphs and tied for first on Baseball-Reference. He's ramping up activities and might go on a rehab assignment soon.
They will both be strong considerations.
How about Adolis García? The Rangers rookie was 2 for 23 in his MLB career before this season. He's now sitting with a 144 OPS+, 16 homers, 41 RBI, seven steals and a bunch of clutch plays both at the plate and in the field.
Teoscar Hernández should get a look. He's hitting .300/.352/.493 (134 OPS+) with eight homers and 30 RBI.
Aaron Judge should, too. The big man is slashing .290/.393/.538 (162 OPS+) with 13 homers and 30 RBI. The baserunning and defense aren't rating out well, though.
I suppose we could consider Alex Verdugo, too, but in looking through the field of candidates, I'm a lot less concerned with taking the injured guys now. If Trout and Buxton aren't back for the game, Judge and Hernández can be named as replacements.
Nick Castellanos is an easy one. He's hitting .361 with a .644 SLG! He leads here in both versions of WAR and he's not even a good defender. That's just how good he's been at the plate. And hey, it's his ninth year and would be his first time. That's always fun.
Ronald Acuña Jr. is also an easy pick. He's been showing himself as one of the best all-around players in baseball all year. He has to be showcased.
The last spot is tougher.
Mookie Betts and Juan Soto have been varying levels of down, but they might be starting to heat up. I know I said it's a reward and all that, but I feel like they'll deserve said reward by the time we get to July. Bryce Harper is having another great year and it's gotten to the point that he's underrated by the masses due to Harper fatigue. Trent Grisham has been excellent since returning from injury. Jesse Winker is hitting .341/.403/.621 with 13 homers!
I'll stick with the reward rule. Two-thirds of our outfield come from Cincy. Hey, I said I only care about individuals and not teams for this game. I stand by that.
The picks: Nick Castellanos, Reds; Ronald Acuña, Braves; Jesse Winker, Reds
In the recent past, there had been a few seasons where this was either a wasteland or there was one obvious pick. This time around, it's an incredibly tough field. Yordan Alvarez is a beast. Nelson Cruz still is. Austin Meadows is having another big power year. So is Giancarlo Stanton.
For me, though, it comes down to three guys.
J.D. Martinez is probably having the best year. He appears to be "back," even if not in his MVP-caliber form from 2018.
Yermín Mercedes is an outstanding story and did some heavy lifting for the White Sox early in the season in the wake of losing Eloy Jiménez to a serious injury.
But you know what? We need this guy.
The pick: Shohei Ohtani, Angels