We're into June, so we have a not-so-small sample of the 2018 season and now the All-Star ballot is open for voting. We can safely start to look at the Midsummer Classic, so let's do that on this fine Tuesday. I'll take a look at both leagues in separate posts, with this one being the American League. You can find
The All-Star Game this season takes place in D.C.'s Nationals Park on Tuesday, July 17. Both rosters will consist of 20 position players and 12 pitchers. Each team must have at least one representative, so we'll follow those rules.
Also, I know some disagree, but I look at the All-Star Game as being a reward for the players with the best first half. I don't take career pedigree into consideration. This is a subjective exercise, after all. And, yes, I obviously hate your favorite team. That's been well-established.
The first player listed would be my starter (first three outfielders, obviously), otherwise these aren't in any particular order.
Sigh. We're already at one of the toughest ones, because there are so few qualified (for the batting title). In fact, only two are and those are the picks.
Ramos is hitting .301/.346/.466 (125 OPS+) and though he can't throw anyone out, that's gonna be good enough here.
Sanchez is only hitting .201, but average is the least important of the three mainstream rate stats. His .308 OBP is a bit more workable and, thanks in part to 12 home runs, his .464 slugging pushes him to a 105 OPS+. He's driven home 35 runs and we needed a second catcher, so he's the pick.
Apologies to Salvador Perez.
Moreland as a starter likely ain't happening, but he'd be quite the story. A slightly-below average hitter in his career, he's having a career year in his age-32 season. He's slashing .305/.369/.631 (160 OPS+) with 12 doubles, two triples (he only had three previously in his entire career) and 10 homers.
Abreu leads the majors with 21 doubles, is hitting .300/.358/.521 with nine homers and 32 RBI, and he gets us a White Sox player. Wins all around.
Confession: Smoak wasn't originally on my list, but then I realized I needed a Blue Jay. Nine homers and 33 RBI. Fine enough.
No explanation needed, right?
Another fun first-timer, should Lowrie make the actual game. The 34-year-old Lowrie is hitting .296/.362/.481 with 14 doubles, nine homers and 42 RBI.
Pretty easy selection here. Ramirez would be on the short list of MVP candidates to this point in the season.
Here's our Tigers selection. Candy isn't just a token selection, though, he's earned it. The 24 year old is hitting .270/.364/.519 with 14 doubles, three triples and nine homers.
Tough choice here with possibly the strongest position on the board. We'll go with Lindor every so slightly at the top.
Machado's range plays better at third than short, but he's fine here. He's been an offensive wrecking crew this season, too. Hopefully he's still on the Orioles by the time the team is actually selected.
Simba has long been the single best defensive player in baseball (yes, he is and if you're arguing, you are wrong), but he's added offense to his arsenal. He's hitting .330/.397/.460 (138 OPS+) this season.
C'mon. Easy three here.
Benintendi is following up his excellent rookie season with an even better second act, slashing .296/.381/.537 (141 OPS+) with 15 doubles, five triples, nine homers, 41 RBI, 41 runs and nine steals. Not to the extent Betts is, but he's a stat-sheet stuffer. He also has five outfield assists.
Rosario had a game for the ages this past weekend, hitting three homers including a walk-off shot. He's now up to .317 with a .573 slugging percentage, the latter only trailing Betts, Trout, J.D. Martinez, Machado and Jose Ramirez in the AL.
The first-place Mariners have dealt with injuries and a Robinson Cano suspension and Haniger has been their rock. He sports a .359 on-base percentage and 140 OPS+. He's also a good defender in right field, with four outfield assists.
The World Series MVP is basically having the same season he did last year. That's worthy of selection.
Mazara is having a very good season (14 homers and 39 RBI look good) and I need a Rangers player.
Apologies to Michael Brantley, Nick Castellanos and a host of others.
Just Dingers, he's not, but I still like the moniker. And he does lead the majors in homers and RBI.
I knew I wanted a spot for Ohtani for his all-around play -- like we've haven't seen since Babe Ruth (and, no, I didn't compare them in performance) -- and it was easier to fit him with the position players. He's got a 148 OPS+ in 129 plate appearances and a 130 ERA+ in eight starts. Amazing. He's the best story in baseball. If he's not at the All-Star Game, it'll be an outrage.
Verlander by nearly any measure, has been the best pitcher in baseball this season. Just to name a few, he leads the majors in ERA (1.24, good for a ridiculous 312 ERA+), WHIP and innings pitched. He has 104 strikeouts against 17 walks. Mercy.
Severino is having a season that would be the Cy Young frontrunner most seasons, 9-1 with a 2.20 ERA and 102 strikeouts in 86 innings.
Cole getting away from Pittsburgh and to Houston made good on him being the number one overall pick once upon a time. He's 6-1 with a 2.20 ERA and leads the AL with 116 strikeouts.
Ignore the record, as the Indians' bullpen has been costly and run support inconsistent (especially early). Bauer has a 2.77 ERA and 97 strikeouts in 78 innings.
Make it seven straight years for the spindly Sale.
Last year's Cy Young winner is having an even better season in some regards.
The numbers overall are good enough, but Paxton found another gear in May, going 3-0 with a 1.67 ERA and 51 strikeouts in 43 innings.
The lanky Rays' lefty is 7-3 with a 2.36 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and 88 strikeouts in 76 1/3 innings. He's one of the most underrated players in the game.
Diaz leads the majors in saves with 21 and has 52 strikeouts in 31 2/3 innings.
Chapman is doing this thing again.
Treinen has been utterly filthy this season, pitching to a 0.95 ERA with a 0.99 WHIP and 35 strikeouts against five unintentional walks. He'll work overtime, too, with 10 outings of more than an inning.
One spot left and we need a Royals rep. Fortunately, Herrera's on the board. He's pitched to a 0.79 ERA and 0.71 WHIP. He's only struck out 19 in 22 2/3 innings, but he hasn't walked anyone yet. Seriously. Zero walks!
Matt Snyder's AL All-Star picks lineup:
1. Jose Altuve, 2B
2. Mike Trout, CF
3. Aaron Judge, LF
4. J.D. Martinez, DH
5. Jose Ramirez, 3B
6. Mookie Betts, RF
7. Francisco Lindor, SS
8. Mitch Moreland, 1B
9. Wilson Ramos, C
SP: Justin Verlander, RHP