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 National 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. I'll note who I would start at DH.
At age 32, Cervelli is having a career year. He's throwing out runners at a better than league average clip and is hitting .278/.399/.535 (155 OPS+!) with a career-high eight homers.
Realmuto started the season injured, but he's been awesome again. In fact, better than in the past. His 143 OPS+ would break his previous career best of 111. Plus, we get our Marlin out of the way right away!
Freeman is as well-rounded at the plate as it gets, slashing .328/.424/.524 with 40 RBI, a fixture in that Braves lineup that has been stellar so far.
On the shelf after an emergency appendectomy, Belt will hopefully be back for the All-Star Game. He's hitting .307/.403/.547 and leading the NL with a 161 OPS+.
A .293 average, .379 on-base percentage and NL-leading 18 doubles for Hosmer. Plus, we have another last-place team out of the way. Winning!
Apologies to Joey Votto.
Our only Reds player, but far from a token rep. What a story. Scooter was released by the Brewers in the spring of 2017 and now he deserves to start the All-Star Game. He's hitting .342 with a 155 OPS+, 12 homers and 41 RBI. Mercy.
Albies has regressed some, but he still leads the NL in total bases -- thanks to 17 doubles, two triples and 14 homers -- and runs scored.
The NL RBI leader (45), Baez is fifth in slugging, third in triples and tied for third in homers in the NL, plus there's the excellent baserunning and ability to make highlight-reel defensive plays.
Apologies to Asdrubal Cabrera.
The smooth-fielding Arenado leads the NL in OPS (153 OPS+).
Bryant has a .400 OBP and is again over .500 in slugging. He's also a good defender and exceptional baserunner.
Shaw rates out as an outstanding defender at the hot corner while also posting a great OBP and having clubbed 13 homers.
After a down 2017 season, Crawford is having an amazing 2018. He's hitting .320 with his usual top-notch defense.
The speed demon is getting on base at a .346 clip and is 16 of 17 in steals.
Apologies to Chris Taylor.
What a fun story this would be for Markakis to start the All-Star Game. He's 34 and has never been an All-Star before. He was a below-average hitter last year, but leads the NL in hits and doubles right now while slashing .331/.394/.494.
Pollock was having a second breakout season when he got hurt. He's currently hitting .293/.349/.620 with 10 doubles, three triples, 11 homers, 33 RBI and nine stolen bases in only 40 games.
Also, Pollock is possibly going to be hurt for the game, so I'm gonna add an extra position player to the NL team. Hey, it's my team! I'm gonna do this how I want.
Cain was a great offseason addition for the Brewers. He possesses great value in the outfield and on the bases, to the point that he's the NL leader in WAR among position players.
Another interesting story, Kemp was last an All-Star in 2012. He was carrying what was an albatross of a contract and has been traded (in salary dumps) multiple times. He was jettisoned back to L.A. and has thrived, hitting an NL-best .344 with nine homers and 33 RBI.
As overrated as Schwarber was after the 2016 World Series, he might be that underrated now outside Cubs fandom. He sports a 138 OPS+ with 11 homers and ranks third among NL outfielders in the Fangraphs version of WAR, helped by him scoring as a slightly above average defender this year. Yes. He's at plus-6 defensive runs saved and has five outfield assists.
The NL outfield is full of fun stories. Pham would be a first-time All-Star at age 30 the year after the Cardinals opened the season with him in Triple-A. He's hitting .272/.366/.462 with nine homers and eight steals.
Herrera's regressed some, but he was playing like an MVP earlier in the season. He's still carrying a quality slash line and plays good defense.
Harper is only hitting .232, but thanks to leading the league in walks and home runs, he carries a 140 OPS+. Plus, it's in D.C. We gotta have Bryce.
He's on some kind of run, isn't he? Scherzer has already won the last two NL Cy Youngs, and now he's 9-1 with a 1.92 ERA, 0.85 WHIP and an MLB-best 120 strikeouts in 79 2/3 innings.
The Mets pitcher leads the NL with a 1.49 ERA and 1.94 FIP. Easy pick.
The former first-rounder is rounding into an ace at age 25. He's 7-2 with a 2.18 ERA and 0.93 WHIP. Well deserved.
The seemingly perpetually underrated Gonzalez is 7-2 with a 2.27 ERA (177 ERA+) in 12 starts.
Tough choice over teammate Sean Newcomb, but I'll go Folty due to run prevention (2.22 ERA).
The Cardinals brought Mikolas back from Japan for $15.5 million on a two-year deal and he's been a gem of a signing. He's 6-1 with a 2.49 ERA and 1.00 WHIP. He's only walked eight guys in 72 1/3 innings.
The 34-year-old Lester is 6-2 with a 2.44 ERA through 12 starts. On the back half of his six-year deal, it looks like the best signing in franchise history, given the surrounding circumstances.
Wacha recently flirted with a no-hitter, but he deserved the attention regardless. He's 7-1 with a 2.44 ERA.
Arrieta has been exactly what the Phillies paid for this offseason, posting a 2.44 ERA and showing locker room leadership.
Given the way he's been used, Hader has been one of the most valuable players in baseball to this point. He's pitched 34 1/3 innings in 20 games, pitching to a 1.05 ERA. Perhaps most telling? The Brewers are 20-0 in Josh Hader appearances.
Ottavino needs to get more run for just how nasty his stuff has been. He's the NL version of Blake Treinen. In 27 appearances, Ottavino has a whopping 45 strikeouts in 28 1/3 innings. He's also hurt, so we'll add another pitcher.
Thanks in part to only two unintentional walks in 26 1/3 innings, Doolittle has a ridiculous 0.61 WHIP with a 1.71 ERA.
We close with another good story. After myriad arm injuries, the 33-year-old Morrow -- full-time closing for the first time in his career -- would be a first-time All-Star. He is 14 for 15 in saves with a 0.89 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 21 strikeouts in 20 1/3 innings.
Matt Snyder's NL All-Star picks lineup:
1. Lorenzo Cain, CF
2. Kris Bryant, DH
3. Freddie Freeman, 1B
4. Nolan Arenado, 3B
5. Matt Kemp, LF
6. Nick Markakis, RF
7. Scooter Gennett, 2B
8. Brandon Crawford, SS
9. Francisco Cervelli, C
SP: Max Scherzer, RHP