By Brian Argetsinger
(Written June 14th before the late games)
Every year when the Major League Baseball (MLB) All-Star game rolls around it feels like someone is stuffing the ballot boxes. Players that I feel like are iffy to even make the team are somehow leading the voting to start the game. I know a lot of people view the all-star game as nothing but a fun exhibition game. The truth is that the game actually counts for something. It determines home field advantage in the world series. I also feel like the players that are performing the best so far in the season should be there instead of the fan favorites. Today we decide who I would vote for to start the All-Star game for the National League.
Jonathan Lucroy: Lucroy leads catchers in almost every offensive category. He's also the only catcher with a wins above replacement (WAR) above 2. This is by far the easiest pick for me. I don't even have to crunch the numbers for you. Buster Posey and Yadier Molina will likely gather a lot of fan votes to become the backup, but they should not be starting the game. It should be Lucroy.
Paul Goldschmidt: Once again Goldschmidt has posted great numbers while his team continues to struggle. He hosts a .282 batting average (BA), .428 on-base percentage (OBP), .925 on-base plus slugging (OPS), and a 2.3 WAR. Other than ranking 5th in batting average each of those stat lines are first for his position. He also has 12 home runs (HRs), 40 RBI's, and 36 Runs. Each are in the top three for the position.
*Anthony Rizzo: Rizzo deserves an all-star bid as well. He just shouldn't be the starter. He hosts a .265 BA, .386 OBP, .916 OPS, and a 2.0 WAR. He also has 14 HRs, 47 RBI's, and 38 Runs. He has very similar numbers but plays on one of the top offenses.
Daniel Murphy: Murphy wins the nod here for one major reason. He leads the entire league in batting average at .367. His OPS (1.008) is second in the entire MLB behind David Ortiz. If we look at just his positional numbers in the National League he's top 2 in OBP, WAR, HRs, RBI's, and Runs.
*Ben Zobrist: Zobrist is having a great year as well. His numbers are similar to Murphy's. Zobrist beats Murphy in OBP (.426), WAR (2.3), and Runs (44). But the difference between some of those stats are very minor. Zobrist is also on the same stacked lineup as Rizzo. Murphy is now being used to protect Bryce Harper and no one is protecting Murphy.
Nolan Arenado: There's exactly two players in the national league that have a WAR above 3 and Arenado is the front runner at 3.5. Third base in general is a very hard position to pick from but Arenado has stood apart. Arenado has a .289 BA (3rd), .376 OBP (4th), .952 OPS (2nd), 19 HRs (1st), 53 RBI's (1st), and 45 Runs (2nd). He was thankfully an easier pick than who will back him up.
*Matt Carpenter: Carpenter has been on fire lately and his numbers have blossomed. Carpenter's numbers are .285 BA (4th), .399 OBP (1st), .955 OPS (1), 10 HRs (5th), 42 RBI's (3rd), 44 Runs (3rd), and a 2.8 WAR (2nd). Luckily Carpenter has a higher chance to make the team as either a third basemen or a second basemen in case Kris Bryant fan votes over shadows Carpenter.
*Kris Bryant: Bryant has been great as well. He ranks in the top 5 of each major statistical category I have been mentioning at his position. He does beat out Carpenter and Arenado in Runs at 4 and does have a 2.4 WAR. I think he makes the team regardless.
Corey Seager: I've flipped back and forth on this but I think I've made my decision on Seager. He's top three in every major category I've been discussing. I give him the edge over Diaz because he leads all NL shortstops with 15 HR's and has a WAR of 2.5. In an all-star game where defense typically doesn't have much favoritism he has performed better in the field than Diaz.
*Aledmys Diaz: Diaz came onto the scene and broke records with how hot of a hitter he was. He has since cooled down a little. He's first for shortstops in BA (.315), OPS (.868), and Runs (44). He does still rank in the top five for WAR, HRs, and RBI's for shortstops. It's a close call but I'm flipping the coin and picking Seager to start.
*Jonathan Villar: I don't know if this guy will make it but I want to give him some credit. Villar has a 1.9 WAR, which is the same as Bryce Harper, but also has a BA of .296 (2nd), .387 OBP (1st), and a .813 OPS (4th). He also has 34 runs and 23 stolen bases. He's going overlooked.
Outfielders are generally a hard group to pick. What are you really looking for here? There's a lot of different types of players here. The slap hitters with high averages and a good amount of stolen bases. The all-around athlete that hits wells and covers a lot of ground. The power hitter with lots of homers and RBI's. I'm going to break it down as easy as I can.
Starters: Stephen Piscotty (RF), Bryce Harper (CF), Starling Marte (LF)
Backups: Christian Yelich, Dexter Fowler
I've already mentioned that only two players in the NL have a WAR over 3. Starling Marte is one of these players with a WAR of 3.3. He also has the highest outfield BA (.332) and 19 stolen bases. He plays amazing defense. He's a firm pick to play Left Field. Bryce Harper started the season on fire and has really struggled lately. Even while going through his tough period he still has a 1.9 WAR, .408 OBP, and .910 OPS. Harper also ranks 6th at the position in HRs (13) and RBI's (38). He could easily start in Right Field, but I'm moving him to Center Field for Stephen Piscotty. Piscotty is one of the more consistent players in the game. He has a WAR of 2.4. He ranks 3rd in Runs (39), 6th in BA (.308), 5th in OBP (.387), and eleventh in OPS (.867) and RBI's (35). His extra stat is what gives him the edge. He's hitting a lead league .519 with runners in scoring position. This isn't a small sample size either. He was 28-54.
Christian Yelich has just put together a very strong season. He's top five in BA, OBP, and OPS. He has a WAR of 2.3. He could very well deserve a start. He just doesn't have a lot of homers, RBI's, or steals. Dexter Fowler is also a good choice because he ranks in the top 11 in these same categories. He also has 38 Runs playing for the Chicago Cubs.
I thought this was going to be a tougher pick to make before I looked at the stats. Clayton Kershaw is godly! He leads the league in innings with 100 2/3. He also leads the league in ever other major category for a pitcher besides wins. His WHIP is 0.65 and ERA 1.52. Are you kidding me? Oh and not to mention his WAR is 4.1. Nobody in all of MLB is higher than that. The Dodgers are only a battling .500 club right now and he's still posting a 9-1 record. Everyone else can sit down behind him.
Published by Brian Argetsinger