The majority of the MLB All-Star rosters for both the National League and American League were announced this week. As always with a team selecting using a fan vote their will always be some question marks. If you are unfamiliar with the way the All-Star teams are assembled then essentially the starters are decided by a fan vote, with reserves decided in a slightly more complicated method. One of the rules is that all teams must be represented so there are always some questionable calls. However, whenever a fan vote is involved you are always going to get a few head scratching picks. If one fan base comes out in force they can really push their players into starting spots.
There is one more spot to be decided with another fan vote. Five names who have missed out are nominated for the final roster spot with fans deciding the lucky participant.
So let’s take a look at this years All-Star rosters. Who should have been starters and who has been snubbed altogether?
Generally the best way to judge whether players have been correctly selected is to use their WAR. Whilst not a perfect system WAR does give a good indication of a players value on both sides of the ball that season.
Willson Contreras (Buster Posey, J.T. Realmuto & Yadier Molina)
There is a clear snub here in the shape of Francisco Cervelli. Despite playing just 57 games, Cervelli has a 2.4 WAR, and ranks third among the position in the NL. Yasmani Grandal may also feel hard done by but his WAR is not significantly above either Posey or Molina. Molina is the person taking Cervelli’s spot, but with 13 home runs in 231 plate appearances he is hardly a terrible selection. Molina was named as the replacement for Buster Posey who cannot take part due to injury. Realmuto also has a WAR 0.9 points higher than Contreras and perhaps should have been the starter.
Freddie Freeman (Paul Goldschmidt & Joey Votto)
Freeman and Goldschmidt rank first and second and fully deserve their spot. The person who has got here on reputation is Votto. Votto ranks seventh at the position in WAR. He has less home runs than all of the options above him and even has an average below two others. However, all four of the players between Goldschmidt and Votto are in the final spot vote. Those names are Max Muncy, Brandon Belt, Jesus Aguilar and Matt Carpenter. All four have a good case to make to be All-Stars and picking between them is extremely tough.
Javier Baez (Ozzie Albies & Scooter Gennett)
Nothing to debate here. Perhaps just Albies over Baez as starter but 17 steals for Baez is a good tie breaker for me.
Nolan Arenado (Eugenio Suarez)
Again there can not really be any complaints here at all. If Muncy or Carpenter get in then they would likely be the third third base option.
SS: Brandon Crawford (Trevor Story)
Trea Turner with a WAR 0.6 above the others can feel hard done by. If Brandon Crawford doesn’t win the fan vote then Turner may have just been above him on selection. Turner is in the final spot vote but that is going to be a tight contest.
Nick Markakis, Bryce Harper & Matt Kemp (Charlie Blackmon, Lorenzo Cain, Christian Yelich)
A couple of major snubs here and at least two very lucky selections. Firstly, Blackmon ranks 43rd in WAR among NL outfielders! Blackmon has been poor defensively and has hardly been good offensively. That is a bizarre selection. Harper, has got in on reputation as he ranks 18th in outfielder WAR. However, an All-Star game in Washington without Harper would feel wrong. Major snubs according to WAR are Kyle Schwarber (2nd) and Brandon Nimmo (4th). In addition, Ben Zobrist (5th), A.J. Pollock (6th) and Starling Marte (7th) may feel hard done by.
Nimmo and Schwarber are maybe hurt by their sub .260 batting average. Zobrist and Pollock are hurt by just not being that exciting. Starling Marte at seventh was always going to find it tough even with 23 steals to his name.
Patrick Corbin, Jacob deGrom, Mike Foltynewicz, Jon Lester, Miles Mikolas, Max Scherzer, Aaron Nola, Felipe Vazquez, Kenley Jansen, Brad Hand, Josh Hader & Sean Doolittle
Jon Lester is the only starter who may be considered lucky to be here. However, his WAR ranking (25th) is hurt by his strikeouts and his 2.45 ERA indicates he does deserve to be here. The other six rank in the top seven in pitching WAR, with Jon Gray the other name. However, given Jon Gray was sent to Triple-A last week he was always unlikely to get selected. Zack Greinke can feel a little hard done by as he ranks eighth but his ERA is nearly a whole run higher than Lester.
Among the relievers I do not have too many issues. Ultimately saves rule but Hader and Vazquez being included demonstrate that other numbers do matter.
Wilson Ramos (Salvador Perez)
The fact that Salvador Perez is an All-Star basically highlights everything that is wrong with this. Perez has been really bad this year but the extremely bad Royals have to have at least one representative. Yan Gomes and Max Stassi both deserve this spot more.
Jose Abreu (Mitch Moreland)
Another situation where a player from a bad team is a starter. However, this one was decided by the fan vote. Abreu is 17th among AL first basemen in WAR. Moreland is a good choice as he currently ranks second. Matt Olson is the unlucky guy but with just a 1.7 WAR he was never a slam dunk.
Jose Altuve (Gleybar Torres)
Torres can maybe consider himself a little lucky but a rookie hitting .294 with 15 home runs is hard to argue with. Jed Lowrie and Whit Merrifield were the only other real options to back up Altuve.
Jose Ramirez (Alex Bregman)
Absolutely no issue with either of these selections.
Manny Machado (Francisco Lindor)
I would have given Lindor the nod as starter but you cannot argue with either pick. Sorry Andrelton Simmons but defense is not sexy.
Mookie Betts, Mike Trout, Aaron Judge (Michael Brantley, George Springer, Mitch Haniger, Shin-Soo Choo)
It is hard to truly hate any of these. The three starters lead the AL in WAR. Andrew Benintendi and Eddie Rosario are unlucky to miss out as they are ranked fifth and sixth, respectively. Brantley at 17th and Springer at 14th could easily have missed out for Stanton or Hicks. Stanton, Benintendi and Rosario have a chance in the final vote against Simmons and Jean Segura.
J.D. Martinez (Nelson Cruz)
Probably should have been Stanton over Cruz but these two selections are fine.
Trevor Bauer, Jose Berrios, Gerrit Cole, J.A. Happ, Corey Kluber, Chris Sale, Luis Severino, Justin Verlander, Aroldis Chapman, Edwin Diaz, Joe Jimenez, Craig Kimbrel, Blake Treinen
Justin Verlander was replaced by Trevor Bauer, who arguably should have been there from the start. This was a really hard selection but Blake Snell, with his 10.24 strikeouts per nine and 2.09 ERA, should have been there. However, other names such as James Paxton, Mike Clevinger and Charlie Morton could all have made a case. The inclusion of Jose Berrios is a bit surprising but he is the only Minnesota representative right now.
Among the reliever it is hard to have any real complaints. Treinen and Jimenez had done enough anyway but as the only representatives from their teams they were an easy selection here.