Who Will Start the 2017 MLB All-Star Game? We’ll Be the Judge

Do you find yourself struggling to keep up with the Cubs’ struggles, the Astros’ dominance, and Aaron Judge demolishing baseballs? If so, you’re in luck! We’re less than a month away from the Midsummer Classic (July 11) at Marlins Park, which also comes with a little four-day break so you can catch your breath.

If you’re salivating for more monstrous home runs off the bat of Aaron Judge, you will (likely) have your desires satisfied by the Home Run Derby during All-Star week.

With the anticipated event nearing, it’s about time we previewed what the viewers will be tuning into when the 2017 All-Star Game does arrive. As you may know, the fan votes dictate which players start in the field. Is this method fair? Absolutely not. Players from the biggest markets assume the starting roles even when they don’t deserve it. But what can I do, right?

The MLB recently posted the balloting updates for each side, and here’s what they look like:

Will the current leaders hold their place over the next month? Will fans come to their senses and start throwing votes at more deserving players in smaller markets? We’ve got all the odds here, but I’m sure you don’t need us to answer the latter question for you. As you’ll see from my commentary, the odds don’t indicate who I believe should be in the All-Star Game.

I also threw in some Aaron Judge/Home Run Derby props, too, because the prospect of a 500-foot bomb actually has me interested in the annual, nationally-televised BP session.

American League All-Star Starters

Catcher

Salvador Perez is the best all-around catcher in the American League. The Royal is hitting .274 at the plate with 13 home runs, an AL-high among catchers. But his defense is what really separates him from the pack. Perez has a .997 fielding-percentage and is throwing out over 30-percent of would-be base-stealers.

If Gary Sanchez continues producing at the plate, he and Brian McCann will make it a close race. Neither are in the same league as Perez, defensively, though.

Odds to start at C

  • Salvador Perez, Royals: 2/1
  • Brian McCann, Astros: 3/1
  • Gary Sanchez, Yankees: 7/2
  • Welington Castillo, Orioles: 7/1
  • FIELD: 12/1

First Base

There isn’t a position in the All-Star Game that is more wide open than first base for the American League. Yonder Alonso is currently leading the vote, and he deserves to be up there. His defense hasn’t been outstanding, but when you’re hitting .310 with 16 home runs, three errors on the season are a manageable problem.

Miguel Cabrera isn’t having a Miggy-type season, but he finds himself second strictly due to his name. Eric Hosmer is also a very popular name at 1B, but he’s backing that up with flawless defense and a .314 batting average.

I expect a darkhorse — Justin Smoak — to make a huge push over the next week. Canadians have proven that, when they want one of their guys in the All-Star Game, they will make themselves heard – see Michael Saunders in 2016. Smoak currently leads all AL first basemen in home runs (18) and RBIs (43). Not to mention, he’s actually hitting a very respectable .295.

Odds to start at 1B

  • Yonder Alonso, Athletics: 3/1
  • Justin Smoak, Blue Jays: 7/2
  • Eric Hosmer, Royals: 15/4
  • Miguel Cabrera, Tigers: 4/1
  • FIELD: 22/3

Second Base

By Keith Allison (flickr)

Entering this season, the only player I thought could steal 2B from Jose Altuve was Robinson Cano. Yet, Cano finds himself with about a fifth of the votes Altuve has, and isn’t even second on the leaderboard. That spot belongs to Starlin Castro, who is having a career season with the Yankees.

Castro is hitting for a better average (.328 to .317), has more home runs (12 to nine), and more RBIs (41 to 32) than Altuve. Defensively, the two have committed the same number of errors, possess the exact same fielding-percentage, and have extremely similar range factors. Though they are separated by nearly 550,000 votes, expect the massive New York fanbase to get behind its guy over the next month and make it close.

Odds to start at 2B

  • Jose Altuve, Astros: 4/5
  • Starlin Castro, Yankees: 4/3
  • FIELD: 37/1

Third Base

There was already a lot of talent to choose from at 3B in the American League, and now youngsters Miguel Sano and Jose Ramirez are making the decision even more difficult for voters. Both have been good at the plate, each averaging above .280, but Sano has shown the power to hang with the big dogs in the AL (15 home runs).

Josh Donaldson and Manny Machado are the household names, but the former has had two extended stints on the DL this season, and the latter is having his worst season at the plate. In order to hold onto his lead, Sano will need to keep his pace and hope former MVP Donaldson slows.

Adrian Beltre’s strong return from the DL gives the FIELD some legitimacy.

Odds to start at 3B

  • Miguel Sano, Twins: 5/2
  • Jose Ramirez, Indians: 4/1
  • Josh Donaldson, Blue Jays: 9/2
  • Mike Moustakas, Royals: 8/1
  • Manny Machado, Orioles: 9/1
  • FIELD: 22/3

Shortstop

This just in: dudes dig the longball, too. It’s the only reasonable explanation for the discrepancy between the upper tier of Carlos Correa and Francisco Lindor to Didi Gregorius on the second tier. Ok, I guess Gregorius starting the season on the DL didn’t help. But come on, he’s hitting .344 and has only committed one error in 40 games, good for a .997 fielding-percentage. Apart from a mediocre home run total (six), what’s not to like?

I can’t complain too much, though. Both Correa and Lindor are enjoying great seasons. Correa’s offensive production (40 RBIs and .294 average) give him the slight edge.

Odds to start at SS

  • Carlos Correa, Astros: 3/2
  • Francisco Lindor, Indians: 13/7
  • Didi Gregorius, Yankees: 5/1
  • FIELD: 11/1

Outfield

Even though he has received the second-most votes among outfielders in the AL, Mike Trout is very unlikely to participate in the Midsummer Classic due to the left thumb injury he sustained in late May. With his absence, a second spot in the AL outfield has come available. (Aaron Judge is an absolute no-doubter.)

George Springer’s 17 home runs have him leading the rest of the OFs. Apparently hitting 17 home runs doesn’t receive the same recognition when you play in Oakland, as Khris Davis is nowhere to be found on the leaderboard. Get voting, Athletics fans!

Michael Brantley and Mookie Betts are dueling it out for the final starting spot, but the more deserving candidate (other than Davis) is Avisail Garcia, who is hitting .333 with ten home runs. And since we clearly aren’t thinking defense when voting for our All-Stars, we won’t talk about Garcia’s “work” with the glove.

Odds to start in OF

  • Aaron Judge, Yankees: 1/50
  • George Springer, Astros: 2/3
  • Mookie Betts, Red Sox: 4/3
  • Michael Brantley, Indians: 3/2
  • Avisail Garcia, White Sox: 3/1
  • FIELD: 13/7

Designated Hitter

Surprise surprise, another position where an Athletic is being overlooked. Ryon Healy doesn’t deserve to be atop the list of DHs, but his play certainly merits a spot on the leaderboard. His .280 average ranks third among DHs, and he’s tied for the lead in home runs (14).

Now that I’m finished lobbying for an Athletic to be third on the leaderboard, I guess I’ll get to who should actually start. Corey Dickerson has the average (.328), while Nelson Cruz has the RBIs (50). Both have hit 14 home runs, but I have a lot more faith in Cruz, who has hit at least 40 in each of the past three seasons, than Dickerson, who has never hit more than 24, to continue this pace over the next month.

Odds to start at DH

  • Nelson Cruz, Mariners: 7/4
  • Corey Dickerson, Rays: 5/2
  • Matt Holiday, Yankees: 3/1
  • FIELD: 9/1

Pitcher

By Arturo Pardavila III (flickr)

Dallas Keuchel missing 2-3 starts at this point of the season may actually increase the likelihood that he starts for the American League in the ASG. His 1.67 ERA and 0.87 WHIP are both tops in the AL, while he only trails Ervin Santana in opponent’s batting average (.154 to .183).

If Keuchel is unable to go, I foresee Santana getting the nod over Jason Vargas.

Odds to start at P

  • Dallas Keuchel, Astros: 5/3
  • Ervin Santana, Twins: 5/2
  • Jason Vargas, Royals: 7/2
  • FIELD: 22/3

National League All-Star Starters

Catcher

If the Padres had a more supportive (better) fan-base, this would be a two-horse race between: Buster Posey and Austin Hedges. Fortunately, I won’t have to worry about answering to any pissed off San Diego supporters for that comment. And if there are any of you reading this, do your boy a favor and turn the rage I’ve incited into All-Star votes for Hedges, whose 11 home runs and 31 RBIs are both highs among NL catchers. His defense has been good enough for All-Star consideration, as well.

Meanwhile, Willson Contreras (9) and Yadier Molina (6) have combined for 15 errors behind the plate, where the next highest in the NL is four. However, they both play in big baseball markets and have received a ton of votes already. Yet neither will catch Buster Posey, who has been one of the very few bright spots on a struggling Giants roster.

Odds to start at C

  • Buster Posey, Giants: 1/3
  • Willson Contreras, Cubs: 8/1
  • Yadier Molina, Cardinals: 9/1
  • FIELD: 25/1

First Base

Now that Eric Thames has cooled off, there are only four players who should be receiving any votes for 1B: Ryan Zimmerman, Mark Reynolds, Paul Goldschmidt, and Joey Votto. (Had Freddie Freeman not fractured his wrist back in mid-May, he would certainly be a member of this list, too.) However, Mark Reynolds is not the Rockies’ representative at 1B on the ballot, Ian Desmond is; and the only player who appears to be contesting Ryan Zimmerman is Anthony Rizzo, whose offensive stats don’t compare to those of Goldschmidt and Votto.

Rizzo’s defense has been marginally better than Goldschmidt’s, while Votto’s glove has been near-flawless this season. But obviously the fans don’t have defense on their mind when voting, as the current leader, Zimmerman, has been the worst of all in the field, committing eight errors on the season. I can’t gripe about a dude who’s hitting .365 at the plate with 17 dingers, though.

Odds to start at 1B

  • Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals: 10/9
  • Anthony Rizzo, Cubs: 4/3
  • Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks: 12/1
  • Joey Votto, Reds: 35/1
  • FIELD: 400/1

Second Base

The voters are on point here. Daniel Murphy basically has 2B locked up, possessing nearly as many votes as the next four on the leaderboard. His ten bombs and 41 RBIs are both highs among NL second basemen. His defense hasn’t been stellar, but it’s nowhere near bad enough to make us overlook his numbers with the bat.

Continuing my assault on the voters: can someone explain to me why Javier Baez is apparently more deserving than DJ LeMahieu? (I can wait …)

Odds to start at 2B

  • Daniel Murphy, Nationals: 1/9
  • Javier Baez, Cubs: 10/1
  • FIELD: 100/1

Third Base

If I had the ability to veto one player in the entire All-Star voting process, I would use it on Kris Bryant, who would start at 3B for the NL if voting ended today. I understood Bryant winning the 2016 NL MVP even though his numbers were inferior to Nolan Arenado, because the Cubs were utterly dominant. But they are an average team this season, and Bryant’s numbers are once again worse than Arenado’s, whose Rockies are atop the NL. And if you want to talk defense, Arenado has orchestrated 19 double-plays without a single error, compared to Bryant’s nine double-plays and six errors.

Call me a Cubs hater, but Bryant shouldn’t even be second on the list. The proof is in the numbers. Jake Lamb’s 16 home runs and 57 RBIs lead NL third basemen, and he’s also been better than Bryant with the glove. Oh right, and the Diamondbacks also occupy a Wild Card spot while dealing with a grueling NL West. Lamb is way too far behind Bryant to make a move, but if there’s any justice, Nolan Arenado will overtake Bryant.

By Keith Allison (Flickr)

Odds to start at 3B

  • Kris Bryant, Cubs: 7/8
  • Nolan Arenado, Rockies: 5/4
  • FIELD: 42/1

Shortstop

If there’s one NL position I’d like to freeze the voting on, it’s shortstop. Zack Cozart, who plays in a smaller market in Cincinnati, currently leads the voting, and the numbers support his standing. The Red is hitting an impressive .329 at the plate with nine home runs and 33 RBIs.

If there’s one player who should be nipping at Cozart’s heels, it’s Arizona’s Chris Owings, who leads NL shortstops with 37 RBIs and a .297 batting average. His defense hasn’t been great, though, and he’s not an everyday shortstop, either. If Cozart does lose the vote, it’ll likely be to Corey Seager, who is having a pretty good year with the Dodgers in the massive LA market.

Odds to start at SS

  • Zack Cozart, Reds: 13/7
  • Corey Seager, Dodgers: 7/3
  • Addison Russell, Cubs: 5/2
  • FIELD: 29/2

Outfield

I’ll keep my complaints short here: Bryce Harper and Charlie Blackmon deserve each and every vote they have received and will continue to receive. Marcell Ozuna deserves the third outfield spot. His offensive numbers are far superior to any Cubs outfielder, and he hardly gives up any ground with the glove.

Odds to start in OF

  • Bryce Harper, Nationals: 1/50
  • Charlie Blackmon, Rockies: 1/24
  • Jason Heyward, Cubs: 3/1
  • Matt Kemp, Braves: 4/1
  • Ben Zobrist, Cubs: 4/1
  • Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins: 5/1
  • Marcell Ozuna, Marlins: 11/2
  • FIELD: 10/1

Pitcher

If this were up to the fans to decide as well, I’m sure we’d see Jon Lester and his 4.13 ERA trotting out to the mound in the first inning for the NL. Fortunately, that won’t be the case. Instead, we should see either Clayton Kershaw or Max Scherzer, so long as neither start on the Sunday before the break (July 9).

Barring any movement in the two teams’ respective rotations, Kershaw would be available to pitch the All-Star Game on six days’ rest, and Scherzer would be on four days’ rest.

Odds to start at P

  • Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers: 7/4
  • Max Scherzer, Nationals: 7/3
  • Mike Leake, Cardinals: 4/1
  • FIELD: 19/3

Aaron Judge/Home Run Derby

Odds Aaron Judge wins the Home Run Derby: 1/1

Odds anyone hits a home run farther than 496 feet this year: 6/1

Odds anyone not named Aaron Judge hits a home run farther than 496 feet this year: 49/1

The scariest part of Judge’s mammoth 496-foot bomb wasn’t how far it traveled, but the casualness of his swing; it didn’t look like he put any extra muscle into it. If he competes in the Derby, he will win, and I won’t be surprised when he breaks 500 feet.

Over/under total home runs for Judge in 2017: 41.5

Odds Judge wins AL MVP: 2/1

If pitchers continue throwing to him, Judge could break 60 home runs this season — he’s on pace for just over 58. But managers aren’t going to keep letting Judge hurt them.

Perry

Perry is a regular contributor to MTS and a die-hard Broncos fan. Yes, he does remember the five Super Bowl losses, but likely remembers all your teams shortcomings, too. Consider yourself warned. Though his love for the Broncos may seem unconditional, Mr. Port never mixes his emotions with gambling.