MLB

2023 MLB All-Star Game: The Most Deserving Starters

August 22, 2023

MLB All-Star voting is underway, with fans dictating the starting positions in each league through two phases of voting. The first phase narrows down the field to the top-two vote getters at each position. The top two overall vote getters from each league skip phase two, which further narrows down the field from two players at each position to one.

For those fans that want to put their team allegiances to the side and vote based on merit, here are our top current choices at each position and in each league. (All-Star voting ends June 22.)

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National League

C — This is fairly straightforward. Sean Murphy of the Atlanta Braves and Will Smith of the Los Angeles Dodgers stand out well above the pack as measured by wins above replacement (WAR). Either is a defensible selection, but Murphy should get the nod as he provides a more balanced skillset as an above-average contributor both with the bat and behind the plate.

1B — The All-Star Game is all about entertainment, which also makes the choice at first base simple. Pete Alonso of the New York Mets has doubled up every other player at the position with 21 home runs also good for the lead across the entire league. Freddie Freeman of the Dodgers and Paul Goldschmidt of the St. Louis Cardinals are also worthy vote-getters, but we all want to see bombs over the fence during the Midsummer Classic.

2B — This is a difficult choice for fans, as there is no true standout. Thairo Estrada from the San Francisco Giants is an interesting case. He is following up his breakout 2022 season with another solid campaign. More than any other player at the keystone, he offers at least some power (.166 ISO) and strong defense to go along with speed (13 SB).

Luis Arraez of the Miami Marlins deserves a shoutout as he entered Tuesday’s games hitting .399, but he lacks any other standout skill. If he can maintain an average near .400 for another month, he should get plenty of votes for maintaining a historical pace.

SS — This is another intriguing battle of name value against actual production. Francisco Lindor, teammates with Alonso, and Xander Bogaerts of the San Diego Padres offer the most name value. However, Lindor is hitting only .213 while Bogaerts has been held back in his performance due to a lingering thumb injury.

While two will likely lead the vote, Dansby Swanson should be the choice. He isn’t spectacular in any one area but has been a solid all-around contributor after signing with the Chicago Cubs this offseason.

3B — The hot corner is relatively barren when it comes to big-name performers. Jeimer Candelario of the Washington Nationals leads the league in WAR. While the fans aren’t likely to vote him in, he could very well be the representative of the team in our nation’s capital.

But if we’re circling back to the same logic as Alonso at the opposite corner infield spot, Max Muncy of the Dodgers has blasted 18 home runs this season and the duo would form a powerful tandem in the middle of the order.

OF — To fill a starting lineup we need three outfielders, so six make the cut through phase one of the voting process. However, the decision shouldn’t be difficult for fans. Ronald Acuna brings quality play and excitement in every aspect of the game, as he’s slugged 12 home runs and swiped 26 bases while also maintaining a .331 batting average with Atlanta.

Mookie Betts should join his teammates from Los Angeles, as he’s put together an unsurprisingly stellar campaign at the plate and has defensive versatility — he’s regularly starting along the infield as well as the outfield.

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We’ll stay out west for the third position, as exciting rookie Corbin Carroll has met his lofty expectations as one of the top prospects in the league. He’s been a lesser version of Acuna, piling up a combined 26 stolen bases and home runs while hitting .286 for the Arizona Diamondbacks. For those who complain that baseball is boring, this trio would certainly bring some excitement to one of the league’s signature events.

SP  — The last position to consider is pitcher. There are a number of strong candidates to start the game. Spencer Strider has maintained a whopping 40.6 percent strikeout rate in Atlanta, which is difficult to argue with — especially if he’s going to start a game and pitch for two innings, max.

Arizona’s Zac Gallen leads all pitchers in WAR, and Logan Webb of the Giants has a career-best 1.04 WHIP and ERA under 3.00. Finally, Mitch Keller has finally taken the leap may had hoped for and is the ace of the surprising first-place Pittsburgh Pirates.

American League

C — Corey Seager, Marcus Semien and Adolis Garcia get most of the spotlight with the Texas Rangers, but Jonah Heim is in the midst of a breakout season and should be recognized. He’s nearly matched his RBI total from 2022 in under half the plate appearances, and he’s also an excellent defender.

Other youngsters such as Cal Raleigh of the host Seattle Mariners and Adley Rutschman of the Baltimore Orioles will also rack up votes, but Heim is deserving of the nod.

1B — First base is a position lacking an obvious choice as well as the typical star power we may expect. Yandy Diaz has finally found a way to lift the ball more regularly with the Rays this season, and he is only outpaced by teammate Luke Raley for the highest ISO at the position in the American League. The rest of Diaz’s skillset has also been impressive, so he’s deserving of making his first All-Star Game appearance.

2B — Forget All-Star candidate — Marcus Semien of the Rangers should be in the MVP conversation with his play so far. He should be a runaway winner at second base, particularly with Jose Altuve sidelined for nearly the entire season to this point. He’s the league leader in total WAR as of this writing.

SS — There’s a two-man race at shortstop between division rivals Wander Franco and Bo Bichette, of the Rays and Toronto Blue Jays, respectively. Franco has stayed mostly healthy and is running wild on the basepaths (21 SB) while also chipping in some power and excellent defense. Bichette leads the position in batting average and RBI, though he doesn’t make the same types of contributions in different areas of the game as Franco.

3B — Based on the number of Rangers players being mentioned, it should be no surprise that the team is having an excellent season. Josh Jung is yet another option to jump on the radar from Texas, as he’s hit for power while also maintaining a surprising .294 batting average in his rookie season. His primary competition will come from Matt Chapman of the Jays, who has maintained a career-best .281 average without surrendering much in terms of power.

OF — In contrast to the dynamic trio in the National League, the American League outfield can mash with the best of them. Yordan Alvarez of the Houston Astros and Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees should be locks after combining to blast 35 homers across 103 games through Monday night. The third slot is difficult, as Luis Robert of the Chicago White Sox, Randy Azozarena of the Rays and Adolis Garcia of the Rangers all have a very reasonable case. In a lineup that could be heavy on Rangers and Rays, let’s get some different teams in the mix and vote in Robert.

SP — The decision at pitcher should be surprisingly easy thanks to the dominance that Kevin Gausman has displayed north of the border. The Blue Jays starter is tied with Nathan Eovaldi of the Rangers in WAR but is also among the league leaders in strikeouts while maintaining an excellent walk rate. Shane McClanahan of the Rays should also be a part of this conversation.

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