For those who haven’t paid much attention recently, MLB All-Star voting has changed recently.
The first phase of voting for the MLB All-Star Game closed Thursday at noon ET. It’s something akin to a primary in a political race, as the field is narrowed down to two finalists at each of the infield positions, as well as designated hitter, and six in the outfield from each league.
The top two vote getters from phase one are automatically named to the midsummer classic roster. Unsurprisingly, those players were Ronald Acuna and Shohei Ohtani.
Phase two runs Monday, June 26 at noon ET through Thursday, June 29 at noon ET. In phase two, fans narrow the remaining field down to a traditional starting lineup, selecting one starter from each of the infield positions and three in the outfield from each league. The results of the vote will be announced at 7 p.m. ET on Thursday, and all winners will head to Seattle to play in the All-Star Game on July 11.
While the fans have a heavy say in the lineups, the eight pitchers (five starters, three relievers) are selected by a player vote rather than the fans. Finally, the remaining 15 bench spots are selected by the Commissioner’s Office.
Following below is where we stand at each position when voting reopens on Monday, and compare that to our original picks for the All-Star starters:
Two rising stars will vie for the starting role in the American League, as Adley Rutschman of the Baltimore Orioles and Jonah Heim of the Texas Rangers made it through to phase two of the voting.
It’s no surprise that Rutschman has quickly elevated his game, as he was a highly touted prospect and selected first overall in the 2019 MLB Draft. Meanwhile, Heim is maintaining a career-best .276 average and has already posted his career-high with 54 RBI across only 263 plate appearances.
In the National League, Will Smith of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Sean Murphy of the Atlanta Braves will vie for the starting job. This duo leads all players at the position in Fangraphs Wins Above Replacement (WAR), with Smith doing most of his damage with his bat and Murphy providing more of a well-rounded profile.
The vote at first base in the National League may carry the strongest storyline of any, as Matt Olson of the Atlanta Braves and Freddie Freeman of the Los Angeles Dodgers will square off.
Freeman is an icon in Atlanta but left the team in free agency prior to the 2022 season. The Braves moved on from Freeman by trading for Olson from the Oakland Athletics, and he has mashed 55 home runs in his first 235 games with his new club.
In the American League, we have a superstar in Vladimir Guerrero Jr. of the Toronto Blue Jays and Yandy Diaz of the Tampa Bay Rays. Name value certainly suggests that Guerrero should get the nod, but Diaz has posted a .909 OPS and has shown a true power breakout with a .515 slugging percentage.
The Rangers have another nomination – this will be a theme — with Marcus Semien at second base. He’s tied for the third in the entire American League in WAR (2.8). Quite frankly, it shouldn’t be a contest between he and Whit Merrifield of the Jays.
The National League race is a bit more interesting at the keystone. Luis Arraez of the Miami Marlins is chasing history, as he’s maintained a .397 batting average across 295 plate appearances. He adds little power value, but his average has the potential to catch the attention of fans.
Ozzie Albies is the third Atlanta representative in as many positions, and he’s deserving of making it to phase two as he leads the position in home runs (17) and is second in RBI (53).
It’s more of the same at the hot corner, as Atlanta has yet another nomination in Austin Riley. He’s up against another pure slugger at the hot corner in Nolan Arenado of the underachieving St. Louis Cardinals. Both have been underwhelming by statistical measures, but their name value far outweighs any of the competition in the National League.
Speaking of more of the same, we have additional representatives from the Jays and Rangers, respectively, in Matt Chapman and Josh Jung in the American League. Jung has bounced back from shoulder surgery that limited his rookie year in 2022, and his first extended look in the majors has been quite impressive.
It seems that fans forgot any teams exist outside of Texas, Toronto and Atlanta, as we have Corey Seager, Bo Bichette and Orlando Arcia as finalists at shortstop. The outlier is Francisco Lindor of the New York Mets.
Seager missed around five weeks from mid-April to mid-May, but he has a ridiculous 189 wRC+. Bichette has been steadier and is tied with Lindor for lead in home runs at the position with 14. Arcia surprisingly beat out Vaughn Grissom for the starting job during spring training, and that surprise has continued for the first three months of the season as he’s maintained an .889 OPS.
Because Acuna was already selected to the All-Star game in phase one of voting, we have four options in the National League for two spots. The Dodgers get their third player into the voting in Mookie Betts, who continues to steadily produce like a superstar.
The upstart Arizona Diamondbacks got a pair of players into phase two. Lourdes Gurriel has bounced back with a change of scenery after an offseason trade to the desert, and Corbin Carroll has lived up to his hype as a former top overall prospect by delivering 3.4 WAR – tied with Ronald Acuna for the lead at any position.
It would be a big disappointment if we didn’t see the youngster roaming the outfield in the midsummer classic. Speaking of disappointment, Michael Harris has been just that this season and got the Atlanta bump to reach this stage in the voting.
Switching over to the American League, we have two impressive sluggers in Yordan Alvarez of the Houston Astros and Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees. Unfortunately, both are injured and will be racing the clock to be back on the field in time for the All-Star Game. The remaining candidates are Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels, who needs no further introduction.
Many doubted Adolis Garcia of the Rangers due to some shaky plate discipline upon entering the season, though he’s improved his strikeout rate to 25.7 percent and upped his walk rate to 9.5 percent. Kevin Kiermaier of the Jays is a defensive stalwart, though he also benefitted from the Toronto bump in the first phase of voting.
Ohtani will be the designated hitter for the American League, so the only vote remaining is in the National League. That race will come down to J.D. Martinez of the Dodgers and Bryce Harper of the Philadelphia Phillies.
Martinez has tapped into power (.571 slugging percentage) many thought would be gone in his age-35 season. Meanwhile, Harper made a quick and impressive return from Tommy John surgery, which was originally projected to keep him sidelined until the All-Star break. That makes his 118 wRC+ that much more impressive.
Photo credit: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire
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