I think the MLB All-Star Game is the best all-star game among the four major pro sports leagues in the U.S., but there are some things about it that I don’t like. One is the fact that the winning league determines home-field advantage in the World Series; an exhibition game shouldn’t factor into something as important to that. The other thing I don’t like is the voting, with MLB allowing up to 35 ballots per person — which really means per (throwaway) e-mail address — allowing them to write articles touting how many hundreds of millions of votes are received during the voting period.
Despite the fact that the 2016 MLB season began just three weeks ago today, MLB has already opened up the voting for mid-July’s All-Star Game. I think it’s too early to start voting for all-stars but I’ll play along. So here is my way-too-early all-star ballot for both the American and National leagues. I’ll be updating my ballot in the coming weeks and months as we approach the game on July 12 in San Diego.
1B Chris Davis, Orioles: He’s not hitting for a high average, but he already has 6 home runs, a strong start to his follow-up season after hitting 47 last season. Astros rookie Tyler White got off to a strong start to the season but has slowed a bit over the last week or so.
2B Jose Altuve, Astros: White’s teammate is off to his usual game of hitting and stealing bases, but he’s also continuing the increased power he showed last season, when he hit a career-high 15 home runs; he’s at 5 so far in 2016.
SS Carlos Correa, Astros: The defending American League Rookie of the Year is starting off strong in his first full season in the majors, hitting .286 with 3 home runs.
3B Manny Machado, Orioles: This was a close one between Machado and the Blue Jays’ Josh Donaldson. Donaldson has 1 more home run, but Machado is hitting for a higher average and having a better overall season, in my opinion.
C Brian McCann, Yankees: Catcher is a position that historically isn’t known for offense and the veteran catcher is among the best-hitting catchers in the league so far this season; he’s hitting .300 with 3 home runs.
DH David Ortiz, Red Sox: In his final season before retirement, Ortiz is hitting .284 with 3 home runs. Combining his good season with the fact that he plays for the Red Sox and is on the verge of retirement, I think he’s a lock to be voted in as a starter.
OF Colby Rasmus, Astros; Mike Trout, Angels; Mark Trumbo, Orioles: Rasmus may be a surprising pick to people who don’t follow the Astros, but it’s hard to keep him out of the voting right now, as he’s slashing .302/6/16. Trout’s power isn’t quite there yet, with just 3 home runs, but he’s hitting .302 and is still among the AL’s best outfielders at this point in the season. Trumbo is another name that people might not have expected to see here, but he’s hitting well over .300 with 5 home runs and 15 RBI to date in 2016.
1B Adrian Gonzalez, Dodgers: The veteran first baseman is hitting .352/3/14, helping to lead the Dodgers to first place in the competitive NL West. There are others who have shown more power than Gonzalez so far, but his average puts him over the top. The Diamondbacks’ Paul Goldschmidt could overtake him as the season goes on if he can get his .246 average higher.
2B Neil Walker, Mets: The Mets signed free-agent Walker in the offseason, and so far it’s paying off to the tune of an average approaching .290 and 7 home runs three weeks into the season.
SS Trevor Story, Rockies: The rookie got off to a scorching start, hitting 7 home runs in the first week of the season. He’s hit just 1 since then, but he’s still one of the big stories of the season and I think the leading candidate to get the nod at shortstop as of now.
3B Nolan Arenado, Rockies: Story’s teammate has 7 home runs of his own so far, to go along with a .284 average. Unlike Story, Arenado’s hot start isn’t surprising after he hit 47 home runs in 2015.
C Welington Castillo, Diamondbacks: While the Giants’ Buster Posey is perennially thought of as the best catcher in the National League, it’s hard not to recognize Castillo’s 5 home runs in the first three weeks of the season versus Posey’s 2. Posey can easily overtake Castillo in the coming weeks, but for now I’m giving the Diamondbacks’ backstop the nod.
DH With no DH in the National League, fans don’t get to vote for one.
OF Dexter Fowler, Cubs; Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies; Bryce Harper, Nationals: Fowler is swinging a hot bat for the Cubs, helping to take up some of the slack of disappointing seasons to date by the likes of 3B Kris Bryant and 1B Anthony Rizzo, helping them to one of the best records in the majors. Gonzalez is having a typically strong year, hitting well over .300 with 4 home runs in the early going. Harper, the reigning NL MVP, is already making a strong case to earn that title again this season, with a .311/8/22 slash line.
Starting pitchers are not on the ballot and are chosen by the all-star managers, but I’ll go with a couple of Chicago pitchers, Chris Sale of the White Sox in the AL and the Cubs’ Jake Arrieta in the NL.
Again, I’ll be updating the ballot as the season continues so keep checking back in for updates.