Every MLB Team's Most Surprising All-Star Candidate

Joel ReuterFeatured ColumnistMay 23, 2012

Every MLB Team's Most Surprising All-Star Candidate

0 of 30

    The All-Star game is still a-month-and-a-half away, but it is never too early to begin forecasting who will make the Midsummer Classic rosters this coming July.

    The usual suspects are easy to predict, as many of the same superstars make the roster year-in and year-out, but the surprise selection always adds some fun to the event.

    So here is a look at each team's most surprising All-Star candidate, with the season roughly a quarter of the way over.

Arizona Diamondbacks

1 of 30

    Player

    SP Wade Miley

    Stats

    9 G, 6 GS, 5-1, 2.14 ERA, 30 K, 46.1 IP

    Player Overview

    The NL Rookie of the Month in April, Miley opened the season in the bullpen, but was quickly added to the rotation when Daniel Hudson went down with an injury.

    The Diamondbacks' first-round pick back in 2008, Miley entered the season as the team's No. 8 prospect according to Baseball America, and while he was solid in an eight-game audition last season, no one could have expected him to breakout like he has.

    Chances He Makes All-Star Team

    60 percent

Atlanta Braves

2 of 30

    Player

    SP Brandon Beachy

    Stats

    9 GS, 5-2, 1.77 ERA, 44 K, 61 IP

    Player Overview

    Despite a solid season last year, in which he went 7-3 with a 3.68 ERA over 25 starts, Beachy had to win his rotation spot this spring, with so many good young pitchers in the Braves organization.

    Luckily for the team, he did, as he has been among the best pitchers in baseball this season, as he currently has the best ERA among qualifiers. The 25-year-old doesn't have overwhelming stuff, but he has dominated hitters to this point.

    Chances He Makes All-Star Team

    75 percent

Baltimore Orioles

3 of 30

    Player

    RP Jim Johnson

    Stats

    19 G, 15-of-15 SV, 0.92 ERA, 14 K, 19.2 IP

    Player Overview

    The Orioles are the surprise team of the season, and no single player has been as big of a surprise for them than closer Jim Johnson.

    One of the league's top setup men in years past, Johnson had posted a 3.02 ERA over 256 innings in 213 appearances the past four seasons. He won the closer's job out of camp and has been nearly perfect, converting every save chance and posting a 0.81 WHIP.

    Chances He Makes All-Star Team

    95 percent

Boston Red Sox

4 of 30

    Player

    SS Mike Aviles

    Stats

    .273/.299/.483, 8 HR, 28 RBI, 27 R

    Player Overview

    While having an OBP under .300 is rough, Aviles has managed to make up for it with some surprising power, as he ranks second in home runs and first in runs batted in among shortstops.

    His 1.9 WAR currently ranks 10th overall in the American League and he has been terrific in stepping in for the traded Marco Scutaro. In the end, he is one of the few things that have gone right in Boston, and is producing at a premium position.

    Chances He Makes All-Star Team

    30 percent

Chicago Cubs

5 of 30

    Player

    1B Bryan LaHair

    Stats

    .315/.413/.622, 10 HR, 21 RBI, 18 R

    Player Overview

    After posting a .331 average, 38 home run, 109 RBI season at Triple-A last year, LaHair was handed first-base duties to open the season. He was expected to simply be a stop-gap option until newly-acquired first-base prospect Anthony Rizzo was ready.

    Instead, he has been among the most productive power hitters in all of baseball despite hitting in a poor Cubs lineup. While Rizzo's arrival won't be delayed because of the 29-year-old LaHair, he's likely played himself into a starting job in the outfield or a trade once the youngster is ready.

    Chances He Makes All-Star Team

    25 percent

Chicago White Sox

6 of 30

    Player

    SP Jake Peavy

    Stats

    9 GS, 5-1, 2.39 ERA, 55 K, 64 IP

    Player Overview

    Not many former Cy Young winners can be considered surprise All-Star candidates, but after making just 36 appearances with a 4.77 ERA over the past two seasons, he is just that.

    Still only 31, Peavy is in a contract year and depending on how the White Sox' season plays out, he could be made available at the trade deadline. Regardless of what happens, he has returned to form and certainly looks the part of an All-Star.

    Chances He Makes All-Star Team

    55 percent

Cincinnati Reds

7 of 30

    Player

    RP Aroldis Chapman

    Stats

    19 G, 3-0, 2-of-3 SV, 0.00 ERA, 41 K, 23.1 IP

    Player Overview

    Recent traffic violation aside, it has been a banner season for the flame-throwing Chapman, as he has yet to allow an earned run while posting a filthy 15.8 K/9 mark.

    More impressively, he's walked just seven batters in 23.1 innings of work, as his control woes look to be a thing of the past. He's recently moved into the closer's role in Cincinnati, but even as a setup man he has been All-Star worthy.

    Chances He Makes All-Star Team

    50 percent

Cleveland Indians

8 of 30

    Player

    SP Derek Lowe

    Stats

    9 GS, 6-2, 2.15 ERA, 15 K, 58.2 IP

    Player Overview

    The Braves more or less gave Lowe away this offseason, as they sent the 39-year-old and $10 million of the $15 million left on his contract to the Indians for a low-level minor leaguer.

    In acquiring him, the Indians hoped to add a veteran presence and innings eater to their young rotation, but instead they have gotten a staff ace, as the sinkerballer looks like he's in his prime again.

    Chances He Makes All-Star Team

    70 percent

Colorado Rockies

9 of 30

    Player

    No One

    Stats

    N/A

    Player Overview

    Carlos Gonzalez (.301 BA, 8 HR, 32 RBI) will represent the Rockies in the All-Star game. He's the only player on the team worthy of being called an All-Star and one of the few that has not drastically under-performed.

    Maybe 49-year-old Jamie Moyer will get the nod, after all, even at 2-4 with a 4.99 ERA, he's been the team's best starting pitcher to this point. In the end, though, the Rockies are bad (15-27), and CarGo will be their lone representative.

    Chances He Makes All-Star Team

    N/A

Detroit Tigers

10 of 30

    Player

    CF Austin Jackson

    Stats

    .331/.414/.544, 5 HR, 17 RBI, 29 R

    Player Overview

    A productive speed threat atop the Tigers lineup over the past two seasons, Jackson has failed to fit the true leadoff hitter profile with a 351/103 K/BB ratio.

    However, this season he has a 29/20 K/BB ratio and as a result he has posted better numbers across the board. He's been a standout on a somewhat disappointing Tigers team, and certainly deserves a nod for his performance.

    Chances He Makes All-Star Team

    70 percent

Houston Astros

11 of 30

    Player

    2B Jose Altuve

    Stats

    .310/.360/.437, 2 HR, 13 RBI, 23 R

    Player Overview

    He's not much to look at, standing just 5'5", but Altuve has been consistent atop the Astros' lineup this season and his minor league track record says he has the ability to keep it up.

    The 22-year-old hit .327 in 1,466 minor league at-bats, so the history of success is there, and he could be a big part of the Astros' rebuilding efforts moving forward. 

    Chances He Makes All-Star Team

    40 percent

Kansas City Royals

12 of 30

    Player

    DH Billy Butler

    Stats

    .301/.361/.515, 8 HR, 31 RBI, 18 R

    Player Overview

    After averaging a .303 batting average, 18 home runs and 89 runs batted in over the past three seasons, Butler is not as big a surprise as some of the other names on this list, but he has taken his game to the next level this season.

    His power has jumped up a notch and he has a real chance of making the All-Star team this season as the biggest producer on the host Royals roster.

    Chances He Makes All-Star Team

    80 percent

Los Angeles Angels

13 of 30

    Player

    OF Mike Trout

    Stats

    .350/.413/.600, 4 HR, 12 RBI, 15 R

    Player Overview

    One of the top prospects in all of baseball entering the season, Trout earned a call-up earlier than expected as the Angels have struggled across the board offensively.

    He he put up the above numbers over just 80 at-bats, and has been one of the few things that have gone right for the Angels this year. If he keeps playing at the level he has, he could very well make his way onto the All-Star team.

    Chances He Makes All-Star Team

    30 percent

Los Angeles Dodgers

14 of 30

    Player

    C A.J. Ellis

    Stats

    .321/.446/.491, 3 HR, 19 RBI, 13 R

    Player Overview

    After splitting the past four years between Triple-A and the majors, Ellis was finally given the Dodgers' everyday catching job, and he has thrived in the role.

    He has the best OBP among catchers in both leagues, and he should continue to produce as long as his plate discipline is unchanged. Ted Lilly (5-0, 1.79 ERA) certainly deserves a mention as well.

    Chances He Makes All-Star Team

    40 percent

Miami Marlins

15 of 30

    Player

    SP Carlos Zambrano

    Stats

    8 GS, 2-2, 1.96 ERA, 41 K, 55 IP

    Player Overview

    Acquired from the Cubs for Chris Volstad this winter, Zambrano has had trouble controlling his emotions throughout his career and he finally wore out his welcome in Chicago after a pair of blowups last season.

    However, he has thrived after being given a fresh start, as he has gone at least six innings in each of his eight starts and recorded quality starts in all but one of those outings.

    Chances He Makes All-Star Team

    55 percent

Milwaukee Brewers

16 of 30

    Player

    C Jonathan Lucroy

    Stats

    .344/.390/.568, 4 HR, 27 RBI, 14 R

    Player Overview

    In his first season as a starter last year, Lucroy hit .265 with 12 home runs and 59 runs batted in to post a 1.7 WAR, and at 26 years old he has enjoyed a breakout season so far.

    The NL catcher crop is relatively deep, and the Brewers are off to a slow start, so he may not get the recognition he deserves, but he looks to have the catching job sewn up in Milwaukee moving forward.

    Chances He Makes All-Star Team

    20 percent

Minnesota Twins

17 of 30

    Player

    LF Josh Willingham

    Stats

    .289/.404/.578, 8 HR, 27 RBI, 24 R

    Player Overview

    Signed to a three-year, $21 million contract this season, the Twins hoped Willingham could help offset the loss of All-Star Michael Cuddyer, who signed with the Rockies in the offseason.

    After a 29 home run, 98 RBI season last year, one in which he batted just .246, Willingham has been even better so far this season hitting in a poor Twins lineup. He looks to be the only deserving All-Star in Minnesota so far.

    Chances He Makes All-Star Team

    60 percent

New York Mets

18 of 30

    Player

    SP Johan Santana

    Stats

    9 GS, 1-2, 3.24 ERA, 53 K, 50 IP

    Player Overview

    After missing all of last season following shoulder surgery, Santana has come back strong this season, starting with his Opening Day appearance and never letting up.

    He has gone at least six innings in his last six starts and he is striking out over a batter an inning so far, as slowly but surely, he has begun to return to his once dominant form.

    Chances He Makes All-Star Team

    30 percent

New York Yankees

19 of 30

    Player

    DH/OF Raul Ibanez

    Stats

    .263/.323/.551, 9 HR, 27 RBI

    Player Overview

    Signed to a one-year, $1.1 million contract this offseason, expectations were not particularly high for Ibanez entering this season, as he was viewed as little more than a veteran platoon bat.

    Instead, he has displayed impressive power to rank in the top 10 in home runs and tie for the team lead in RBI. If he continues to post impressive numbers in the bright lights of New York, he certainly has an outside shot to make the All-Star roster.

    Chances He Makes All-Star Team

    15 percent

Oakland Athletics

20 of 30

    Player

    RF Josh Reddick

    Stats

    .277/.335/.536, 11 HR, 24 RBI, 28 R

    Player Overview

    Reddick was acquired from the Red Sox for closer Andrew Bailey this offseason, and he has been the top run-producer for a surprisingly competitive A's team.

    The 25-year-old is building nicely off of his .280 average, seven home run, 28 RBI debut over 254 at-bats, and Reddick has displayed power that he has not shown in the past, so far this season.

    Chances He Makes All-Star Team

    60 percent

Philadelphia Phillies

21 of 30

    Player

    C Carlos Ruiz

    Stats

    .344/.397/.576, 7 HR, 29 RBI, 21 R

    Player Overview

    It has been a disappointing season so far for the Phillies, especially on the offensive side of things, but that is no fault of Ruiz, who currently leads the team in average and RBI.

    It is somewhat surprising he has never been an All-Star, given the Phillies' consistent success and the fact that he has received MVP votes in each of the past two seasons. If he's ever going to make the team, this seems like the year.

    Chances He Makes All-Star Team

    80 percent


Pittsburgh Pirates

22 of 30

    Player

    SP James McDonald

    Stats

    9 GS, 3-2, 2.51 ERA, 58 K, 57.1 IP

    Player Overview

    McDonald has shown flashes of being a frontline starter in the past, but wound up with a 9-9 record and 4.21 ERA. This season, however, has been different as he has seemingly taken a step forward.

    At 27, he is in the prime of his career, and on a staff of under-performing and unproven players, he has emerged as the ace this season.

    Chances He Makes All-Star Team

    20 percent

San Diego Padres

23 of 30

    Player

    RP Dale Thayer

    Stats

    10 G, 5-of-5 SV, 0.00 ERA, 10 K, 10 IP

    Player Overview

    Undrafted out of college, Thayer was signed as a free agent by the Padres, but traded to the Mets before he appeared in a game for San Diego.

    After spending time with the Mets and Rays, he is back in San Diego this season and has stepped in as the Padres' closer, with Huston Street down with an injury. The 31-year-old has been perfect so far, and if he continues to thrive he could very well be the lowly Padres' All-Star representative.

    Chances He Makes All-Star Team

    20 percent

San Francisco Giants

24 of 30

    Player

    LF Melky Cabrera

    Stats

    .360/.409/.509, 2 HR, 17 RBI, 27 R

    Player Overview

    The Giants shipped left-hander Jonathan Sanchez to the Royals this offseason for Cabrera in hopes of bolstering their anemic offense, and he has done just that.

    After a breakout season last year in which he hit .305 with 18 home runs and 87 runs batted in, many believed that Cabrera could be in line for some regression. Instead, he currently leads all of baseball with 63 hits and five triples, as he has been a terrific table-setter for the Giants.

    Chances He Makes All-Star Team

    55 percent

Seattle Mariners

25 of 30

    Player

    3B Kyle Seager

    Stats

    .282/.313/.479, 5 HR, 26 RBI, 18 R

    Player Overview

    Seager saw 182 at-bats in the majors last season, hitting .258 with three home runs and 13 runs batted in, and he has already topped those numbers across the board this year in 40 fewer at-bats.

    He hit .333 with seven home runs and 54 runs batted in before being called up last year, and has shown plenty of offensive potential throughout his career. With a thin crop of third baseman in the AL, Seager has an outside chance to make the squad.

    Chances He Makes All-Star Team

    15 percent

St. Louis Cardinals

26 of 30

    Player

    SS Rafael Furcal

    Stats

    .343/.403/.458, 2 HR, 21 RBI, 30 R

    Player Overview

    Acquired at the deadline last year, Furcal hit .255 with seven home runs and 16 runs batted in over 50 games for the Cardinals, giving them a boost down the stretch on their way to a World Series title.

    The Cardinals brought him back on a two-year, $14 million deal this offseason and at 34, many believed that was too much. However, he has been spectacular atop the Cardinals' lineup so far this season and certainly deserves All-Star recognition.

    Chances He Makes All-Star Team

    80 percent

Tampa Bay Rays

27 of 30

    Player

    RP Fernando Rodney

    Stats

    21 G, 14-of-14 SV, 0.44 ERA, 21 K, 20.2 IP

    Player Overview

    Rodney is fresh off of a two-year, $11 million contract with the Angels, a span in which he posted a 4.32 ERA and went 17-of-28 on save chances.

    He signed a one-year, $2 million deal to join the Rays this season in a setup role, but was quickly forced into closer duties when Kyle Farnsworth hit the disabled list. He has been perfect so far on saves, and that is due in large part to cutting his walk rate from 7.9 BB/9 in 2011 to 1.4 BB/9 in 2012.

    Chances He Makes All-Star Team

    90 percent

Texas Rangers

28 of 30

    Player

    SS Elvis Andrus

    Stats

    .316/.389/.421, 1 HR, 21 RBI, 28 R

    Player Overview

    When Andrus first came up back in 2009 at the age of 20, he was a glove-first shortstop with good speed and a bat that had some upside, but also had some question marks.

    He has improved offensively each season, and he's taken a big step forward early this year while displaying terrific on-base skills as the ideal No. 2 hitter in a potent Rangers lineup.

    Chances He Makes All-Star Team

    50 percent

Toronto Blue Jays

29 of 30

    Player

    DH Edwin Encarnacion

    Stats

    .263/.330/.557, 13 HR, 35 RBI, 24 R

    Player Overview

    Encarnacion has turned into a solid hitter over the past few seasons, hitting 38 home runs and hitting .261, but he has taken his game to the next level this year.

    With Jose Bautista slumping, he has carried the run production load in the middle of the lineup, and with the 29-year-old headed for free agency this offseason it couldn't have come at a better time.

    Chances He Makes All-Star Team

    70 percent

Washington Nationals

30 of 30

    Player

    1B Adam LaRoche

    Stats

    .298/.395/.532, 7 HR, 32 RBI, 15 R

    Player Overview

    After signing a two-year, $16 million contract prior to the 2011 season, LaRoche was a huge let-down last season when he played in just 43 games, hitting just .172.

    This season has been a different story though, as he has led the Nationals offense with Michael Morse and Ryan Zimmerman both missing time with injuries.

    Chances He Makes All-Star Team

    50 percent