While players like Miguel Cabrera and Andrew McCutchen were no-doubt starters, the others waiting in the wings have put together stellar seasons. Whether it's mashing huge home runs or simply showing consistency throughout the year, some of the best players this season are on the bench.
The depth of the American League roster has earned the most buzz since the players were announced, but the National League offers some serious punch as well. Dee Gordon, Todd Frazier and Freddie Freeman might not attract a lot of attention but have all been outstanding this season.
Before the All-Star Game gets underway on July 15, here's a look at some of the reserves who will make a huge impact in the Midsummer Classic.
Jonathan Lucroy, C, Milwaukee Brewers
He might be a first-time All Star, but Jonathan Lucroy has been lighting it up for the Milwaukee Brewers throughout his career.
In his previous four seasons in Milwaukee, Lucroy hit over .300 just once. However, he has always hit for power with double-digit homers in the last three years. Heading into his first All-Star Game, he's just one shy of reaching that mark yet again.
How great of a year is he putting together for the Brewers? Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports has him at the top of the NL MVP race, noting his brilliance thus far:
Lucroy, meanwhile, is the NL’s most indispensable player, anchoring the offense and defense of a Milwaukee Brewers team with the league’s best record. ...
If handed a ballot today, I’d cast my vote for Lucroy. He ranks sixth in the NL with a .907 OPS while catching the fourth-most innings in the majors. He’s one of the top defensive catchers in baseball — particularly when it comes to framing pitches — and is arguably the biggest reason the Brewers have exceeded expectations by such a large margin this year.
In short, Morosi is trying to explain that Lucroy can literally do it all on the diamond.
While he'll be sitting behind six-time All-Star Yadier Molina, Lucroy stands a great shot of making it into the lineup late in the game. Given his power and consistency at the plate, the Brewers' catcher will make the most of his opportunity.
As for what the players thought, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel provides a look at the vote:
Molina has been a great catcher for years and is clearly a fan favorite. Lucroy might just take over that spot if he puts on a show on July 15.
Jose Abreu, 1B, Chicago White Sox
When it comes to Jose Abreu, the bat in his hands seems more like a weapon than a piece of sports equipment.
The 27-year-old rookie has single-handedly helped the Chicago White Sox win multiple games with his power. Though he's already a veteran player out of Cuba, MLB Stat of the Day notes just how special his start has been in the majors:
Currently, Abreu has a .281 average with 27 homers and 69 RBI in just 78 games played. I say currently because all three numbers have a chance of changing with the way he swings the bat.
Unfortunately, MLB fans were denied a chance to see his extreme power in the Home Run Derby this year. The White Sox slugger believes it might affect him moving forward, as Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
"That’s not a priority right now," Abreu said. "You go out and try to hit home runs. I’m not a guy who tries to hit home runs; I let them come whenever they come. And sometimes it messes with your mechanics."
While Abreu would have been a great addition to the derby, he'll put on a show when he's inserted into the lineup. Though there's a good chance Cabrera remains on the field throughout the matchup, Abreu will find his way into the batter's box in the Midsummer Classic.
Giancarlo Stanton, OF, Miami Marlins
Abreu might not be in the Home Run Derby, but Giancarlo Stanton and his 420-plus-foot dingers will be.
The Miami Marlins star has been a much better all-around player this season but can still mash when he gets in the box. With 21 homers this year, ESPN Stats & Info provides a staggering statistic regarding the power in his bat:
Needless to say, if he gets into one, fans in the third deck at Target Field might want to watch out.
And tack on the fact that his average distance of 423.8 is the best in the MLB this year, according to ESPN's Home Run Tracker. But the 24-year-old has also proven his consistency with a .302 average and .955 OPS, plus eight stolen bases—already a career high.
In a stellar year, All-Star Week will be Stanton's chance to shine. Whether it's during the Home Run Derby or coming off the bench for the likes of McCutchen, Carlos Gomez or Yasiel Puig, he'll make his mark at Target Field.
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