MLB Players Primed to Be 1st-Time All-Stars in 2023
One of the biggest debates every MLB season comes when the All-Star Game rosters are announced and a handful of deserving players are inevitably snubbed. Those snubs are especially controversial when it's a player vying for his first career All-Star selection.
By the time rosters were announced and injured players were replaced, there were a whopping 37 first-time All-Stars in 2022, including Alejandro Kirk (TOR) and Jazz Chisholm Jr. (MIA) who were voted as starters by the fans.
So who might follow suit next season?
Ahead we've selected 15 players with the best chances of becoming first-time All-Stars in 2023, based on their previous track record and future outlook.
Let's start with an honorable-mention list of 15 others who were considered.
15 Others with All-Star Potential
These 15 players didn't quite crack our final list, but they are more than capable of punching their ticket to the Midsummer Classic for the first time in 2023:
LF Randy Arozarena, Tampa Bay Rays
RP Alexis Díaz, Cincinnati Reds
2B/SS Tommy Edman, St. Louis Cardinals
SP Logan Gilbert, Seattle Mariners
1B Rhys Hoskins, Philadelphia Phillies
RP Raisel Iglesias, Atlanta Braves (How has he never been an All-Star?!)
SP Merrill Kelly, Arizona Diamondbacks
C Cal Raleigh, Seattle Mariners
CF Luis Robert, Chicago White Sox
RP Paul Sewald, Seattle Mariners
SP Brady Singer, Kansas City Royals
C Tyler Stephenson, Cincinnati Reds
SP Spencer Strider, Atlanta Braves
SP Ranger Suárez, Philadelphia Phillies
LF Daulton Varsho, Toronto Blue Jays
SS Willy Adames, Milwaukee Brewers
Trying to be a first-time All-Star at shortstop in the National League is no small task, with 2022 All-Stars Trea Turner, Xander Bogaerts and Dansby Swanson all vying for a spot—as well as four-time All-Star Francisco Lindor.
Milwaukee Brewers budding star Willy Adames has the tools to join that top-tier group in 2023.
The 27-year-old ranked second among all shortstops with 31 home runs last year, and that power production coupled with his strong defense (9 DRS, 5.4 UZR/150) made him a 4.4-WAR player and one of the faces of the Milwaukee roster.
RHP Félix Bautista, Baltimore Orioles
More than a few eyebrows were raised when a contending Baltimore Orioles team traded All-Star closer Jorge López at the deadline, but that deal was made possible by the emergence of Félix Bautista as a viable replacement.
The 27-year-old rookie logged a 2.19 ERA, 0.93 WHIP and 12.1 K/9 with 15 saves in 65 appearances, and his .166 opponents' batting average ranked 10th among all qualified relievers.
Armed with a fastball that averaged 99.2 mph and an elite splitter that generated a 53.3 percent whiff rate, Bautista has the stuff to be an elite closer, and he should see plenty of save opportunities on an up-and-coming Orioles squad.
RHP Dylan Cease, Chicago White Sox
Dylan Cease showed flashes of bigger things to come in 2021 when he piled up 226 strikeouts in 165.2 innings, good for a 12.3 K/9 rate that trailed only Corbin Burnes (12.6) among all qualified starters.
The 27-year-old went 9-4 with a 2.15 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 12.9 K/9 in 19 starts during the first half last season, making him arguably the biggest snub in either league when All-Star rosters were announced.
He went on to finish 14-8 with a 2.20 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 227 strikeouts in 184 innings, and while he led the AL with 78 walks, his .190 opponents' batting average helped offset those free passes as he finished as the runner-up in AL Cy Young voting.
SS Oneil Cruz, Pittsburgh Pirates
Closer David Bednar was the Pittsburgh Pirates' lone All-Star representative during the 2022 season, and they could see another first-time selection get the nod during the upcoming year.
Shortstop Oneil Cruz ranked among the MLB leaders in average exit velocity (91st percentile) and sprint speed (98th percentile), illustrating his rare combination of power and speed, to go along with a cannon arm on defense.
The 24-year-old dealt with some ups and downs in his first extended MLB action, but he finished on a high note with an .884 OPS and 14 extra-base hits in 131 plate appearances over the final month of the season. Expect bigger and better things in 2023.
RHP Zac Gallen, Arizona Diamondbacks
There is a legitimate case to be made that Arizona Diamondbacks right-hander Zac Gallen was the best pitcher in baseball during the second half of the 2022 season.
In 14 starts after the All-Star break, he went 8-2 with a 1.49 ERA, 0.74 WHIP and 103 strikeouts in 90.1 innings. He logged an elite .151 opponents' batting average and tossed nine quality starts over the final two months, and rattled off an eye-popping 44.1-innings scoreless streak at one point.
The 27-year-old is baseball's most underrated ace, and after finishing fifth in 2022 NL Cy Young voting, he should finally start to get the recognition he deserves while anchoring the rotation for a D-backs team that could be a sneaky contender.
CF Michael Harris II, Atlanta Braves
Michael Harris II immediately emerged as one of the best center fielders in baseball after making his MLB debut on May 28, and he ultimately edged out teammate Spencer Strider for NL Rookie of the Year honors.
The 21-year-old jumped straight from Double-A to the majors and hit .297/.339/.514 for a 135 OPS+ with 27 doubles, 19 home runs, 64 RBI and 20 steals in 114 games.
His 5.3 WAR trailed only Mike Trout (6.3) and Julio Rodríguez (6.2) among all center fielders in 2022, and by the end of the regular season he was hitting No. 3 in a stacked Atlanta lineup. His batted-ball metrics have no giant red flags, and there is every reason to believe he'll be a perennial All-Star candidate in the coming years.
RHP Cristian Javier, Houston Astros
Cristian Javier enjoyed flashes of brilliance during the Houston Astros' 2022 postseason run, turning in top-notch starts in the ALCS (5.1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 5 K) and World Series (6.0 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 9 K).
That came after he rattled off a 25.1-inning scoreless streak to close out the 2022 regular season, giving him a 2.54 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and 194 strikeouts in 148.2 innings on the year.
The 25-year-old will be asked to pick up some of the slack following the departure of AL Cy Young winner Justin Verlander, and he has the elite swing-and-miss stuff to anchor the rotation alongside Framber Valdez.
1B Nathaniel Lowe, Texas Rangers
Only Aaron Judge (1.286) and Yordan Alvarez (.968) had a higher OPS than Nathaniel Lowe (.964) after the All-Star break, as he hit .339/.399/.566 with 15 home runs in 72 games.
The 27-year-old took home AL Silver Slugger honors over Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Ty France Anthony Rizzo, Luis Arraez and José Abreu, finishing with a 141 OPS+ while tallying 26 doubles, 27 home runs and 76 RBI hitting in the middle of the Texas Rangers lineup.
Those are the same players he'll compete with in 2023 for a spot on the AL All-Star roster, and a step forward in the win-loss department by the Rangers could also help his case.
RHP Triston McKenzie, Cleveland Guardians
Questions about whether Triston McKenzie could hold up to a starter's workload with his wiry 6'5", 165-pound frame were answered in decisive fashion during a breakout 2022 season.
The 25-year-old ranked sixth among AL starters with 191.1 innings pitched, and he logged a 2.96 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and 190 strikeouts along the way while also ranking in the top 10 among all qualified starters with a .201 opponents' batting average.
Over his final 11 outings, he had a 2.27 ERA, 0.87 WHIP and 9.7 K/9 while recording eight quality starts. He also tossed six shutout innings against the Tampa Bay Rays in his first career playoff start, and he enters 2023 poised for another big season alongside Shane Bieber at the top of the Cleveland rotation.
CF Brandon Nimmo, New York Mets
Brandon Nimmo has a shiny, new $162 million contract and exactly zero All-Star selections, but the latter fact could change in 2023.
Staying healthy has been an issue throughout his MLB tenure, but he played in a career-high 151 games in 2022, marking just the second time he has suited up for at least 100 games in a season. With his 130 OPS+ and a career-high 5.1 WAR, his pay day was well-earned, and he'll once again be tasked with setting the table for a deep, talented lineup.
Playing in a major market also helps his cause, as plenty of eyes will be on the Mets this season, and another year with a strong on-base percentage, good power numbers and solid defense could earn him his first All-Star nod.
SS Jeremy Peña, Houston Astros
Even with Xander Bogaerts and Carlos Correa moving to the National League—assuming Correa's deal ever gets finalized with the Mets—there is still a deep pool of shortstop talent in the American League.
Tim Anderson, Bo Bichette, Javier Báez, Corey Seager and Trevor Story all have at least one All-Star selection, but don't be surprised if 2022 postseason hero Jeremy Peña crashes the party next year.
The 25-year-old had a 101 OPS+ with 20 doubles, 22 home runs and 4.8 WAR while becoming the first rookie shortstop ever to win Gold Glove honors, and he capped his stellar debut by winning ALCS and World Series MVP honors.
C Adley Rutschman, Baltimore Orioles
Hot take: Adley Rutschman will be the best catcher in baseball in 2023.
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 draft wasted no time getting acclimated to the big leagues as a rookie, logging a 128 OPS+ with 35 doubles, 13 home runs, 42 RBI, 70 runs scored and 5.2 WAR in just 113 games.
He also threw out 31 percent of base stealers, ranked as one of the best pitch-framers in the league and finished as the runner-up in AL Rookie of the Year voting while also receiving some down-ballot AL MVP support.
There is a fairly easy case to be made that he is already the best catcher in the American League based on his debut performance, and he'll give J.T. Realmuto and Will Smith a run for the title of best in the game in 2023.
C Will Smith, Los Angeles Dodgers
The wealth of All-Star talent on the Los Angeles Dodgers roster has worked to the detriment of Will Smith, as there are only so many spots up for grabs and every team needs at least one representative.
That said, he'll eventually get the recognition he deserves, as he was once again one of the most productive catchers in baseball during the 2022 season.
The 27-year-old posted a 120 OPS+ with 26 doubles, 24 home runs, 87 RBI and a career-high 4.2 WAR while seeing the majority of his at-bats in the cleanup spot in the lineup. Can he edge out J.T. Realmuto and Willson Contreras for the starting nod in 2023?
LHP Julio Urías, Los Angeles Dodgers
There is not a more obvious first-time All-Star prediction to be made than Julio Urías, who continued his rise as one of the best young pitchers in baseball during the 2022 season on his way to the NL ERA title.
The 26-year-old finished 17-7 with a 2.16 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and 166 strikeouts in 175 innings to finish third in NL Cy Young voting, and he led all qualified pitchers with a pristine 1.26 ERA in 13 starts after the All-Star break.
With Clayton Kershaw no longer the workhorse he was in his prime and Walker Buehler recovering from Tommy John surgery, Urías will be counted on to lead the Dodgers staff.
RHP Logan Webb, San Francisco Giants
Since the All-Star break in 2021, Logan Webb has gone 22-9 with a 2.84 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 263 strikeouts in 288.2 innings over 48 starts.
The departure of Carlos Rodón in free agency makes him the clear-cut ace of the San Francisco Giants rotation, and it's a role he's ready for after going 15-9 with a 2.90 ERA in 192.1 innings last season.
The Giants roster is somewhat lacking in star power, and Webb looks like the best player on the team heading into the 2023 season.
All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference.