2016 MLB All-Star Rosters: B/R's 34-Man Roster Predictions

Zachary D. Rymer@zachrymerMLB Lead WriterJuly 1, 2016

2016 MLB All-Star Rosters: B/R's 34-Man Roster Predictions

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    It's almost time for Big Papi's big sendoff.
    It's almost time for Big Papi's big sendoff.Elise Amendola/Associated Press

    The votes are in, and now we wait for the official word on who's invited to the 2016 Major League Baseball All-Star Game. Perhaps there will be some surprises.

    Unless, of course, all our predictions come true.

    It's been a couple of weeks since our last set of predictions for the 34-man rosters for the American League and National League All-Stars. Things have changed since then. The fan vote closed Thursday night, and the arrival of July means the grand reveal of the rosters (July 5) and the Midsummer Classic itself (July 12) are just about here.

    Like last time, the idea is not to propose which players should be All-Stars. It's to guess who the fans—whose voting patterns have gotten frequent updatesthe players and AL manager Ned Yost and NL manager Terry Collins will choose to be in uniform at Petco Park on July 12. There's also the final vote, which is a total shot in the dark at this juncture.

    Whatever the case, the following is certainly a who's who of excellent ballplayers. Read on and enjoy!

Catchers

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    American League

    Starter

    Salvador Perez (KCR): Perez was closing in on 3.8 million votes earlier this week, the most of any AL player. And that's OK. Jonah Keri of CBS Sports wasn't wrong when he wrote Perez is "traditionally overrated," but his .825 OPS and 12 homers make him the AL's best offensive catcher in 2016.

    Reserves

    Matt Wieters (BAL): Wieters was second among AL catchers in the most recent fan vote and should get similar respect from his peers. He's having a nice bounce-back season with a .786 OPS and nine homers, and he's only getting better after a slow start. Spoiler alert: He's not the only Oriole in this slideshow.

    Stephen Vogt (OAK): Vogt's production isn't drawing the same crowd as last year's, but he's doing fine with a .742 OPS and six homers. Besides, he's a better choice to represent the Oakland A's than Rich Hill, who's missed too much time with an injury, and Marcus Semien, who's overshadowed by better AL shortstops.

    Notable Snub: Brian McCann (NYY)

    National League

    Starter

    Buster Posey (SFG): Posey was trailing Yadier Molina earlier this week, but a Wednesday update on the voting revealed he had surged ahead by over 100,000 votes. Good job, fans! Posey's .813 OPS and nine homers easily trump Molina's offensive output. He also entered Thursday having caught 59 percent of would-be base stealers and, per Baseball Prospectus, rating as one of baseball's best strike-framers.

    Reserves

    Wilson Ramos (WAS): If Posey beats out Molina, it will allow the NL's catcher depth chart to look like it should. It certainly needs to include Ramos, who's hitting .340 with a .947 OPS and 12 homers.

    Jonathan Lucroy (MIL): Lucroy is, without question, the best choice to represent the Milwaukee Brewers. With an .864 OPS and 10 homers, he's bouncing back nicely from a rough 2015.

    Notable Snub: Chris Herrmann (ARI)

First Basemen

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    Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

    American League

    Starter

    Eric Hosmer (KCR): Hosmer was topping Miguel Cabrera by roughly 600,000 votes earlier this week. He doesn't deserve to be leading a superior player by that much, but he is having a nice breakout year with an .857 OPS and a dozen homers. It's the right time for his first All-Star appearance.

    Reserves

    Miguel Cabrera (DET): Miggy has settled into a level of production that's safely below what he was doing a couple of years ago. However, his .908 OPS and 18 homers prove he can still rake. A seventh straight All-Star nod should be his.

    Chris Davis (BAL): It feels like nobody's even whispered Davis' name this year, but he's doing his thing with an .856 OPS and 19 homers. He also has a bit of helium in his system, posting an OPS over 1.000 in June. That should score him some recency bias points.

    Notable Snub: Carlos Santana (CLE)

    National League

    Starter

    Anthony Rizzo (CHC): Monday's update revealed Rizzo still had a huge lead in the NL voting for first base. There are better picks than him, but he's definitely having another All-Star-caliber year with a .981 OPS and 19 homers.

    Reserves

    Brandon Belt (SFG): Belt was showing well in the fan voting, a sign his long-awaited breakout year isn't going unnoticed. He has a .925 OPS and 10 homers, the former of which is terrific for a player who has to spend half his season at AT&T Park.

    Wil Myers (SDP): It's being wasted on a terrible team, but Myers is having a huge comeback year after two injury-marred seasons. With an .879 OPS, 18 homers, 11 steals and strong defense, he's cementing himself as one of baseball's most well-rounded first basemen.

    Notable Snub: Paul Goldschmidt (ARI)*

    *Not really, but that's a secret for now.

Second Basemen

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    Michael Thomas/Associated Press

    American League

    Starter

    Jose Altuve (HOU): Altuve was looming large (see what I did there?) in the voting for AL second basemen at last check, topping Robinson Cano by almost a million votes. Rightfully so, as he's leading the AL in batting average (.357), on-base percentage (.432), hits (111) and stolen bases (21). He's also already slugged 13 homers. He's many miles Altuves ahead of all other AL second basemen.

    Reserve

    Robinson Cano (SEA): Cano won't get the starting nod over Altuve, but he's going to be in San Diego one way or another. With a .908 OPS and 19 homers, he's replacing bad memories of his 2015 season with all sorts of good ones.

    Brian Dozier (MIN): Sorry, Ian Kinsler and Dustin Pedroia. Somebody has to represent the Minnesota Twins, and Dozier's the best choice. Thanks to a red-hot June, he now boasts a respectable .824 OPS and 13 dingers.

    Notable Snubs: Ian Kinsler (DET), Dustin Pedroia (BOS)

    National League

    Starter

    Ben Zobrist (CHC): The small voting advantage Zobrist had over Daniel Murphy got even smaller Wednesday. But with an excitable Chicago fanbase at his back, Zobrist should be able to hold on. And with an .881 OPS and 10 homers, he is indeed deserving of an All-Star nod.

    Reserve

    Daniel Murphy (WAS): Murphy may not get a starting gig, but he's going to be in San Diego regardless. He made his first All-Star team in 2014 and is now leading the NL in batting average (.351) and hits (104).

    Notable Snub: Jean Segura (ARI)

Third Basemen

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    Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

    American League

    Starter

    Manny Machado (BAL): Machado was ahead of Josh Donaldson by a couple hundred thousand votes in a recent update. That likely didn't evaporate before Thursday's deadline. Donaldson is having a terrific season, but Machado is keeping pace with a 1.001 OPS, 18 homers and his customary strong defense.

    Reserve

    Josh Donaldson (TOR): The reigning AL MVP has picked up where he left off, OPS'ing .977 with 19 home runs. He's also a sharp defender in his own right. There's no way he doesn't make it to San Diego.

    Notable Snub: Evan Longoria (TBR)

    National League

    Starter

    Kris Bryant (CHC): Nolan Arenado wasn't exactly in the distance, but the roughly 300,000-vote lead Bryant held on him as of Wednesday's update was probably too much to make up. There's also the fact that Bryant hasn't needed help from Coors Field to put up a .933 OPS and 22 homers. With the latter, he's tied for the NL lead.

    Reserves

    Nolan Arenado (COL): OK, that last part threw some not-so-subtle shade at Arenado's production. Let's make up for that by acknowledging that a .951 OPS and 21 homers are still damn impressive. The same goes for his work with the leather at the hot corner. Dude's definitely an All-Star.

    Matt Carpenter (STL): It shouldn't be possible to "quietly" put up an NL-best .999 OPS, but that's what Carpenter has done. It turns out his evolution into a slugger last year was no fluke, as 43 of his 79 hits this season have gone for extra bases.

    Notable Snub: Jake Lamb (ARI)

Shortstops

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    Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports

    American League

    Starter

    Xander Bogaerts (BOS): As of Monday's update, Bogaerts was leading Alcides Escobar by well over a million votes. He's earned those with a .342 average, an .884 OPS and nine home runs. Going back to last season, only he and Altuve have more than 300 hits.

    Reserve

    Francisco Lindor (CLE): Lindor was perhaps the biggest snub in our last set of predictions. Now's a good time to fix that. Lindor is having a terrific all-around season, posting an .824 OPS with 10 homers and 13 stolen bases on offense and continuing to dazzle on defense. He gets my vote as MLB's most overlooked star, but his first All-Star nod should help change that.

    Notable Snub: Carlos Correa (HOU)

    National League

    Starter

    Addison Russell (CHC): Trevor Story is the only hope to unseat Russell in the fan voting, but he was still trailing by almost 300,000 votes in Wednesday's update. Cubs fans should know Russell appreciates it.

    "The more that I'm here in this organization, I feel that more and more day in and day out," Russell said of the fans' enthusiasm, per Jesse Rogers of ESPN.com. "There's more Cubs fans than I could even imagine."

    Although Russell shouldn't be an All-Star, his spot on the team won't be a total loss. His bat is iffy, but his defense is nifty.

    Reserve

    Corey Seager (LAD): The fans may be going for Russell and Story, but Seager is arguably the best shortstop the NL has this year. The rookie is living up to his preseason billing as baseball's best prospect with an .899 OPS and 17 homers. By shortstop standards, that's outrageous production.

    Notable Snub: Brandon Crawford (SFG)

Outfielders

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    Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

    American League

    Starters

    Mike Trout (LAA): When you have a reputation as baseball's best player, getting more All-Star votes than other players at your position is going to happen. It also helps that Mike Trout is doing Mike Trout things, such as OPS'ing .995 with 17 homers and 11 stolen bases. He also did a Vladimir Guerrero thing recently, which should probably be against the rules.

    Jackie Bradley Jr. (BOS): JBJ was still leading Red Sox teammate Mookie Betts by about 250,000 votes as of Wednesday's update. That's a safe lead, and it's not entirely unearned. After showing signs of a breakout last year, Bradley has made good on the promise with a .942 OPS and 13 homers.

    Mookie Betts (BOS): Lorenzo Cain and Mark Trumbo were hot on Betts' heels as of the last update, but he should be able to hold on. Having the Boston fanbase behind him can't hurt. The same goes for his .828 OPS, 16 homers and 12 stolen bases. 

    Reserves

    Mark Trumbo (BAL): Even if Trumbo can't catch Betts, he should still get his second All-Star nod. His 23 home runs are tied for the MLB lead, and he has a rock-solid .889 OPS to go with it.

    Ian Desmond (TEX): The Rangers are more an amalgamation of good players than a team reliant on stars. But with a .893 OPS, 14 homers, 14 steals and a glove that's translated well to the outfield, Desmond has the distinction of being the best player on the AL's best team.

    Michael Saunders (TOR): There's a chance Cain will get onto the roster by Yost's graces. But Saunders is more deserving of a ticket to San Diego. With a .915 OPS and 15 homers, he's quietly been one of the American League's most productive outfielders.

    Notable Snub: Adam Eaton (CHW)

    National League

    Starters

    Dexter Fowler (CHC): None of the three leading vote-getters among NL outfielders were in danger of being toppled heading into the final stretch of the voting. That includes Fowler, who has an .881 OPS with seven homers and six steals. A hamstring injury has him on the disabled list, but the Cubs may not deny him his first All-Star appearance if he's good to go by July 12.

    Bryce Harper (WAS): Harper has had a hard time getting out of the rut he's been in since late April, but it's hard to blame the fans for wanting to see him in San Diego after what he did last year. Also, there's nothing wrong with the .896 OPS, 16 homers and 10 steals he has this year.

    Yoenis Cespedes (NYM): Cespedes hit like crazy in two months with the Mets last year. It's been more of the same this year. With a .919 OPS and 19 homers, he's one of the NL's most dangerous hitters. Looks the part, too.

    Reserves

    Gregory Polanco (PIT): Coming from a team that has surprisingly few obvious All-Stars, Polanco should get the nod as the best player to represent the Pittsburgh Pirates. He's broken out with an .892 OPS, 10 homers and nine steals, and he's a good right fielder to boot.

    Odubel Herrera (PHI): Somebody also has to represent the Philadelphia Phillies, and Herrera's just the guy. With an .820 OPS, eight homers and 11 steals, he's building on last year's solid breakout.

    Adam Duvall (CIN): In keeping with the broken-record theme we've got going here, somebody also has to represent the Cincinnati Reds. Duvall's 22 homers co-lead the National League. He'll do.

    Carlos Gonzalez (COL): There's room for a fourth reserve outfielder on the NL roster. Whether it happens via player support, manager selection or the final vote, Gonzalez is a good candidate to nab the honor. He has a .959 OPS and 18 homers, thereby continuing a hot stretch that dates back a year.

    Notable Snub: Marcell Ozuna (MIA)

Designated Hitters

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    Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

    American League

    Starter

    David Ortiz (BOS): This is a no-brainer on multiple levels. Big Papi has been miles ahead of the competition in the voting all along. With this also being his farewell season, he kinda has to be in San Diego on July 12.

    It helps that Ortiz is hitting .336 with 18 home runs and leading all of baseball in slugging percentage (.672) and OPS (1.103).

    Reserve

    Edwin Encarnacion (TOR): Nelson Cruz looked like a safe choice for the AL's second All-Star DH a couple of weeks ago. But then Encarnacion went on one of his patented hot streaks. He crushed 11 homers in June and has an .893 OPS and 21 homers overall. Here's thinking that will help him beat out Cruz for an All-Star spot, even though the "Boomstick" has been at least as good.

    Notable Snub: Nelson Cruz (SEA)

    National League

    Starter

    Paul Goldschmidt (ARI): With a .940 OPS, 14 homers and 10 stolen bases, Goldschmidt is once again doing his usual thing. He's by far the best choice to represent the Arizona Diamondbacks, and he'll be the best choice among the NL's reserves to serve as the team's DH.

Starting Pitchers

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    American League

    Starter

    Chris Sale (CHW): Sale isn't an obvious choice to toe the rubber for the AL All-Stars, but he's the safest. His 13-2 record is a shiny object, and he also boasts a 2.79 ERA and an AL-high 113 innings. With these numbers, he's adding to a career track record that's getting to be downright intimidating.

    Also important is the fact Sale isn't slated to start the weekend before the All-Star break. He'll be good to go.

    Reserves

    Steven Wright (BOS), Danny Salazar (CLE), Cole Hamels (TEX), Marco Estrada (TOR), Jose Quintana (CHW)

    Along with Sale, Wright, Salazar, Hamels and Estrada make up the top five of the American League's ERA leaderboard. Another fun fact is that Estrada currently has the second-lowest batting average against in MLB history, behind only Pedro Martinez in 2000. "Because baseball" is the proper explanation there.

    It's a tough call for which starter is the best choice to join these five on the AL roster, but Quintana is a good guy to go out on a limb with. He has a 3.18 ERA in 104.2 innings, and he's overdue for an All-Star nod by now.

    Notable Snub: Corey Kluber (CLE)

    National League

    Starter

    Madison Bumgarner (SFG): It should have been you, Clayton Kershaw. But darn it, you had to go and develop a bad back.

    Oh well. Bumgarner is a great fallback option. His 2.20 ERA ranks in the top five of the National League. With 114.2 innings also in the bag, Bumgarner is on track for his fourth straight season with over 200 innings and an ERA under 3.00. He's earned an All-Star start. And because he's not starting the weekend before the break, he'll be able to make it.

    Reserves

    Johnny Cueto (SFG), Jake Arrieta (CHC), Jon Lester (CHC), Jose Fernandez (MIA), Noah Syndergaard (NYM), Julio Teheran (ATL)

    Everyone here ranks in the top eight in the National League in ERA. Fernandez also has the distinction of leading baseball in strikeout rate, racking up 13.1 strikeouts per nine innings.

    Not to be overlooked is Teheran. Exactly who should represent the Braves was a tough call a couple of weeks ago. But with a 1.72 ERA over his last 13 starts, Teheran's hot streak has destroyed the question.

    Notable Snub: Stephen Strasburg (WAS)

Relief Pitchers

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    American League

    Dellin Betances (NYY), Andrew Miller (NYY), Zach Britton (BAL), Will Harris (HOU), Wade Davis (KCR), Alex Colome (TBR), Brad Brach (BAL)

    Miller and Betances are both striking out over 16 batters per nine innings, so they're easy picks. Britton's AL-leading 23 saves and 0.81 ERA make him another easy pick. Ditto Will Harris and his 0.78 ERA. With a 1.23 ERA and 19 saves, Davis is continuing a three-year run of Independence Day-level devastation.

    Otherwise, Colome's 19 saves and 1.76 ERA make him a good pick to represent the Rays. Yost should also appreciate a strong and dependable reliever like Brach, who holds a 1.04 ERA over 43.1 innings.

    Notable Snub: Craig Kimbrel (BOS)

    National League

    Jeurys Familia (NYM), Kenley Jansen (LAD), A.J. Ramos (MIA), Fernando Rodney (MIA), Hector Rondon (CHC), Seung Hwan Oh (STL)

    Because people still care about saves, Familia's league-leading 27 saves should get him in despite unspectacular numbers elsewhere. Luckily, that not-so-subtle gripe doesn't apply to Jansen and Ramos, who have high save totals and sub-2.00 ERAs.

    Elsewhere, Rodney boasts a sterling 0.31 ERA, Oh has superb numbers across the board and Rondon has an absurdly good 11.7 strikeout-to-walk ratio. This is a bullpen fit for an All-Star Game.

    Notable Snub: Pedro Strop (CHC)

    Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted/linked.