Bleacher Report's Complete AL, NL All-Star Teams Predictions
The 2017 MLB All-Star Game, set for July 11 in Miami, is less than three weeks away. Hot streaks, cold spells, injuries and voting surges could still tip the balance on both the National League and American League rosters, but we're close enough to the Midsummer Classic to make educated predictions.
The benches and pitching staffs involve more guesswork, including deducing the whims of the players' vote and managers Terry Francona and Joe Maddon, who will helm the AL and NL squads, respectively.
If you want to vote prior to the June 29 deadline, here's the place to do it.
National League Starters
C Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants (.341 AVG., .949 OPS, 9 HR)
1B Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals (.347 AVG., 1.048 OPS, 19 HR)
2B Daniel Murphy, Washington Nationals (.346 AVG., .974 OPS, 12 HR)
SS Zack Cozart, Cincinnati Reds (.320 AVG., .966 OPS, 9 HR)
3B Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs (.260 AVG., .904 OPS, 15 HR)
LF Marcell Ozuna, Miami Marlins (.330 AVG., .988 OPS, 19 HR)
CF Charlie Blackmon, Colorado Rockies (.327 AVG., .981 OPS, 15 HR)
RF Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals (.315 AVG., 1.027 OPS, 18 HR)
DH Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks (.324 AVG., 1.048 OPS, 17 HR)
The Washington Nationals will be well-represented, with three players in line to start.
Right fielder Bryce Harper leads the entire field with 2,827,330 votes. First baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who paces the Senior Circuit in OPS, and second baseman Daniel Murphy are also leading at their respective positions.
Catcher Buster Posey, who is challenging for a second career batting title, has been one of the few bright spots for the San Francisco Giants and may be their lone All-Star.
The Cincinnati Reds' Zack Cozart leads in the voting at shortstop by more than 300,000 votes, but he landed on the 10-day disabled list Monday with a strained quad. The Reds hope he can return when those 10 days are up, per C. Trent Rosencranz of the Cincinnati Enquirer. If he doesn't, Corey Seager of the Los Angeles Dodgers is the best bet to take his spot.
At third base, the Chicago Cubs' Kris Bryant has an edge of more than 300,000 votes over the Colorado Rockies' Nolan Arenado, despite Arenado's superior average (.299 to .259) and OPS (.925 to .905). Another Rockies player, center fielder Charlie Blackmon, is on track to start.
The final outfield spot currently belongs to the Cubs' Jason Heyward, but the Maimi Marlins' Marcell Ozuna has been trending upward and is now in fifth place, slightly more than 100,000 votes behind Heyward. It says here Marlins fans will rock the vote and allow Ozuna to start on his home field.
The NL designated hitter is selected by the manager, so we don't have any data to go on. But it will be tough for Maddon to ignore the Arizona Diamondbacks' Paul Goldschmidt, who is putting together an MVP-caliber season in the desert.
National League Pitchers
RHP Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals (2.26 ERA, 99.2 IP, 134 SO)
RHP Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals (3.28 ERA, 90.2 IP, 104 SO)
LHP Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers (2.61 ERA, 103.1 IP, 115 SO)
RHP Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers (0.91 ERA, 29.2 IP, 50 SO, 15 SV)
RHP Carlos Martinez, St. Louis Cardinals (2.86 ERA, 94.1 IP, 107 SO)
LHP Robbie Ray, Arizona Diamondbacks (2.87 ERA, 87.2 IP, 114 SO)
RHP Zack Greinke, Arizona Diamondbacks (3.14 ERA, 97.1 IP, 111 SO)
RHP Jimmy Nelson, Milwaukee Brewers (3.28 ERA, 85 IP, 85 SO)
RHP Jacob deGrom, New York Mets (3.94 ERA, 89 IP, 106 SO)
RHP Greg Holland, Colorado Rockies (1.63 ERA, 27.2 IP, 36 SO, 25 SV)
RHP Wade Davis, Chicago Cubs (1.48 ERA, 24.1 IP, 34 SO, 14 SV)
LHP Brad Hand, San Diego Padres (2.82 ERA, 38.1 IP, 48 SO)
RHP Pat Neshek, Philadelphia Phillies (0.64 ERA, 28 IP, 25 SO)
The All-Star starter is often picked based on schedule as much as stats, since pitchers who throw too soon before the game are ineligible. The Nats' Max Scherzer is probably the leader in the clubhouse, though cases can be made for the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw, the Cardinals' Carlos Martinez and even the Brewers' Jimmy Nelson, among others.
The NL team could feature a dominant trio of closers in L.A.'s Kenley Jansen and former Kansas City Royals teammates Greg Holland and Wade Davis, now with the Rockies and Cubs, respectively.
Finally, while Brad Hand and Pat Neshek are having nice seasons, they're here mostly because the lowly San Diego Padres and Philadelphia Phillies need at least one All-Star Game representative.
National League Position Players
C Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals (.261 AVG., .719 OPS, 9 HR)
C JT Realmuto, Miami Marlins (.288 AVG., .800 OPS, 6 HR)
1B Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds (.307 AVG., 1.017 OPS, 20 HR)
1B Eric Thames, Milwaukee Brewers (.254 AVG., .970 OPS, 20 HR)
2B Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs (.249 AVG., .749 OPS, 10 HR)
2B Josh Harrison, Pittsburgh Pirates (.293 AVG., .818 OPS, 8 HR)
SS Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers (.283 AVG., .853 OPS, 9 HR)
3B Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies (.302 AVG., .932 OPS, 15 HR)
OF Matt Kemp, Atlanta Braves (.322 AVG., .912 OPS, 11 HR)
OF Jay Bruce, New York Mets (.274 AVG., .896 OPS, 19 HR)
OF Cody Bellinger, Los Angeles Dodgers (.270 AVG., 1.010 OPS, 22 HR)
All-Star benches are notoriously difficult to predict, as they're chosen by a combination of player and fan voting and manager selections.
Some of the names above—such as Arenado and St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina—are virtual shoo-ins based on performance and pedigree. Others—such as Marlins catcher JT Realmuto and Cubs infielder Javier Baez—are best guesses based on the venue (Realmuto) and the skipper (Baez).
Two more interesting names: Eric Thames of the Milwaukee Brewers and Cody Bellinger of the Los Angeles Dodgers, both of whom have burst on the scene with big-time power. Thames has the cool backstory of finding his stroke overseas in Korea, and he could be rewarded for playing on a surprise contender.
As for Bellinger, rookies often have to wait their turn when it comes to the All-Star Game. However, his gaudy home run total (21 heading into Tuesday) might be too impressive to snub.
American League Starters
C Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals (.283 AVG., .828 OPS, 14 HR)
1B Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers (.272 AVG., .817 OPS, 7 HR)
2B Jose Altuve, Houston Astros (.326 AVG., .925 OPS, 10 HR)
SS Carlos Correa, Houston Astros (.300 AVG., .893 OPS, 13 HR)
3B Miguel Sano, Minnesota Twins (.290 AVG., .959 OPS, 17 HR)
LF George Springer, Houston Astros (.284 AVG., .918 OPS, 20 HR)
CF Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels (.337 AVG., 1.203 OPS, 16 HR)
RF Aaron Judge, New York Yankees (.333 AVG., 1.147 OPS, 24 HR)
DH Nelson Cruz, Seattle Mariners (.288 AVG., .886 OPS, 14 HR)
Aaron Judge has slugged his way to the head of the AL voting pack, and we're crossing our fingers and toes he participates in the Home Run Derby.
Reigning AL MVP Mike Trout could join the Yanks masher in the outfield, provided he returns from left thumb surgery. Trout says he hopes to be back in time, per ESPN.com, and who are we to doubt him?
The Junior Circuit starting lineup could also feature a trio of Houston Astros. Second baseman Jose Altuve is a safe pick at second base, while shortstop Carlos Correa (1,658,255 votes) holds a lead over the Cleveland Indians' Francisco Lindor (1,300,013 votes). George Springer (1,176,951 votes) is in third place among outfielders, ahead of the Indians' Michael Brantley (1,001,254 votes).
Despite a sub-.500 record, the Royals have two players leading in the voting at their positions: catcher Salvador Perez and first baseman Eric Hosmer.
Perez is a lock behind the plate, but Hosmer (936,734 votes) should be supplanted by the Oakland Athletics' Yonder Alonso (887,645 votes) on stats or the Detroit Tigers' Miguel Cabrera (831,289 votes) on legacy. We'll pick Cabrera.
At third base, Miguel Sano is breaking out for the surprising Minnesota Twins, while the Seattle Mariners' Nelson Cruz leads the balloting at DH.
American League Pitchers
LHP Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox (2.85 ERA, 107.1 IP, 146 SO)
RHP Craig Kimbrel, Boston Red Sox (0.85 ERA, 31.2 IP, 59 SO, 20 SV)
LHP Dallas Keuchel, Houston Astros (1.67 ERA, 75.2 IP, 69 SO)
RHP Lance McCullers, Houston Astros (2.58 ERA, 76.2 IP, 89 SO)
RHP Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians (3.58 ERA, 65.1 IP, 80 SO)
RHP Chris Archer, Tampa Bay Rays (3.75 ERA, 98.1 IP, 122 SO)
RHP Alex Colome, Tampa Bay Rays (2.43 ERA, 33.1 IP, 31 SO, 20 SV)
LHP Jason Vargas, Kansas City Royals (2.27 ERA, 87.1 IP, 68 SO)
RHP Luis Severino, New York Yankees (2.99 ERA, 81.1 IP, 90 SO)
RHP Dellin Betances, New York Yankees (0.42 ERA, 21.2 IP, 41 SO, 6 SV)
RHP Michael Fulmer, Detroit Tigers (3.45 ERA, 86 IP, 63 SO)
RHP Ervin Santana, Minnesota Twins (2.97 ERA, 100 IP, 74 SO)
RHP Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers (3.35 ERA, 94 IP, 99 SO)
RHP Marcus Stroman, Toronto Blue Jays (3.15 ERA, 88.2 IP, 71 SO)
Assuming the scheduling lines up, Chris Sale is a strong favorite to start the game behind his 2.82 ERA and MLB-leading 136 strikeouts.
The Astros could add to their All-Star haul by sending both left-hander Dallas Keuchel and righty Lance McCullers. That's contingent on Keuchel (neck) and McCullers (back) returning from the disabled list and remaining healthy. Since one or both may not play due to health, we're including an extra pitcher.
The Royals' Jason Vargas should be rewarded for his out-of-nowhere excellent season, as should resurgent Twins right-hander Ervin Santana, who made his only All-Star team in 2008. However, either could be snubbed.
Like the NL squad, the team could feature a troika of shutdown ninth-inning arms in Boston's Craig Kimbrel, New York's Dellin Betances and the Tampa Bay Rays' Alex Colome.
American League Position Players
C Brian McCann, Houston Astros (.277 AVG., .860 OPS, 10 HR)
C Gary Sanchez, New York Yankees (.288 AVG., .929 OPS, 12 HR)
1B Yonder Alonso, Oakland Athletics (.301 AVG., 1.016 OPS, 17 HR)
2B Starlin Castro, New York Yankees (.322 AVG., .867 OPS, 12 HR)
INF Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians (.320 AVG., .935 OPS, 11 HR)
SS Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians (.254 AVG., .799 OPS, 13 HR)
3B Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles (.227 AVG., .753 OPS, 15 HR)
OF Avisail Garcia, Chicago White Sox (.339 AVG., .934 OPS, 11 HR)
OF Aaron Hicks, New York Yankees (.302 AVG., .964 OPS, 10 HR)
OF Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox (.272 AVG., .835 OPS, 12 HR)
OF/DH Corey Dickerson, Tampa Bay Rays (.327 AVG., .952 OPS, 16 HR)
Yes, this team is going to feature a ton of Yankees and Astros.
Adding catchers Brian McCann and Gary Sanchez, second baseman Starlin Castro and outfielder Aaron Hicks brings New York's All-Star total to five players and Houston's to six. Seeing as they're the two best teams in the American League, they've earned it.
Elsewhere, the Rays' Corey Dickerson deserves a spot after a monstrous start, as does Avisail Garcia, who would be the Chicago White Sox's only rep.
The final outfield spot could go to any number of players, but Mookie Betts gets the edge because of Boston's high national visibility and the memory of his huge 2016 season.
Speaking of guys skating on good memories, Manny Machado is hitting a scant .227 for the Baltimore Orioles. But can a player with his star wattage really be kept off the roster in favor of a lesser-known name like, say, Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Justin Smoak or Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop?