2021 MLB All-Star Game Roster Picks 1 Month Out
Who's ready to talk MLB All-Star Game rosters?
On May 8, I published my "Way-Too-Early MLB All-Star Game Picks." A lot has changed since then, so it's time for an updated look at where things stand less than a month out from this year's Midsummer Classic.
Using the 32-player roster format that was implemented in 2018, we assembled our American League and National League teams based solely on 2021 performances. Voting trends are referenced in the article, but did not factor into the selections. We simply picked the 32 players who are most deserving while sticking to the rule of including at least one player from every team.
For consistency, each roster was made up of 20 position players and 12 pitchers, with at least one backup for each position.
We also highlighted the biggest projected snubs from each league, since the players who don't get selected are often a bigger story than the ones who do.
Off we go!
American League Starting Lineup
1. 2B Marcus Semien, TOR
2. DH Shohei Ohtani, LAA
3. 1B Vladimir Guerrero Jr., TOR
4. RF Aaron Judge, NYY
5. 3B Jose Ramirez, CLE
6. SS Xander Bogaerts, BOS
7. LF Kyle Tucker, HOU
8. C Salvador Perez, KC
9. CF Cedric Mullins, BAL
SP Lance Lynn
The first round of voting results mirrors our picks of Salvador Perez, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Marcus Semien, Xander Bogaerts, Aaron Judge and Shohei Ohtani for a starting spot in the American League lineup. All six of those players are having fantastic seasons that should assure them a spot on the AL roster, even if the fan voting changes course in the coming weeks.
Outfielders Mike Trout and Byron Buxton are both on pace to earn a starting spot, despite missing significant time to injury, and if they are unable to play that will open up two spots to fill based on merit.
Speedy center fielder Cedric Mullins is hitting .320/.391/.522 with an AL-leading 81 hits, 30 extra-base hits and 12 steals for a rebuilding Baltimore Orioles team, and he's an easy choice to fill one of the outfield spots.
The other goes to Houston Astros rising star Kyle Tucker. The 24-year-old has a 127 OPS+ with 30 extra-base hits and 43 RBI in 64 games, and he has also provided significant value defensively with terrific metrics (7 DRS, 9.0 UZR/150) in right field.
The toughest decision here was third base, where Cleveland star Jose Ramirez (140 OPS+, 15 HR, 41 RBI) narrowly edges out Rafael Devers and Yoan Moncada for the starting gig. More on those two in a bit.
Veteran Lance Lynn gets the start on the mound with an AL-leading 1.51 ERA in 71.2 innings in his first season with the Chicago White Sox. The 34-year-old earned one other All-Star selection back in 2012 in his first full season in the majors.
American League Reserves (Position Players)
C Yasmani Grandal, CWS
1B Yuli Gurriel, HOU
1B Matt Olson, OAK
2B Jose Altuve, HOU
3B Rafael Devers, BOS
3B Yoan Moncada, CWS
SS Carlos Correa, HOU
y-OF Michael Brantley, HOU
x-OF Byron Buxton, MIN
y-OF Mark Canha, OAK
OF Mitch Haniger, SEA
x-OF Mike Trout, LAA
DH J.D. Martinez, BOS
x=injured; y=injury replacement
Despite an ugly .152 batting average, Yasmani Grandal gets a spot in a thin field of AL catchers thanks to an AL-leading 53 walks and a .387 on-base percentage. He only has 21 hits—10 of which are home runs—yet he has still managed to post a 119 OPS+ on the year.
The corner infield spots are loaded, with Matt Olson (175 OPS+, .378 OBP, 18 HR) and Yuli Gurriel (150 OPS+, .317 BA, 27 XBH) at first base and Rafael Devers (145 OPS+, 20 2B, 16 HR) and Yoan Moncada (129 OPS+, .402 OBP, 2.5 WAR) at third base all easy picks for a spot among the AL reserves.
The Houston Astros middle infield tandem of Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa rounds out the reserve infielders, and they are joined by sweet-swinging teammate Michael Brantley. The glut of corner infielders made for several snubs at the middle infield spots, including Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Bo Bichette, but it's hard to exclude Correa who has a 146 OPS+ with 28 extra-base hits and 3.2 WAR.
Mitch Haniger is the lone representative for the Seattle Mariners, but a deserving one with a 131 OPS+ and 15 doubles, 16 home runs and 40 RBI.
The injured duo of Mike Trout and Byron Buxton deserves All-Star recognition for their red-hot start to the year, but they'll likely need to be replaced on the roster. One of those spots goes to the aforementioned Brantley, while the other belongs to Mark Canha, who sports a .374 on-base percentage with 51 runs scored serving as the leadoff hitter in Oakland.
There are several worthy designated hitters, but J.D. Martinez stands out from the pack with a .309/.370/.545 line that includes 17 doubles, 13 home runs and 41 RBI.
American League Reserves (Pitchers)
SP Chris Bassitt, OAK
y-SP Jose Berrios, MIN
x-SP Shane Bieber, CLE
SP Gerrit Cole, NYY
SP Kyle Gibson, TEX
x-SP Tyler Glasnow, TB
SP Sean Manaea, OAK
SP John Means, BAL
SP Casey Mize, DET
SP Carlos Rodon, CWS
y-RP Diego Castillo, TB
RP Aroldis Chapman, NYY
RP Emmanuel Clase, CLE
RP Liam Hendriks, CWS
x=injured; y=injury replacement
The no-brainers among AL starters are Gerrit Cole (2.31 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, 89.2 IP), Kyle Gibson (2.09 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 77.2 IP) and Carlos Rodon (1.89 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, 66.2 IP). Teammates Chris Bassitt (3.43 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 86.2 IP) and Sean Manaea (2.99 ERA, 2 SHO, 81.1 IP) are on the fringe of that conversation as well.
Orioles ace John Means has begun a throwing program and should return to action in time to solidify his spot on the AL roster. The left-hander has a 2.28 ERA and AL-best 0.83 WHIP in 71 innings and he threw a no-hitter earlier this year.
However, Tyler Glasnow (partially torn UCL) and Shane Bieber (shoulder strain) are unlikely to be ready in time, so they were recognized here and then replaced on the roster.
Replacing Glasnow with teammate Diego Castillo assures that the first-place Rays have a representative who can actually take the field, while Jose Berrios does the same for the Twins whose only other representative would be an injured Byron Buxton. With a 3.49 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 81 strikeouts in 77.1 innings, Berrios is more than deserving.
Someone has to make it from the Tigers, so rookie Casey Mize (3.49 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 77.1 IP) is the pick over an injured Spencer Turnbull.
Aroldis Chapman has struck out 45 of the 100 batters he has faced this year with 14 saves and a 1.78 ERA, Emmanuel Clase has 11 saves and a 0.94 ERA with 32 strikeouts in 28.2 innings anchoring the Cleveland bullpen, and Liam Hendriks has rebounded from a rocky start to nail down 18 of 21 save chances with a 2.15 ERA and a 46-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 29.1 innings.
Biggest Projected AL Snubs
Biggest Projected AL Snubs
1. SS Isiah Kiner-Falefa, TEX
2. 1B Jared Walsh, LAA
3. SS Bo Bichette, TOR
4. 3B Joey Wendle, TB
5. SP Aaron Civale, CLE
6. OF Adolis Garcia, TEX
7. SP Robbie Ray, TOR
8. DH Yordan Alvarez, HOU
9. 1B Trey Mancini, BAL
10. DH Nelson Cruz, MIN
11. RP Scott Barlow, KC
12. DH Austin Meadows, TB
13. RP Matt Barnes, BOS
14. RP James Karinchak, CLE
15. SP Luis Garcia, HOU
American League Team-by-Team Breakdown
BAL (2): CF Cedric Mullins, SP John Means
BOS (3): 3B Rafael Devers, SS Xander Bogaerts, DH J.D. Martinez
CWS (5): C Yasmani Grandal, 3B Yoan Moncada, SP Lance Lynn, SP Carlos Rodon, RP Liam Hendriks
CLE (3): 3B Jose Ramirez, RP Emmanuel Clase, x-SP Shane Bieber
DET (1): SP Casey Mize
HOU (5): 1B Yuli Gurriel, 2B Jose Altuve, SS Carlos Correa, OF Kyle Tucker, y-OF Michael Brantley
KC (1): C Salvador Perez
LAA (2): DH/SP Shohei Ohtani, x-OF Mike Trout
MIN (2): y-SP Jose Berrios, x-OF Byron Buxton
NYY (3): OF Aaron Judge, SP Gerrit Cole, RP Aroldis Chapman
OAK (4): 1B Matt Olson, SP Chris Bassitt, SP Sean Manaea, y-OF Mark Canha
SEA (1): OF Mitch Haniger
TB (2): x-SP Tyler Glasnow, y-RP Diego Castillo
TEX (1): SP Kyle Gibson
TOR (2): 1B Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 2B Marcus Semien
National League Starting Lineup
1. CF Ronald Acuna Jr., ATL
2. DH Juan Soto, WAS
3. SS Fernando Tatis Jr., SD
4. RF Nick Castellanos, CIN
5. 1B Max Muncy, LAD
6. 3B Kris Bryant, CHC
7. LF Jesse Winker, CIN
8. C Buster Posey, SF
9. 2B Adam Frazier, PIT
SP Jacob deGrom, NYM
I'm in agreement with the early voting returns that show Buster Posey, Max Muncy, Fernando Tatis Jr., Kris Bryant, Ronald Acuna Jr., Nick Castellanos and Jesse Winker on track to start for the National League side.
From that group, Posey, Muncy, Tatis Jr., Bryant, Acuna Jr. and Castellanos all have significant voting leads, and rightfully so, as they would all likely finish in the top 10 in NL MVP voting if the season ended today.
That leaves just second base worth a deeper dive, along with the designated hitter and starting pitcher spots which will be chosen by NL manager Dave Roberts.
The current voting leader at second base is Ozzie Albies, and while he's having a solid season, there are multiple players at that position who are more deserving.
Adam Frazier sits atop that list. He's not receiving much national attention playing for a last-place Pittsburgh Pirates team, but he's hitting .324/.386/.458 with 85 hits in 66 games and an NL-leading 23 doubles.
There are a handful of players worthy of filling the DH spot, but the opportunity to slot Juan Soto in between Acuna and Tatis Jr. at the top of the NL batting order is too good to pass up. With a 134 OPS+ and more walks (40) than strikeouts (35), he is more than deserving of his first All-Star nod.
The only real question is whether Jacob deGrom will be healthy and rested to make the start on the mound. If he's not, Brandon Woodruff and Kevin Gausman are next in line.
National League Reserves (Position Players)
C Carson Kelly, ARI
1B Anthony Rizzo, CHC
2B Jean Segura, PHI
2B/3B Ryan McMahon, COL
3B Austin Riley, ATL
3B Justin Turner, LAD
SS Brandon Crawford, SF
SS Trea Turner, WAS
IF/OF Chris Taylor, LAD
OF Mookie Betts, LAD
OF Tyler O'Neill, STL
There are a handful of catchers who are probably more deserving than Carson Kelly (139 OPS+, 14 XBH), given the fact that he has missed some time to injury this year, but the Arizona Diamondbacks need a representative, and he's one of the only worthy candidates.
First base is going to be a point of contention with three-time All-Star Anthony Rizzo (127 OPS+, 23 XBH, 1.6 WAR) edging out NL RBI leader Jesus Aguilar (125 OPS+, 49 RBI, 1.2 WAR, as well as Freddie Freeman, Pete Alonso and Rhys Hoskins. At second base, Jean Segura has put together a strong case for his third career All-Star selection.
The left side of the infield is crowded. Brandon Crawford (139 OPS+, 15 HR, 44 RBI) and Trea Turner (130 OPS+, 22 XBH, 13 SB) are both worthy of spots at shortstop, while Austin Riley (132 OPS+, 12 HR, 31 RBI) and Justin Turner (137 OPS+, 12 HR, 34 RBI) stand out at the hot corner.
It's a bummer the host Colorado Rockies don't have more All-Star worthy talent, but Ryan McMahon (115 OPS+, 16 HR, 43 RBI) is their only pick. Unless Austin Gomber finds his way onto the pitching staff, there are really no other viable candidates.
There's still a good chance Mookie Betts will wind up in the starting lineup, as he was in fourth in the fan voting by a narrow margin. His offensive numbers have not been up to his usual standards, but he still ranks seventh in the NL with 2.8 WAR.
The versatile Chris Taylor is having a career year with a .385 on-base percentage and 50 runs scored, and he's likely to be rewarded with a spot by manager Dave Roberts. That could mean the final NL outfield spot comes down to NL Central rising stars Tyler O'Neill (162 OPS+, 15 HR, 2.3 WAR) and Bryan Reynolds (148 OPS+, 29 XBH, 2.6 WAR), with O'Neill holding a slight edge.
National League Reserves (Pitchers)
SP Trevor Bauer, LAD
SP Walker Buehler, LAD
SP Corbin Burnes, MIL
SP Kevin Gausman, SF
SP Trevor Rogers, MIA
SP Max Scherzer, WAS
SP Zack Wheeler, PHI
SP Brandon Woodruff, MIL
RP Josh Hader, MIL
RP Craig Kimbrel, CHC
RP Alex Reyes, STL
Jacob deGrom was forced to leave his most recent start with shoulder soreness, and if he's not able to make the start, Brandon Woodruff (1.52 ERA, 0.72 WHIP, 83.0 IP) and Kevin Gausman (1.43 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, 81.2 IP) are the leading candidates to take his place.
Not far behind, fellow NL East aces Zack Wheeler (2.15 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 96.1 IP) and Max Scherzer (2.21 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 77.1 IP) also appear to be a shoo-in for a spot on the NL staff, and the same goes for Woodruff's teammate Corbin Burnes (2.27 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, 63.1 IP) despite the fact that he has missed some time.
The Marlins need a representative, and NL Rookie of the Year front-runner Trevor Rogers (1.98 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 81.2 IP) is an easy pick. The 23-year-old southpaw is living up to being the No. 13 overall pick in the 2017 draft.
The Dodgers have four starters with a case for a spot on the team. Walker Buehler (2.38 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 83.1 IP) and Trevor Bauer (2.64 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 88.2 IP) get the nod, but it will be worth keeping an eye on how their rotation lines up heading into the break.
The NL staff could easily consist of 12 starters, with a number of worthy candidates left off this projected roster, but there are also several relievers putting up stellar numbers.
Josh Hader has converted all 17 of his save chances with a 0.65 ERA and 15.6 K/9, Alex Reyes has pitched around 29 walks in 33 innings to post a 0.82 ERA with 17 saves of his own, and Craig Kimbrel has returned to elite form for the North Siders with 18 saves in 20 chances and a 0.66 ERA, 0.70 WHIP and 14.8 K/9.
Biggest Projected NL Snubs
Biggest Projected NL Snubs
1. OF Bryan Reynolds, PIT
2. SP Freddy Peralta, MIL
3. SP Yu Darvish, SD
4. SP Joe Musgrove, SD
5. SP Taijuan Walker, NYM
6. 3B Nolan Arenado, STL
7. RP Tejay Antone, CIN
8. SP Marcus Stroman, NYM
9. SP Clayton Kershaw, LAD
10. RP Mark Melancon, SD
11. SP Julio Urias, LAD
12. 1B Jesus Aguilar, MIA
13. RP Tyler Rogers, SF
14. SP Sandy Alcantara, MIA
15. SP Anthony DeSclafani, SF
National League Team-by-Team Breakdown
ARI (1): C Carson Kelly
ATL (2): 3B Austin Riley, OF Ronald Acuna Jr.
CHC (3): 1B Anthony Rizzo, 3B Kris Bryant, RP Craig Kimbrel
CIN (2): OF Nick Castellanos, OF Jesse Winker
COL (1): 2B/3B Ryan McMahon
LAD (6): 1B Max Muncy, 3B Justin Turner, IF/OF Chris Taylor, OF Mookie Betts, SP Trevor Bauer, SP Walker Buehler,
MIA (1): SP Trevor Rogers
MIL (3): SP Corbin Burnes, SP Brandon Woodruff, RP Josh Hader
NYM (1): SP Jacob deGrom
PHI (2): 2B Jean Segura, SP Zack Wheeler
PIT (1): 2B Adam Frazier
SD (1): SS Fernando Tatis Jr.
SF (3): C Buster Posey, SS Brandon Crawford, SP Kevin Gausman
STL (2): OF Tyler O'Neill, RP Alex Reyes
WAS (3): SS Trea Turner, OF Juan Soto, SP Max Scherzer