Whether it is the Pro Bowl, NBA or MLB All-Star Game, millions of fans go online and vote their favorite players into the starting spots. Major League Baseball’s summer showcase, however, has a lot more at stake than just pride. Whichever league wins the All-Star Game gets home field advantage in the World Series. Now there is a lot I could say about that (and a lot that I will when it gets a little bit closer), but here is the first installment of a guide to voting for the starters to ensure that your league comes out on top.
It has been a pretty rough year for catchers in the AL this year to the point where there are only two viable candidates. Brian McCann and Salvador Perez are the only two that don’t make you uneasy when you look at their stat lines. In this case, Perez is the better defensive catcher and probably squeaks right past McCann.
Vote for: Salvador Perez
Keep an eye on: Brian McCann, Yan Gomes
Unlike catchers, there is a strong crowd of American League first basemen to choose from. Miguel Cabrera is returning to his dominate form after a down season; Eric Hosmer is showing why he is one of the best first basemen in the game; and, Chris Davis continues to blast home runs for the Orioles. You really can’t go wrong here in the AL
Vote for: Eric Hosmer or Miguel Cabrera
Keep an eye on: Chris Davis, Trevor White
Unlike previous years, there is a huge crowd of talented second basemen in 2016. Jose Altuve and Robinson Cano are both having MVP-caliber seasons and have separated themselves from the rest of the pack. Ian Kinsler is also off to one of the best starts in his career while consistent contributors Dustin Pedroia and Jason Kipnis continue to add value.
Vote for: Jose Altuve
Keep an eye on: Robinson Cano, Ian Kinsler, Jason Kipnis
This is one of the most exciting races in the All-Star voting this year, because it features three future superstars early in their career. Xander Bogaerts, Francisco Lindor and Carlos Correa are all worthy of starting, but only one of them can. At the end of the day, I would be able to narrow it down to Bogaerts and Lindor because both of their teams are off to great starts this year, but with players like Correa don’t count out a late resurgence by Houston.
Vote for: Francisco Lindor or Xander Bogaerts
Keep an eye on: Carlos Correa, Troy Tulowitzki
The American League is going to have a strong starting infield regardless of who is selected. Last season’s MVP Josh Donaldson may not even be starting in the All-Star Game because he is surrounded by steep competition, primarily by Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado. Nick Castellanos and Danny Valencia are both having breakout seasons for Detroit and Oakland. Frequent All-Stars Adrian Beltre and Todd Frazier have also put themselves in the mix for an appearance.
Vote for: Manny Machado
Keep an eye on: Josh Donaldson, Adrian Beltre, Nick Castellanos
There really is only one clear pick for the DH and that is David Ortiz. It is so fitting that he is the heavy favorite to win the position not just because it is his last season, but because he has earned it. Yes, Nelson Cruz and Victor Martinez are having good seasons, but this one is pretty cut-and-dry: vote for Ortiz!
Outfield (pick 3):
Picking outfielders is always so difficult because there are (literally) over 40 candidates to choose from. I would say that Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mike Trout are the only two “locks” that have to be in. Mark Trumbo is close to being a lock for the third spot, but he needs to continue to keep his numbers up for a few more weeks.
Vote for: Jackie Bradley Jr., Mike Trout, Mark Trumbo
Keep an eye on: Khris Davis, Steven Souza Jr., Michael Saunders
Unlike its American League counterpart, the National League is filled with strong catchers. Jonathan Lucroy, Yadier Molina and Wellington Castillo are all having fantastic seasons. Buster Posey may not have the stats of his MVP season, but he has been a strong leader for the San Francisco clubhouse and has done a fantastic job on defense.
Vote for: Jonathan Lucroy
Keep an eye on: Wellington Castillo, Yadier Molina
Chris Carter and Anthony Rizzo are leading the way in the power department among NL first basemen. Give credit to Freddie Freeman though for being able to put up the numbers he has been while being surrounded by almost no supporting players this year as Atlanta is on pace to have one of the worst seasons in MLB history.
Vote for: Anthony Rizzo
Keep an eye on: Chris Carter, Freddie Freeman, Brandon Belt
Like the AL designated hitter, there is no competition for second base outside of the favorite. David Murphy of the Washington Nationals is blowing everybody away with how good he has been this season. Nationals’ fans have been yelling “Murph” this season more than the entire cast of Interstellar (http://bit.ly/1qiWxxs). There really is no alternative here.
Vote for: David Murphy
Keep an eye on: Neil Walker
This is where I have trouble with the MLB All-Star Voting setup. Why is Jhonny Peralta listed as the St. Louis Cardinals shortstop when he has not played a single inning of the regular season? Breakout rookie Aledmys Diaz is having an All-Star-worthy season and he is not even on the ballot. He is batting over .370 and driving in runs for St. Louis as a rookie! Although Trevor Story has proved himself consistent enough to remain the heavy favorite, there is no reason why mlb.com cannot update their site to include Diaz. The National League shortstop race really is run by rookies, however, as Corey Seager of the Dodgers is also playing catch-up to Diaz and Story.
Vote for: Trevor Story
Keep an eye on: Aledmys Diaz (write-in), Corey Seager
Third base is another position where the National League completely differs from the American League. Nolan Arenado of the Colorado Rockies was an MVP finalist last year and has been playing like an MVP this year. Before you say, “oh well his numbers are inflated from playing at Coors Field,” look at his home/road splits. They are practically identical. He has just as many home runs and his batting average only differs by .01.
Vote for: Nolan Arenado
Keep an eye on: Kris Bryant
Outfield (pick 3):
The NL outfield race is even more crowded than the AL. Between Ryan Braun, Yoenis Cespedes, Bryce Harper and tons of young breakout players, it will be difficult to narrow it down to three. Young players like Stephen Piscotty, Marcell Ozuna and Odubel Herrera may keep veterans like Giancarlo Stanton and Andrew McCutchen on the outside looking in.
Vote For: Ryan Braun, Yoenis Cespedes, Bryce Harper
Keep an eye on: EVERYBODY (Piscotty, Ozuna, Herrera, Stanton, McCutchen, Jay Bruce and Michael Conforto)
At the end of the day, it is your decision who you vote, but do you really want your team to not win home field advantage in the World Series because you decided to vote for all of the San Diego Padres or Seattle Mariners instead of weighing your options? You can vote up to 35 times on mlb.com, so go let your voice be heard.