The starting position players were announced for the MLB All-Star Game on Friday. Mookie Betts and Trea Turner will start in the game at Dodger Stadium on July 19. But which of their Dodgers teammates will join them on the National League team?
First let’s go through the process.
Here are the NL starters:
- Dodgers: Betts (OF), Turner (SS)
- Braves: Ronald Acuña Jr. (OF)
- Giants: Joc Pederson (OF)
- Cardinals: Paul Goldschmidt (1B)
- Marlins: Jazz Chisholm Jr. (2B)
- Padres: Manny Machado (3B)
- Cubs: Willson Contreras (C)
- Phillies: Bryce Harper (DH)
I grouped them by team because every team must be represented on All-Star rosters, which could loom large for some final spots.
Bryce Harper was voted as the NL starter at designated hitter, but he just had thumb surgery and won’t play in the All-Star Game.
Bryce Harper said he had three pins put in his left thumb. They have to be there for three more weeks. He declined to offer a timeline for his return.— Matt Gelb (@MattGelb) July 5, 2022
Harper will need to be replaced on the roster, but we’ll get to that later.
The players vote for one player at each position as well, just like the fans, including three outfielders not necessarily distinguished by actual position. Players also vote for five starting pitchers and three relievers.
The commissioner’s office selects the final six spots on each roster (four pitchers, two position players), plus any injury replacements. Those final spots are usually where the only-player-on-his-team selections are made.
Each league will have 32 players, including 12 pitchers. Not counting against that roster total were special “legendary” picks Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera, who were announced on Friday as All-Stars who will be active for the game.
Full All-Star rosters will be revealed on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. PT at ESPN.
Let’s look at notable players at each position in the National League.
Travis d’Arnaud (Braves): .262/.315/.480, 11 HR, 119 wRC+, 2.2 fWAR, 2nd in fan voting
Will Smith (Dodgers): .257/.348/.454, 13 HR, 128 wRC+, 2.0 fWAR
J.T. Realmuto (Phillies): .239/.311/.373, 7 HR, 92 wRC+, 2.0 fWAR
Daulton Varsho (D-backs): .238/.297/.418, 12 HR, 97 wRC+, 1.7 fWAR
Smith has an excellent shot at making his first All-Star team, with a well-timed hot streak having him leading NL catchers in RBI (39), tied for the lead in homers, and second to Contreras in hits (64) and walks (33)
It helps that only five NL catchers have batted at least 250 times, and Smith has the cachet of being the cleanup hitter on the top-scoring team in the NL.
But if Smith doesn’t win the player vote, sledding will be tough. It would require the National League carrying three catchers, meaning one of the two spots picked by the commissioner would need to go to a catcher, potentially a difficult task if a particular unrepresented team’s most-deserving All-Star candidate is a position player.
Pete Alonso (Mets): .274/.350/.531, 22 HR, 146 wRC+, 2.1 fWAR, second in fan voting
Freddie Freeman (Dodgers): .297/.377/.480, 26 doubles, 10 HR, 141 wRC+, 3.0 fWAR
Josh Bell (Nationals): .306/.389/.495, 12 HR, 145 wRC+, 2.3 fWAR
C.J. Cron (Rockies): .295/.350/.551, 20 HR, 134 wRC+, 2.2 fWAR
Christian Walker (D-backs): .213/.326/.483, 21 HR, 122 wRC+, 2.1 fWAR
Freeman was voted to start by the fans in each of the last three All-Star Games. He also topped the player vote twice in those years (2018, 2021) and was second in player voting to Bell in 2019.
Cron seems to have the best All-Star shot among Rockies, though he left Friday’s game with a contusion after getting hit by a pitch on his left wrist, per Danielle Allentuck of the Colorado Springs Gazette.
Alonso was a commissioner’s pick in 2019.
Tommy Edman (Cardinals): .258/.325/.376, 7 HR, 103 wRC+, 3.3 fWAR
Jeff McNeil (Mets): .317/.378/.444, 4 HR, 139 wRC+, 2.6 fWAR
Gavin Lux (Dodgers): .296/.367/.417, 3 HR, 125 wRC+, 2.0 fWAR
Ketel Marte (D-backs): .268/.359/.426, 5 HR, 119 wRC+, 1.5 fWAR
Edman has split time between second base and shortstop for St. Louis, and is excellent defensively at both positions. McNeil is the best hitter of the group outside of Chizholm, who is starting. It would be tough to justify Lux over either of them, unless his 20 starts in left field is somehow considered as essential. But even then, McNeil has also toggled between second base and left field, and has a better case than Lux.
Marte is a potential pick as the D-backs representative.
Nolan Arenado (Cardinals): .295/.358/.529, 17 HR, 149 wRC+, 4.2 fWAR, 2nd in fan voting
Austin Riley (Braves): .275/.342/.540, 21 HR, 141 wRC+, 2.8 fWAR
Brandon Drury (Reds): .269/.328/.530, 18 HR, 132 wRC+, 2.1 fWAR
Patrick Wisdom (Cubs): .230/.319/.463, 17 HR, 117 wRC+, 1.2 fWAR
Arenado seems like the obvious pick to get the player vote, and Riley leads the position in home runs. Drury is having an excellent season as well, and the Reds need to have somebody.
Dansby Swanson (Braves): .302/.359/.494, 14 HR, 136 wRC+, 4.1 fWAR, 2nd in fan voting
Francisco Lindor (Mets): .240/.318/.417, 14 HR, 112 wRC+, 2.7 fWAR
Nico Hoerner (Cubs): .300/.337/.420, 5 HR, 110 wRC+, 2.4 fWAR
Kyle Farmer (Reds): .268/.336/.396, five HR, 102 wRC+, 0.6 fWAR
Swanson was as deserving as Turner to start at shortstop, and is the obvious choice to win the player vote. Kyle Farmer is a long shot here and would only make it if the Reds needed a pick, but Brandon Drury is a better choice for Cincinnati. But it is remarkable that the one-time catcher Farmer is now playing everyday at shortstop in the majors.
Starling Marte (Mets): .292/.343/.463, 10 HR, 132 wRC+, 1.8 fWAR, 3rd in fan voting
Adam Duvall (Braves): .206/.272/.378, 10 HR, 79 wRC+, 0.5 fWAR, 4th in fan voting
Brandon Nimmo (Mets): .277/.360/.446, 8 HR, 133 wRC+, 2.8 fWAR
Kyle Schwarber (Phillies): .221/336/.528, 27 HR, 136 wRC+, 2.3 fWAR
Juan Soto (Nationals): .239/.392/.463, 16 HR, 141 wRC+, 2.2 fWAR
Ian Happ (Cubs): .281/.377/.455, 8 HR, 132 wRC+, 2.2 fWAR
Kyle Schwarber leads the NL in home runs and seems like a lock. Juan Soto is having a down year but, more importantly, is still Juan Soto.
I included Daulton Varsho among the catchers above since that’s how he was listed on the ballot, but he’s started more games in the outfield (41) than behind the plate (18). He would fit perfectly as a commissioner’s pick if the D-backs still need a representative, especially as he could be the third catcher security blanket in addition to his outfield availability.
William Contreras (Braves): .266/.350/.568, 11 HR, 152 wRC+, 1.4 fWAR, 2nd in fan voting
Garrett Cooper (Marlins): .307/.371/.470, 7 HR, 140 wRC+, 1.9 fWAR
Daniel Vogelbach (Pirates): .245/.343/.458, 11 HR, 125 wRC+, 0.6 fWAR
Luke Voit (Padres): .231/.322/.420, 10 HR, 112 wRC+, 0.6 fWAR
J.D. Davis (Mets): .253/.341/.373, 3 HR, 110 wRC+, 0.2 fWAR
Wilmer Flores (Giants): .240/.332/.395, 9 HR, 109 wRC+, 1.3 fWAR
Rafael Ortega (Cubs): .260/.353/.390, 4 HR, 110 wRC+, 1.0 fWAR
Connor Joe (Rockies): .268/.368/.390, 5 HR, 105 wRC+, 0.8 fWAR
This is the weakest position in the league, especially after Harper. Someone filling in for Harper won’t need to be a DH, but given that the players will vote for one, whomever had the most votes among the other 14 non-Harper players on the ballot as DH will make the team. I listed the eight that had at least a 100 wRC+ above.
William Contreras might make the most sense here, as he and d’Arnaud have combined for an excellent Braves catching duo, both of whom see time at DH. It would be weird to have Contreras on the All-Star roster given he has less than two-thirds of the plate appearances of his teammate, but given that Contreras was listed as DH he might just win the player vote.
Sandy Alcántara (Marlins): 123⅓ IP, 1.82 ERA, 2.55 xERA, 107 strikeouts
Tony Gonsolin (Dodgers): 88⅔ IP, 1.62 ERA, 2.81 xERA, 80 strikeouts, 11-0
Max Fried (Braves): 107⅓ IP, 2.52 ERA, 2.81 xERA, 100 strikeouts
Corbin Burnes (Brewers): 106⅓ IP, 2.20 ERA, 2.69 xERA, 124 strikeouts
Joe Musgrove (Marlins): 99 IP, 2.09 ERA, 2.85 xERA, 98 strikeouts
Aaron Nola (Phillies): 111⅓ IP, 3.15 ERA, 2.81 xERA, 120 strikeouts
Zach Wheeler (Phillies): 95 IP, 2.46 ERA, 2.45 FIP, 104 strikeouts
Carlos Ródon (Giants): 91 IP, 2.87 ERA, 2.83 xERA, 112 strikeouts
Julio Urías (Dodgers): 87⅔ IP, 2.57 ERA, 2.96 xERA, 83 strikeouts
Logan Webb (Giants): 105⅔ IP, 2.98 ERA, 3.35 xERA, 88 strikeouts
Max Scherzer (Mets): 55⅔ IP, 2.26 ERA, 2.57 xERA, 70 strikeouts
Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers): 56 IP, 2.57 ERA, 2.73 xERA, 59 strikeouts
Merrill Kelly (D-backs): 97⅓ IP, 3.42 ERA, 3.54 xERA, 80 strikeouts
Tyler Anderson (Dodgers): 91⅓ IP, 3.15 ERA, 3.36 FIP, 77 strikeouts
Gonsolin leads in ERA and wins, and is in his home park. Alcántara has 12 more innings than anyone else, and leads in xERA and fWAR (3.4). Those two have the best case to start the All-Star Game, though Fried has been excellent and his manager (Brian Snitker) gets to make that call. Corbin Burnes is the reining Cy Young winner and leads the NL in strikeouts. All four will be All-Stars either way.
Clayton Kershaw has been very good in limited duty, and there’s been a sentimental push for him to start the game in his home park as well.
Julio Urías doesn’t have the run support to provide the eye-popping win total from last year, but he’s still pitching quite well. His best case is if you move beyond only the first half of one year to pick All-Stars, realizing that leaving behind the second half of every year seems weird. Since the 2021 All-Star break, Urías has the second-best ERA in the NL (2.32), trailing only Fried (2.16), whose 17 wins in that span makes him the only NL pitcher with more than Urías (16).
Scherzer has only started nine times, but has been awesome, and, well, are you going to be the one to tell Max Scherzer he’s not an All-Star?
Tyler Anderson seems like a long shot but definitely deserves mention as someone who started the season in the bullpen yet leads the Dodgers in innings pitched, all with a tidy 3.15 ERA.
Merrill Kelly would be a stretch, but could be a fit if the D-backs need a representative.
Josh Hader (Brewers): 28⅔ IP, 1.88 ERA, 2.09 FIP, 49 strikeouts, 26 saves
Edwin Díaz (Mets): 33⅓ IP, 1.89 ERA, 1.87 xERA, 66 strikeouts, 18 saves
Seranthony Dominguez (Phillies): 32 IP, 1.69 ERA, 2.17 FIP, 40 strikeouts, 3 saves
Devin Williams (Brewers): 32⅔ IP, 1.93 ERA, 1.57 FIP, 55 strikeouts, 5 saves
A.J. Minter (Braves): 36 IP, 1.75 ERA, 2.11 xERA, 48 strikeouts
Ryan Helsley (Cardinals): 35 IP, 0.77 ERA, 1.46 xERA, 53 strikeouts, 6 saves
David Bednar (Pirates): 39 IP, 2.31 ERA, 2.83 xERA, 52 strikeouts, 14 saves
Daniel Bard (Rockies): 31⅔ IP, 2.27 ERA, 2.17 xERA, 38 strikeouts, 17 saves
Díaz has struck out nearly half his batters faced. He and Hader have big saves totals to go with minuscule ERAs and high strikeout rates. Williams and Helsley are also in the 40-percent strikeout club, too.
David Bednar seems like the best All-Star candidate of all the Pirates. Bard as the lone Rockies All-Star would help Freeman at first base, depending on C.J. Cron’s availability.
I think Smith gets voted to the All-Star team by the players, and Freeman makes it as a commissioner’s pick (Alonso getting the player vote in this scenario). The players vote in Gonsolin, and Kershaw gets a commissioner’s pick. Urías, if he makes it, would be added as a replacement in the coming week when other pitchers drop out.