With the unveiling of the MLB All-Star Game starters for the July 14 Midsummer Classic at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, the fan vote always provides a little controversy. Take a look below at the American League starters and why they were or were not the best choice for the spot:
Note: Statistics as of July 6
C: Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals (Got it wrong)
Perez certainly benefits from his success over the past few seasons and the Royals’ fanbase. He most benefits his own team with his defense, but he certainly provides some pop with the bat. However, Stephen Vogt has been a significantly better hitter and certainly more patient, drawing 40 walks compared to Perez's five free passes. In addition, Vogt's defense is nearly comparable and he has been a better pitch-framer. Yet, Perez still seems to be a very respectable starter and this will mark his second year in a row as the All-Star Game starter behind the plate.
1B: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers (Got it right)
There is no doubt that Cabrera deserves the starting nod, although he will be unable to participate due to a calf injury. The Tigers’ first baseman leads the AL in batting average (.350), while continuing to maintain power and patience at the plate. He remains one of the game's best players, as shown by his 10th All-Star Game selection.
2B: Jose Altuve, Houston Astros (Got it wrong)
Although Altuve is surely an All-Star-caliber player, Jason Kipnis of the Indians is just simply outperforming all other AL second basemen. While Altuve is batting .303, Kipnis is batting nearly 40 points higher with an MLB-leading 27 doubles. As Altuve dominated last year, Kipnis has been much better than previous seasons. Maybe it’s his track record (and playing in Cleveland) that cost him a starting spot.
SS: Alcides Escobar, Kansas City Royals (Got it wrong)
The Royals' fans got him into the All-Star Game, as there are several better options, namely Xander Bogaerts. He hasn’t done much to deserve this spot with only a .276 average, fourth among qualified AL shortstops. Meanwhile, Bogaerts is batting .302 with 18 doubles, 37 RBIs, and a .414 slugging percentage, pacing his peers in several categories. Escobar isn’t even a defensive upgrade over Bogaerts, who may even be a better defender.
3B: Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays (Got it right)
The Blue Jays lead the MLB in runs scored by a lot, and that is much in part to Donaldson. As a result of his success, he not only led both leagues in votes received, he set a new record with more than 14 million. He leads AL third basemen in home runs (20) and is tied for the lead in doubles (20), while hitting .300. However, there should certainly be a debate between Donaldson and Manny Machado for who’s more worthy. They are certainly neck-and-neck in both hitting and fielding, so either player would make an excellent starter for the team. It’s much more of a snub that Donaldson got almost 12 million more votes than Machado though.
OF: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels (Got it right)
Trout is simply just one of the best pure players in the MLB, and he’s one of the easiest choices for this year's All-Star team. He excels in power, speed, and fielding, which contribute to making him one of the league’s most complete players. His .968 OPS is 50 points higher than any other AL outfielder, displaying his ability to get on base and get big hits.
OF: Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals (Got it wrong)
This one was probably the farthest off, as he solely benefitted because he is a member of the fan-favorite Royals. The outfield has the most options because it isn’t position-specific, and Gordon isn’t near worthy of the coveted spot. While he has a knack for getting on base, he has a low batting average coupled with decent power. There are plenty more worthy players, including J.D. Martinez and Brett Gardner. Either would fit well, where Martinez would provide very good power and Gardner would provide both pop and speed and be able to lead off.
OF: Lorenzo Cain, Kansas City Royals (Got it right)
Of all the Royals players, Cain deserves it the most. The same arguments for Martinez and Gardner could be made over Cain, but his fielding separate him from the rest of the field. He hits for contact very well with great speed, leading AL outfielders in average and placing second in stolen bases. The Royals' fans help get this one right, and the AL will field an impressive outfield defense with Cain, Trout and Gordon chasing down fly balls.
DH: Nelson Cruz, Seattle Mariners (Got it right)
Even though he splits time in the outfield and at DH, Cruz very much earned his spot, beating Kendrys Morales by just over 300,000 votes. Cruz's .300 batting average, .907 OPS, and 21 home runs provide plenty of evidence for his power. The AL will certainly need his power, as Miguel Cabrera will not be available to play.