Do the current voting leaders deserve a starting spot?
Every spring, the baseball world anticipates the wave of talent that comes together for a few days to put on a show. Major League Baseball All-Star Weekend, which will be held at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., from July 15-17, will feature the game’s brightest stars for the Futures Game, Legends & Celebrity Softball Game, Home Run Derby and the 89th MLB All-Star Game to conclude the festivities.
With voting for the All-Star Game already well underway, and with plenty of debate swirling around who should represent each league at each position in just a few short weeks, here’s a look at who currently leads in the American League, who will most likely come out on top, and lastly our take on who is the most worthy candidate.
Reigning AL MVP @JoseAltuve27 has taken over as the @MLB overall leader in fan balloting, while @RaysBaseball catcher Wilson Ramos has surpassed Gary Sanchez of the @Yankees behind the plate. Visit https://t.co/Jd6REEkFYI to vote. #MLBVote pic.twitter.com/rPt4XQFrZI— MLB Communications (@MLB_PR) June 19, 2018
Note: Statistics referenced are through June 18
Who’s Leading: Wilson Ramos (Rays)
Who Should Win: Wilson Ramos (Rays)
Who Will Win: Wilson Ramos (Rays)
Breakdown: Ramos turned a 15,000-vote deficit to the Yankees' Gary Sanchez into a 60,000-vote lead, and for good reason. Ramos leads Sanchez by more than 90 points in batting average and by nearly 50 in OPS. Sanchez has been simply average by league standards this year, so kudos to the fans for noticing Ramos' production and giving him the edge.
Who’s Leading: Jose Abreu (White Sox)
Who Should Win: Jose Abreu (White Sox)
Who Will Win: Jose Abreu (White Sox)
Breakdown: It is almost a given that a hue of hosiery will be represented at first base for the Junior Circuit. The only question: red or white? Mitch Moreland has the stronger statistical season but does not have the requisite number of plate appearances to qualify among the league leaders. Abreu is slugging an even .500 to give him an OPS of .838 -- tops among AL first basemen -- and his 0.9 WAR has him in a three-way tie for first at the position.
Who’s Leading: Jose Altuve (Astros)
Who Should Win: Jose Altuve (Astros)
Who Will Win: Jose Altuve (Astros)
Breakdown: Altuve is the overall leader in votes, with more than 1.57 million collected so far. Yankees rookie Gleyber Torres has been on fire since he burst onto the scene, but Altuve's numbers -- 144 wRC+ and .386 BABIP, just to name a couple -- are staggering. About as sure-fire a pick as there is for the AL, Altuve is a clear-cut starter for the Midsummer Classic.
Who’s Leading: Manny Machado (Orioles)
Who Should Win: Manny Machado (Orioles)
Who Will Win: Manny Machado (Orioles)
Breakdown: Enjoy reading about Machado on the Orioles, because all signs point to him being traded before the July 31 deadline. And Machado's value has skyrocketed in 2018 thanks to a career-high walk rate and career-low strikeout rate, as well as a .950 OPS and 150 wRC+, both of which lead all AL shortstops.
Who’s Leading: Jose Ramirez (Indians)
Who Should Win: Jose Ramirez (Indians)
Who Will Win: Jose Ramirez (Indians)
Breakdown: Another one the fans are getting right. Notice a trend? Ramirez has been one of the most consistently strong performers in baseball this season, not just at his position or even in the AL. Like his breakout Yankees teammate Gleyber Torres, Miguel Andujar is turning heads in the Bronx. But Ramirez has demonstrated a level of consistency replicated by few this season, and barring extreme circumstances he'll parlay that into a starting spot in a few weeks.
Who’s Leading: Mookie Betts (Red Sox), Mike Trout (Angels), Aaron Judge (Yankees)
Who Should Win: Mookie Betts (Red Sox), Mike Trout (Angels), Aaron Judge (Yankees)
Who Will Win: Mookie Betts (Red Sox), Mike Trout (Angels), Aaron Judge (Yankees)
Breakdown: Even with a stint on the DL earlier this month, Betts is still putting up MVP-caliber numbers while manning right field for the Red Sox. Judge hasn't matched last year's numbers but is still continuing to hit baseballs a country mile. Trout, meanwhile, has a 1.5 WAR lead... over the entire league. He won AL MVP in 2014 and '16 (was the runner-up in '15 and '17), and has as good a case as anyone to win it again this year.
While it may not be the case in the NL, it appears as if the fans are voting in the most qualified at each position to start for the AL in July.
-- Written by Juan Jose Rodriguez, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and currently a senior at the University of Notre Dame. Rodriguez was an intern for Athlon during summer 2017 and works for a variety of media outlets on campus, including as the Editor-in-Chief of Scholastic Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @JuanJoseRG02.