All Star voting ends at 11:59 p.m. EST tonight (June 29) here’s who the DPB crew has vetted as ASG worthy using none of the maths and all the emotions. To read more Pints and Picks, click here.
To see how we’re doing on our preseason MLB picks, click here.
After nearly four decades of chagrin, I’m starting to come around to the notion that the All Star Game should mean something.
Note to commissioner Manfred: Congrats on stripping away the game determining World Series home field as part of the offseason’s collective bargaining agreement. That era of a midsummer night’s exhibition doing so will go down in infamy much like the newest season of Orange is the New Black, yet another Full House redux or whatever it is that Chelsea Handler gets up to on Friday nights (can you tell I’m a little annoyed that I’ve been getting the spinning wheel and buffering pauses on Netflix of late?)
…The ASG should be a fun way to watch a little baseball and swap up some kind of medium stakes: I’m thinking the winning league gets to decide whether to abolish the DH/make it universal the final half of the season for starters or the losing league has to grow Magnum ‘staches for the remainder of their campaign. Nobody on the short side gets to customize their Lambo with their number on a hood scoop in the offseason or wear anything by Affliction for eleven months straight. That truly would be a sacrifice for today’s MLB.
Warner Fusselle-like gentlemen’s bets all around …and bring back the shaving cream pie and hot foot during the cutaways while we’re at it, just, you know, so at least I can pretend we’re still living in a time where the majority of Americans hated Russia and chose democracy, tabletop video games and Wham!
OK, so, real quick I’m not going to bog down in stats as much as the feels of who I want to see throw on whatever Flo-Jo-inspired All Star jersey they roll out this year for the tilt in Miami (note: I’m never mad at an ASG that resembles a Pride parade …viva taking one’s talents to South Beach.) …And please note, I am going to be even more West Coast-bias than usual (especially in the NL. See: Zero Cubs.)
Why you ask? Two metrics:
- I live here.
- The fact that voting ends just before the stroke of midnight EASTERN shorting me three hours of clicking (btw, I still have some OG chad-punching ballots from the 1990 game that I kept in a baseball card shoebox …eBay? Framable? Or trash?) means I have to exact my revenge by repping for the undercovered timezones.
…I tried to think of a third, but I couldn’t. Oh yeah, note to 2017 NL West All Star representatives, please take a picture like the one above from your early-’90s predecessors—’cept maybe include a shoulder rub conga. You won’t regret it.
OK, here we go AL first, then NL.
Catcher—Alex Avila (DET) Homeboy is hitting over .320 and handles the ear-hair-tearing-out-in-frustration Detroit starters like Leonard Bernstein.
1B—Joe Mauer (MIN) That’s right, I’m picking the veteran who endured some awful, awful years (a decade-plus) on a field named after the store you have to go to to pick up some off-brand children’s Tylenol only to come out clean on the other side like Andy Dufresne as the Twinkies are a half game out at dateline and looking to at least grab a Wild Card out of the central.
2B—Jose Altuve (HOU) The manifestation of the Stros pardon our dust five-year renovation in real time. He’s your open concept, granite countertop and farm basin sink all in one (.324 BA and 11 bombs to keep pace with last year’s MVP-worth season.)
SS—Andrelton Simmons (LAA) Clutch hitting, a magic glove and 7 dingers what’s not to like for the suddenly contending Angels?
3B—Jose Ramirez (CLE) truth told, I haven’t watched Ramirez play much but he’s hitting above .320 and the Tribe doesn’t contend without him.
OF—Aaron Judge (NYY) um, obvi!, Mike Trout (LAA) injured but you gotta have the GOAT and George Springer (HOU) because all he does is hit lead-off round-trippers (9).
DH—Corey Dickerson (TB) Hitting .333 and wilting in Tampa …also, his real first name is McKenzie and that would be an All Star first.
AL Pitchers: Jason Vargas (KC) great pitcher, horrible squad should start over Chris Sale (BOS) …who all the fake Will Huntings said they did the math on and found out he’s the best, 155 Ks kid! He’s not. Vargas is. Michael Fulmer (DET) has a lovely beard and is The One the Tigs need to build around. Carlos Carrasco (CLE) is as scary as anything in Cleveland this side of the Smiths not being in the R&R HOF. Craig Kimbrel (BOS) and his swingy arm thingy is scarier than the beer cut-off in late innings. And Andrew Miller (CLE) is a journeyman who finally deserves his moment out of the pen.
C—Buster Posey (SF) is the only ray of hope on the Giants this year. He’ll get the vote anyway but deserves it as he’s for whatever reason putting together his best season (.344/11 HRs) in a half decade on the worst team in baseball.
1B—Paul Goldschmidt (ARI) Duh. The NL is stacked with first basemen but PG’s game is rated XXX this year. Makes me want to travel to Phoenix in the summer, and that’s saying something.
2B—Chris Taylor/Cody Bellinger (LAD) Taylor is the most defensively sound 2B in the league and is so efficient at the plate (.835 OPS) he almost goes unnoticed in a Dodgers’ murderers’ row. As for Bellinger, I’m taking the rookie sensation out of the crowded NL outfield and letting him loose on the dirt if I’m Joe Maddon. So what if he’s only got one start at second thus far this season? Bellinger, btw, is the yang to Aaron Judge’s Yin. I LOVE the NY Daily News’s recent bit about how the Yanks should’ve drafted both players in 2013 …never discount New York’s bombast and swagger now that they’re finally rid of Trump.
SS—Corey Seager (LAD). Zack Cozart (CIN) has slightly better numbers but Seager is more fun to watch, more consistent with a glove and is part of that what’s-next-that’s-happening-now crew.
3B—Justin Turner (LAD) Um, Braveheart’s Ginger Goliath buddy is fucking mashing leading all hitters in baseball with a .385 average. He dives everywhere on D. If you’re not a Justin Turner fan something’s wrong with you.
OF—Marcell Ozuna (MIA) gotta give one to the host team and he rakes, Charlie Blackmon (COL) the best CF in baseball offensively and the guy I would cast to replace Burt Reynolds in the starring role of a Deliverance reboot and Bryce Harper (WAS) golden boy blessed by the angel Moroni is a joy to behold. ^ This outfield man. Maybe the best in 25 years (‘92 = Bonds, Gwynn and Van Slyke) for the NL.
NL Pitchers: Max Scherzer (WAS) is leading everyone in innings (113.2), ERA (2.06) and OPS against (.520). There is no other. I’d like to see Kershaw (LAD) get the rock next. He’s only 11-2 with a 2.47 ERA in what most are characterizing as an ‘off’ season. Kenley Jansen (LAD) is scarier than a Michael Myers Halloween mask and Detroit native Chris Rusin (COL) is confounding all NL hitters at his home stadium in the Rockies…no small task. My other non NL West pick for the yawner innings will be Corey Knebel (MIL) who is probably a third of the reason Milwaukee is so interesting this season.
Predicted final score: 11-7 NL. Too many Dodgers and too much Scherzer to ignore.
OK Kyle, have at.
I like your picking strategy, but I am a certified bro who will yell SCOREBOARD at opposing fans after my team hangs a W. My strategy will place winners on the pedestal—you have to be in spitting distance of a wild card spot or division lead for a place on my ballot.
Unfortunately, my team (Detroit) isn’t there this season, so I’ve sort of been following the races. Here are a few takeaways I’ve gleaned:
- The NL East and AL West are godawful.
- There are three pulses between these two divisions: Houston, Washington, and (sorta) Anaheim. The rest are speedbumps and meat markets. It’s jarring to see 12.5 and 9.5 game leads from the first two, respectively. One wonders if they’ll maintain the focus they need heading into the playoffs, where they’re inexperienced and have a history of struggling. I’m not denying H-Town and the Nats are good or even great, but iron sharpens iron, and right now they’re mostly cutting through butter.
- Regression is a real bitch. (I think.)
- Poor Milwaukee and Minnesota. After leading their respective divisions for most of the season to this point, the Brewers are only up a game on the Cubs and the Twins are chasing the Indians by one in the AL Central. These teams aren’t really at the point in their development processes where they’ll give up much to acquire talent, which has to be a real kick in the ass for their fans. I’ve lamented baseball’s cruelty a million times, but the inevitable end of feel-good stories like these is the sport’s most ruthless feature, year-in and year-out. Hopefully the Upper Midwest gets a wild-card chase out of this.
- Youth is serving.
- You mentioned Bellinger and Judge already, so I won’t bang that drum too much, but goddamn are good baseball players young right now. Fulmer missed a complete game by an out on Thursday and looked strong doing it. Seager and Bellinger are both >23. The league is littered with guys like Washington’s Trea Turner, Houston’s Carlos Correa, and even mortals like Tampa’s enjoyable Mallex Smith. Speaking as a fan, these players and their style is pushing this game in amazing ways. Plus, you know, SPEED.
OK AJ, to my picks:
C—Gary Sanchez (NYY). Alex Avila is clearly the leader in the clubhouse amongst AL backstops, but I’m delivering a winner unto you! Sanchez has also logged more innings than AA, has more homers (13), and still shows signs of life on the basepaths (2 SB.)
1B—Logan Morrison (TAM). LoMo has pop—22 HR—and serves the shoulders his Tampa teammates have stood upon to almost look at a wild card spot (they’re 1 game back.)
2B—Altuve (HOU). Altuve parlayed that ‘energy guy on a bad team’ role into that ‘perrenial all-star and one of the best players in the game’ role, and I’ve definitely never seen that before. He consistently amazes.
SS—Carlos Correa (HOU). Because there are so many good young players in baseball—frequently playing in more baseball-centric markets—Correa gets overlooked. But the ‘Stros SS is putting together terrifyingly good ABs—he leads all SS in walks and is hitting .306.
3B—Miguel Sano (MIN). Ramirez is good, and has some gaudier numbers, but there’s a 15 walk gulf between the two with Sano at 41 and Ramirez at 26.
OF—Judge (NYY), Trout (LAA), Mookie Betts (BOS). You’ve said all there is to say about the first two guys. Betts makes my outfield because he does a lot of what they do and he just doesn’t strike out. He’s probably one of the three or four most polished batters in the game, and he’s only 24.
P—Vargas, KC, Sale (CLE) Ervin Santana (MIN) Yu Darvish (TEX). My RPs are Craig Kimbrel (BOS) and Roberto Osuna (TOR). Osuna is dealing with a bout of anxiety and dragged it into the spotlight last week, telling reporters he struggles with that particular mental illness. That’s a huge admission from a guy whose manager (John Gibbons) thinks the subject is too taboo to speak on, and who hails from a culture (Sinaloa, Mexico) that isn’t exactly open to talking about feelings. I’m rooting for this young man.
C—Wilson Contreras, (CHC) Contreras is a catcher who doesn’t call out his teammates and get cut.
1B—Paul Goldschmidt, (ARI) I’m really excited for my once annual Paul Goldschmidt sighting. 44 is a demon in literally every aspect of the game, with a 1.035 OPS.
2B—Chris Taylor (LAD) Taylor has a very Javier Baez circa-2016 feeling about him, except more polished. This is one of the guys who can put the Dodgers over the top late in the season and into the playoffs.
SS—Corey Seager (LAD) Power. .401 OBP. Winner. Easy call here.
3B—Anthony Rendon (WAS) Playing in a league where your peers are Nolan Arenado, Kris Bryant and Jake Lamb should not be as easy as Rendon makes it look for the first-place Nats.
OF—Bryce Harper (WAS) Cody Bellinger (LAD) Charlie Blackmon (COL) Bellinger is an at-bat you HAVE to stop for, and he’s 21. The only thing anyone stopped for regarding my 21st year was ‘to make sure that dude is alive.’ Blackmon plays the best centerfield in the NL and patrols some monster expanses in the west. Doing what he does with a bat—16 bombs, .944 OPS—is like fishing with dynamite.
P—Max Scherzer, Gio Gonzalez (WAS) Robbie Ray (ARI) Clayton Kershaw (LAD) Max is on one of this patented tears that only the end of a season can really stop—you’re almost never in anything but 0-2 or 1-1 with him by your third pitch, which, good luck catching up to 95. Ray is feasting on NL batters after coming over from the Tigers and Kershaw is succeeding despite being victimized by the same HR bug that seems to be plaguing every pitcher in the league this summer. My RPs are Greg Holland (COL) and Fernando Rodney (ARI) for holding down two young bullpens and keeping a steady hand on what could otherwise be a pretty wild ride for teams new to contention.
Final score, 7-3, AL. AJ, please tell every team in the senior circuit that they can fill in their second-half lineup cards with a D-E-S-I-G-N-A-T-E-D H-I-T-T-E-R.