All-Star voting has ended and many casual baseball fans may be wondering just who will represent the leagues at the midway point of the season. Well, with fan voting being a flawed system, many times the best player does not emerge as the All-Star. This list attempts to put together an objective roster of who really should be starting at each position, regardless of fan bias.
Catcher: Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals
Perez is about as solid as anyone could hope for behind the plate for the Royals. His offensive numbers are more than serviceable for someone at his position, batting .281 with 12 home runs. Defense, though, is where he really shines coming off of his third straight Gold Glove Award. Perez is the best catcher in the American league and should start.
First Base: Eric Hosmer, Kansas City Royals
The first-baseman in Kansas City has some competition here from the likes of Chris Davis and Miguel Cabrera, but Hosmer gets the nod. Hosmer is having his best year at the plate posting career highs in batting average (.304), on base percentage (.364), and slugging percentage (.487). He also provides above average defense at the position as he, like Perez, already has three Gold Gloves to his name. The all-around capability of Hosmer puts him in the starting role.
Second Base: Jose Altuve, Houston Astros
Despite a slow start for the Astros, Altuve is having another phenomenal overall season. His slight frame (he stands only 5 feet 6 inches tall) does not seem to hinder his offensive game at all, as he’s hit 14 home runs and driven in 49 RBI halfway through the season. Add in the .355 batting average and Gold Glove defense and Altuve is the easy pick to start at second.
Third Base: Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles
Machado has put together an incredible first half of the season and, if it continues, may just play himself to an MVP should the Orioles continue to win. He has everything you want from a guy at the hot corner: a solid bat (.331 average), power (18 HR, 50 RBI), and phenomenal defensive ability. Although Manny has had to fill in at short for the injured J.J. Hardy, he has made a name for himself at third and should start at the position.
Shortstop: Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox
Bogaerts has been a lynchpin player in helping the Red Sox get back into contention. He leads eligible shortstops in batting average (.334), on base percentage (.391), and RBIs (51). Francisco Lindor of the Indians is not far behind, but this year Bogaerts stands out as the premier shortstop of the league.
Outfield: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels; Mark Trumbo, Baltimore Orioles; Jackie Bradley, Jr., Boston Red Sox
The two-time MVP in Trout is just having another, well, Trout-like year batting .327 with 17 home runs and 53 RBIs, not to mention his great defense. Trumbo has been raking for the Orioles with 23 home runs along with 60 RBIs. Bradley, Jr. got recognition for his hitting streak earlier in the year, but he should be more well known for his bat (.293 average with 13 home runs) and his unbelievable range in center.
Designated Hitter: David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox.
Is this even a question? Big Papi, in his farewell tour, has only gone out and posted a .338 average along with 19 home runs and 64 RBIs. No one can deny Ortiz this spot as he plays in his final All-Star game.
Pitcher: Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox
Sale is, perhaps, the best pitcher in the American League and has put that notion on full display this season. His record stands at 14-2, and he is second in the league with 118 strikeouts. Add in a low walk rate with a heavy work load and Sale deserves the starting spot.
Catcher: Wilson Ramos, Washington Nationals
Ramos will fall behind more popular names like Buster Posey and Yadier Molina, but he should be the league’s starting catcher. He leads National League catchers in average (.336), on-base percentage (.386), slugging (.548), home runs (12), and RBIs (44). These types of numbers do not come around from the catcher position often, and Ramos should be rewarded for his career year.
First Base: Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs
Leading a power position in all power categories (home runs, RBIs, slugging percentage) is a pretty good way to get yourself a starting position on the All-Star team. Playing on what is the best team in the league also makes him look good, so Rizzo should easily be the starter for the NL.
Second Base: Daniel Murphy, Washington Nationals
After a scintillating postseason, Murphy picked up right where he left off and could be considered the league’s MVP of the first half. He currently leads the league in average (.346), has hit for power (14 HR, 55 RBI), and has been irreplaceable for the division leading Nationals. He won’t get the votes, but Murphy is the clear choice to start at second.
Third Base: Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs
Bryant is neck-and-neck with Nolan Arenado of the Colorado Rockies and either could be considered the correct choice. The edge goes to Bryant here, though, because of his recent greatness and his equal numbers despite not playing in Coors Field. Bryant shows great power (23 HR, 61 RBI) despite only being in his second season and is coming off a game where he hit three home runs and two doubles. That kind of performance puts Bryant over the top and slots him as the starting third baseman.
Shortstop: Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers
Despite only being a rookie this season, Seager may already be the league’s best shortstop. He hits for average and power (.301, 17 HR, 40 RBI) and plays great defense in a position that demands it. A brigade of Chicago Cubs voters will probably keep him out with Addison Russell in, but Seager is the class of the league at short.
Outfield: Marcell Ozuna, Miami Marlins; Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies; Yoenis Cespedes, New York Mets
Ozuna is putting together a fantastic season in Miami (.317, 17 HR, 47 RBI) despite being the fourth-most popular outfielder on the team. CarGo has continued his hot play and his power is hard to deny even with Coors as his home field. Cespedes continues to drive in runs for the Mets (47 RBI) and his cannon arm adds a defensive dimension that many outfielders simply cannot match.
Pitcher: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
Another no-brainer here, really. Kershaw has continued his reign as perhaps the most dominant pitcher of his era. His absurd strikeout numbers (145 K) and microscopic ERA (1.72) make him the obvious choice for the league. The only thing keeping Kershaw is injury, however, as he is currently on the DL with a back injury.
*Stats as of July 3, 2016