I wanted to share my 2021 All-Star ballot that I’m submitting to the IBWAA. We’ll start with the American League.
Catcher Mike Zunino (Rays) .202/.306/.504
Welcome to 2021, where a borderline Mendoza hitter is an viable All-Star candidate. Salvador Perez (KC) may be the more likely vote, but Zunino has 12 homers vs Perez’s 14 in 110 fewer at bats. Yasmani Grandal got consideration, but this ballot is pretty White Sox laden, and Austin Meadows is Tampa Bay’s only other All-Star candidate, and he’s probably going to be swallowed up in an heavy outfield pool.
First Base Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Blue Jays) .330/.438/.651
Should be unanimous. Vladdy Jr leads the league in homers, OBP, slugging and OPS. He’s a tremendously marketable piece, and a potential long term face of baseball player. No brainer here.
Second Base Marcus Semien (Blue Jays) .290/.358/.517
The Jays are one of my two favorite AL teams to watch right now. The infield is jammed with exciting, young talent. Semien’s 27 XBH’s and his slash line plus 8 for 8 on stolen bases makes him a great pick for the Mid-Summer party.
Third Base Yoan Moncada (White Sox) .291/.417/.422
The White Sox are the other AL team that I enjoy watching. Like the Jays, the Sox are packed with bright, young players. They’re good, they’re young and they’re exciting. If Tony LaRussa can let those horses run, they’re going to be very good for a very long time. Moncada is surrounded by some other great picks; Alex Bregman, Gio Urshela & Rafael Devers. But I think Moncada is a player the league should showcase, and the All-Star Game is where you do that.
Short Stop Tim Anderson (White Sox) .302/.340/.437
Outfield (vote for 3) Mike Trout (Angels) .333/.466/.624
Trout is the face of baseball right now. He’s the best overall player in the league. But he’s got some horses hot on his heels. Without seeing any sort of decline in his quality, this may be the Pride of Millville’s swan song as king of the game.
Mitch Haniger (Mariners) .254/.303/.400
The Mariners are in purgatory. Floating around .500 with a -54 run differential. They’re also coming off a massive PR black eye thanks to their former team president. Haniger and Kyle Seager are the only legitimate All-Star candidates for Seattle. And Seager plays 3rd, which puts him behind guys like Alex Bregman, Yoan Moncada, Gio Urshela, Rafael Devers (should I go on? Josh Donaldson, Matt Chapman…) Haniger has the potential to be the core of a young core moving forward. He should be the lone Mariner in Denver for the showcase.
Aaron Judge (Yankees) .293/.396/.548
Judge is having another great season, even if the Yankees are middling through 60 games. His .944 OPS and 15 homeruns gets a begrudging vote from a New England-based Phillies fan. This was the toughest pick for me. This spot had Byron Buxton, Matt Cahna and Teoscar Hernandez slotted in before finally giving the spot to Judge.
Designated Hitter J.D. Martinez (Red Sox) .313/.380/.553
I know, I know. Shohei. Hear me out. I’ve got Ohtani as one of my 3 at-large selections ONLY because we aren’t voting for pitchers, and Ohtani can fill three positions. That said, Martinez is one of three Red Sox that could easily make the cut for the AL team. But we’re going with Martinez here because Martinez may be the oldest player on the team and has a track record as a perennial all-star type player.
I’m not going to defend these selections because I don’t have to.
Shohei Ohtani (Angels)
Matt Olson (Athletics)
Salvador Perez (Royals)
Catcher J.T. Realmuto (Phillies) .293/.406/.493
The #BCIB, Realmuto is a beast behind the plate. He’s 6th in active caught stealing leaders at over 35%. And as a retired little league catcher, that stat is sexy (and wildly underappreciated). Buster Posey is the popular choice this year, but I have go to with the Best Catcher in Baseball.
First Base Max Muncy (Dodgers) .266/.420/.521
Freeman is the best firstbaseman in baseball, but Muncy’s numbers are stronger this year all the way around. Rhys Hoskins and Pete Alonso are also contenders, as well as Paul Goldschmidt, who’s a perennial nominee. Having watched San Deigo’s Eric Hosmer since his single-A days in Wilmington, I wish he was making a stronger case for himself to give me a reason to plug him in to the starting 9. But I just really hate Atlanta, and I don’t want to vote for a Braves player unless I really have to. Fortunately, Muncy gives me plenty of cover to not vote for Freddie.
Second Base Adam Frazier (Pirates) .329/.392/.468
The Pirates are a sad team. Ke’Bryant Hayes is the more likely Pirates representative to head to Colorado, but Frazier is having a sneaky-good year. He leads his position in batting average, OBP and OPS. And he has 21 walks versus only 28 strikeouts for the best BB/SO rate at second base. Plus, if you have your first initial on your jersey, you get my vote.
Third Base Alec Bohm (Phillies) .216/.260/.305
Bohm is a generational thirdbaseman, and I will die on that hill. He’s big, athletic, and once he starts to trust his instincts, he will be the best defensive thirdbaseman in the league. If he develops the way he should and can avoid the mistakes that were made with Scott Kingery, Alec Bohm will be this generation’s Mike Schmidt. Fight me IRL about it.
Short Stop Javier Baez (Cubs) .240/.276/.480
In a toss-up between Baez and Washington’s Trea Turner, Baez gets the nod – if only for the way he clowned the Pirates on that ground out RBI double a few weeks ago. Baez has that young money energy that players like Fernando Tatis Jr and Eloy Jiminez have that can revitalize the game and make baseball cool for the Fortnight players. Put him on a big time showcase, mic him up and let the kid ball out.
Outfield (3) Ronald Acuna (Braves) .284/.393/.612
His slashline speaks for itself. In the new deadball era, those are hall of fame numbers. He leads the league in home runs and has a OPS above 1.000. He’s a young superstar, and baseball needs Acuna to be on the national stage to break out.
Juan Soto (Nationals) .279/.412/.461
It looks like I’m taking all right fielders. But right field is stocked with talent. Soto, like Acuna, Baez, Tatis, the Generation Squad in Toronto (Biggio, Bichette & Guerrero), is a young firebrand. The kid can step-up to the occasion, and if we showcase baseball’s young stars this summer, Soto cannot be left out of the festivities.
Nick Castellanos (Reds) .355/.412/.622
Castellanos, another right fielder, has a gross 1.034 OPS with 33 extra base hits. His OBP suffers only in that he is a three true outcome guy. He’s already notched 46 strikeouts against only 19 walks. But he plays with the kind of energy that if we ever see a bench-clearer at an All-Star Game, I have a good feeling that Nicky C will be in the middle of it.
At-Large (4) Bryce Harper (Phillies) .268/.394/.483
Harp is struggling out of the gate, but still has 8 homers and 8 doubles with a respectable slash after his 42 games. If he can dial it up through the rest of June, the Phillies could find themselves on a run and go into All-Star Weekend as the talk of the league. He is also a love/hate kind of player. But the All-Star Game in a National League park could show the league what Nationals fans miss and what Phillies fans enjoy. Send him out there, let him do his big bow to the crowd, and make sure to tweet a pic of his All-Star cleats and his Phantic headband. I’m here for it. All of it.
Fernado Tatis, Jr (Padres) .277/.358/.639
After a scary injury opening week, Tatis has come back to put up great numbers. 17 homers, 26 XBHs and a great slashline. The Padres are a dangerous team because they’re good, and they’re young enough to not know you need to be humble when you’re good.
Buster Posey (Giants) .336/.411/.577
Offense alone, Posey is your starting catcher for the All-Star Game. But, Realmuto is the #BCIB. Posey is having a great year, and deserves to be on the team. Considering the league’s depth at shortstop, Brandon Crawford might get snubbed, leaving Posey as the only potential representative for the Giants.
Pete Alonso (Mets) .265/.349/.500
The Mets have forgotten how to hit. Jacob deGrom is quite literally a one man wrecking crew at CitiField. But, out of the Mets’ anemic offense, Alonso stands alone. Francisco Lindor will get his stroke back. And the Kevin Pillar/Brandon Nimmo platoon has potential to improve dramatically over the rest of the season. But going in to the break, deGrom and Alonso are the only players keeping the Mets from being relegated to the New York City Metro League.
In the next post, we’ll go over my 16 pitching selections for the Mid-Summer Classic.