Enough of the endless tweaks to the balloting. No more “mercy date” style selections from moribund teams. Let’s put an end to guys getting squeezed out because they play at a stacked position or worse, guys making the team because they’re the best at a position with little talent. We’re gonna pick sides like we did when we were kids: we’re just gonna take the best position players from each league and then find a place for them to play. The only caveat is that if they’re playing out of position, they can only move to the left on the defensive spectrum, they can’t move to a position that’s harder than the one they usually play unless they’ve played it in the past. And catchers have to be catchers. Naturally, we reserve the right to make arbitrary decisions.
American League Position Players
Gary Sanchez (Yankees), C: This spot should probably go to James McCann, but his season, while great, carries the stink of a fluke. Sanchez, who is currently leading the AL with 10.5 AB per HR, has mashed before and his defense, at least so far, is much improved.
Rafael Devers (Red Sox), 1B: You could make a strong argument that he’s been the MVP of the Sox thus far as he leads the team in WAR, hits, batting average and slugging percentage. His defense at third base was brutal in April, but is much improved since. The AL’s best first baseman so far has been Carlos Santana, but he hasn’t hit or fielded as well as Devers.
DJ LeMahieu (Yankees), 2B: After seven season in Colorado, where he hit .299 and won a batting title in 2016, LeMahieu signed with the Yankees. Some wondered if his success was a product of Coors Field; it would appear it was not. He currently leads the AL in batting average and is top ten in runs, hits, OPS, total bases and WAR.
Matt Chapman (A’s), 3B: Arguably the best 3B of his generation (sorry, Nolan Arenado). He’s having another great year with an .897 OPS and Gold Glove defense.
Jorge Polanco (Twins), SS: Like seemingly all of the Twins, Polanco is enjoying a breakout season. He’s top ten in WAR, batting average, hits, total bases, doubles, triples, extra-base hits, and times on base and is flashing some sweet leather.
Alex Bregman (Astros), LF: The best hitting third baseman in the AL, Bregman gets squeezed out by Chapman’s far superior glove. That said, he’s an outstanding athlete who would have no trouble roaming leftfield for a night. Well, maybe not. He’s played parts of four innings in the outfield, muffing the one flyball that was hit to him, but he’s got a cannon for an arm so he’ll be fine
Mike Trout (Angels), CF: He’s the best player of his generation and is slowly building a case as the GOAT.
Mookie Betts (Red Sox), RF: The reigning MVP is having a disappointing season, but only by the high standards he’s set in the past. He’s still playing elite defense in baseball’s toughest right field, leads the league in runs scored and is second in times on base.
Joey Gallo (Rangers), DH: For the previous two seasons he was just mashing dingers and striking out. Now he’s mashing dingers, striking out less often and taking more walks. He’s also had a lot more of his batted balls fall in for hits. It’s all added up to a 1.095 OPS and his defense has improved. Still, dude’s a born DH.`
National League Position Players
Wilson Contreras (Cubs), C: You could argue that this spot should go to JT Realmuto, but Contreras has been so much better at the plate with a 179-point advantage in OPS. Realmuto is better on defense, but not likely enough to overcome that deficit on offense.
Max Muncy (Dodgers), 1B: Muncy getting snubbed this year is Exhibit #12,691 for why they need to do a teardown of All-Star selection process. He’s in the top 10 in WAR, home runs, walks, OPS+, but somehow didn’t do enough? Please.
Ketel Marte (Diamondbacks), 2B: He’s on pace for 40 home runs, 100 runs scored, 100 RBIs, and a .920 OPS. Only two other 2B in baseball history have ever gone 40/100/100/.900: Rogers Hornsby and Ryne Sandberg. Not a bad list. And the kid can play center.
Nolan Arenado (Rockies), 3B: An elite bat and an elite glove is a tough combination to beat. Barring injury, he will finish this year top 8 all-time in WAR among 3B through their age-28 season.
Javier Baez (Cubs), SS: Can play every infield position, absolutely rakes, is a daredevil on the basepaths and has swagger for days. Fernando Tatis Jr would have gotten the nod if he hadn’t missed so much time.
Christian Yelich (Brewers), LF: What this guy has done since winning the 2018 NL MVP is bonkers: 31 home runs, 66 runs, 67 RBI, and a 1.132 OPS. In a year-and-a-half he’s gone from very good ballplayer to potential Hall-of-Famer.
Ronald Acuna (Braves), CF: The reigning NL Rookie of the Year is proving that last year was no fluke.
Cody Bellinger (Dodger), RF: Two years removed from setting the NL rookie record for home runs, Bellinger has put it all together to become a complete player. He leads the NL in runs, OPB, OPS+, WAR, plays outstanding defense and can fly (though he does lead the NL in times caught stealing).
Pete Alonso (Mets), DH: The defense is suspect, but the bat — 29 homers, .999 OPS — is undeniable. It kind of makes you wonder why it took so long for the Mets to bring him up.
All stats through July 2, courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com
Watch the 2019 Home Run Derby live Monday, July 8, at 8pm ET, followed by Cleveland vs. The World in the 2019 MLB All-Star Celebrity Game at 10pm ET on ESPN. Then catch the 2019 MLB All-Star Game Tuesday, July 9, at 8pm ET on FOX.