The official teams will be announced Sunday, but here is one man’s attempt at filling out the roster.
ANAHEIM, Calif. — This time it doesn’t count. Well, it will still count in the player’s wallet.
The upcoming Major League Baseball All-Star Game, which is slated for July 11 at Marlins Park in Miami, will no longer determine home-field advantage in the World Series. That unpopular rule perpetrated by former commissioner Bud Selig as a Band-Aid after the debacle of the 2002 game ending in a 7-7 tie was eliminated with the recent collective-bargaining agreement.
Instead, the new incentive for victory is that players on the winning team will earn $20,000. It’s a nice sum of money to the average person, but wouldn’t even buy one black-diamond chain, which are popular among players.
The new CBA also trimmed the roster from 34 to 32 players — 20 position players and 12 pitchers — per team.
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The fans vote for the starting position players as usual, but the reserves will be determined by the commissioner’s office and player ballots instead of by the managers.
Player ballots will have five starting pitchers, three relievers and a player at each position. The commissioner’s office will select seven players from the National League (four pitchers, three position players) and five American League players (four pitchers and one position player). The rule of having each team represented by at least one player still prevails.
Well, MLB, as with instant replay, finds ways to make most things seem that way. The official teams will be announced on a not-so-dramatic show on ESPN (not everything on there is the NFL or two hosts bleating at each other) on Sunday.
Bypassing such frivolity, here are the All-Star picks of a broken-down, but still best-looking, baseball writer at The Seattle Times.
All stats through Friday’s games.
First base (3)
Who’s leading: Eric Hosmer, Royals
Who should start: Justin Smoak, Blue Jays
Reserves: Logan Morrison, Rays; Yonder Alonso, A’s
Hosmer is having a decent season, but these three unexpected candidates have been much more productive, including two former Mariners first basemen. Smoak is hitting .297 with a .955 on-base plus slugging percentage, nine doubles, a triple, 22 homers and 52 RBI. He gets the nod over Morrison, who is also having a breakout year. Alonso, a Cuban defector raised in Miami, serves as the A’s rep.
Second base (2)
Who’s leading: Jose Altuve, Astros
Who should start: Altuve
Reserves: Robinson Cano, Mariners
Altvue is the easy choice while Cano gets the nod over the Yankees’ Starlin Castro and Detroit’s Ian Kinsler.
Third base (3)
Who’s leading: Miguel Sano, Twins
Who should start: Jose Ramirez, Indians
Reserves: Sano, Mike Moustakas, Royals
Sano is a main reason why the Twins are playing above expectations, but Ramirez is hitting .321 with a .932 OPS, 25 doubles, four triples, 12 homers and 36 RBI and has helped push Cleveland back to the top of the AL Central.
Who’s leading: Carlos Correa, Astros
Who should start: Correa
Reserves: Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox; Andrelton Simmons, Angels
A .308 batting average and a .920 OPS to go with 15 doubles, 16 homers and 53 RBI on the best team in baseball makes it an easy choice. Simmons gets the nod helping the Angels stay afloat with the injury to Mike Trout.
Who’s leading: Salvador Perez, Royals
Who should start: Gary Sanchez, Yankees
Reserves: Perez, Alex Avila, Tigers
Sanchez has 13 homers and 39 RBI compared to Perez’s 16 homers and 48 RBI in 20 fewer games. Avila has had a career renaissance in his return to Detroit, hitting .315 with a 1.017 OPS.
Who’s leading: Mike Trout, Angels; Aaron Judge, Yankees; George Springer, Astros
Who should start: Trout, Judge, Springer
Reserves: Mookie Betts, Red Sox; Avisail Garca, White Sox
Trout won’t start cause of his thumb injury. Betts should get the nod to take his place. Garcia is having a big year and gives the White Sox their representative.
Designated hitter (2)
Who’s leading: Corey Dickerson, Rays
Who should start: Dickerson
Reserves: Nelson Cruz, Mariners
Cruz led the voting for much of the process, but a late swoon and Dickerson’s gaudy .326 average pushed him ahead in voting last week.
Who should start: Chris Sale, Red Sox
Reserves: Lance McCullers, Astros; Jason Vargas, Royals; Corey Kluber, Indians; Yu Darvish, Rangers; Ervin Santana, Twins; Michael Fulmer, Tigers; Craig Kimbrel, Red Sox; Chris Devenski, Astros; Dellin Betances, Yankees; Andrew Miller, Indians
Sale gets the nod as the starter over McCullers. Devenski is the best reliever most people have never heard of, and Vargas picked a good year to become a free agent and an All-Star.
First base (3)
Who’s leading: Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals
Who should start: Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks
Reserves: Goldschmidt, Joey Votto, Reds
Zimmerman is deserving to start. He’s hitting. 339 with a 1.008 OPS, 19 homers and 62 RBI in a stunning bounce-back year. Goldschmidt is deserving to start, hitting .317 with a 1.019 OPS, 19 homers and 66 RBI. One can start at first and the other can be the DH.
Second base (2)
Who’s leading: Daniel Murphy, Nationals
Who should start: Josh Harrison, Pirates
Murphy has a .336 batting average and a .962 OPS, but Harrison is the sentimental favorite — a scrapper and hustler — who’s hitting .297 and plays superior defense.
Third base (4)
Who’s leading: Nolan Arenado, Rockies
Who should start: Arenado
Reserves: Kris Bryant, Cubs; Justin Turner, Dodgers; Anthony Rendon, Nationals
Arenado is the most underrated player in baseball and the best player at a loaded position in the NL.
Who’s leading: Zack Cozart, Reds
Who should start: Corey Seager, Dodgers
Either player deserves to start, and both will make the team. Teammate Joey Votto will buy Cozart a donkey if he makes the team.
Who’s leading: Buster Posey, Giants
Who should start: Posey
Reserves: Tyler Flowers, Braves
Posey is the best catcher in baseball without dispute. Flowers is the Braves’ rep with Freddie Freeman out with injury.
Who’s leading: Bryce Harper, Nationals; Marcell Ozuna, Marlins; Charlie Blackmon, Rockies
Who should start: Harper, Ozuna, Blackmon
Reserves: Cody Bellinger, Dodgers; Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins; Jay Bruce, Mets
Bellinger has been a homer-hitting phenomenon. But the host team should get a starter, and Ozuna (.313 batting average, .934 OPS, 20 homers and 54 RBI) is certainly worthy. Bruce gets the nod over Michael Conforto, who just went on the DL.
Who should start: Max Scherzer, Nationals
Reserves: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers; Carlos Martinez, Cardinals; Alex Wood, Dodgers, Robbie Ray, Diamondbacks; Stephen Strasburg, Nationals; Kenley Jansen, Dodgers; Greg Holland, Rockies; Corey Knebel, Brewers; Brad Hand, Padres; Pat Neshek, Phillies; Felipe Rivero, Pirates
Scherzer is a no-hitter or a 15-strikeout possibility any time he takes the mound. Knebel, Hand and Neshek all give their team a representative, but they’ve also put up All-Star-worthy numbers.