With the Cubs finally turning the ship around this year, it’s a worthwhile questions to ask how many All-Stars can you reasonably expect the team to send to the game. Let’s take a look at how the NL team breaks down and what chances the Cubs have.
(Note: When predicting All Star teams, you always have to remember that the Manager’s picks and the players’ picks will play a huge role in the decision process. You may be the biggest analytics buff, but chances are slim that players truly evaluate their votes at that level too.)
There was a sentiment earlier in the year in Cubland that Miguel Montero was proving himself worthy of another All Star berth. He has been All-Star twice before and his early season numbers seemed like he was going to have another shot to make the team. He still remains in the top five in the fan voting for Catcher, as well. But Montero has tapered off lately and is hitting .239/.352/.408. That on-base percentage is alright, but with two spots probably occupied by Buster Posey and Yadier Molina (between the fan vote and reputation, they’ll both go), I don’t think there’s room for a third catcher, much less Montero. If there was room, I would argue that spot should go to Francisco Cervelli of the Pirates who’s producing at a .303/.378/.404 level. Montero does have tons of value, but I don’t see him cracking the All-Star team this year.
My picks: Buster Posey (Giants); Yadier Molina (Cardinals)
Well, this is one of the trickiest categories of them all. Paul Goldschmidt has been a monster so far this season and he, rightfully, seems to be running away with the fan vote. So that leaves Anthony Rizzo, Adrian Gonzalez, Joey Votto and Freddie Freeman (don’t forget about him!) competing to make the team. Of those three, Rizzo seems to be the clearest to make the team. He’s hitting .304/.413/.568 with a 3.6 WAR. From there, I can hardly differentiate between Gonzalez and Votto. Gonzalez is at .298/.372/.516 while Votto is .284/.398/.502. They’re both incredibly solid and to exclude either would be an aggressively big snub. Freeman, unfortunately, just won’t be able to make it.
My picks: Paul Goldschmidt (Diamondbacks); Anthony Rizzo (Cubs); Adrian Gonzalez (Dodgers); Joey Votto (Reds)
On the cusp: Freddie Freeman (Braves); Adam Lind (Brewers)
Addison Russell isn’t gonna make it. Too bad, but it’s not gonna happen this year.
Starlin Castro has a negative WAR. He’ll not be attending his 4th All-Star game this year.
On the cusp: Andrelton Simmons (Braves)
Another tricky category! There are tons of 3rd Basemen who are producing at a very high level this season. I would guess that the fate of Kris Bryant is going to hinge on the fan voting. Right now, it looks like the Cardinals’ Matt Carpenter is going to hold on and win the fan vote. He’s got a slim lead over the Reds’ Todd Frazier. If Carpenter holds on, he’ll be the least qualified NL 3rd Baseman to make it – he’s got a .279/.376/.461 line with a 1.7 WAR. Nolan Arenado (.292/.325./.627) and Frazier (.289/.351/.617) both will be ahead of him and Justin Turner of the Dodgers has accrued – while in slightly fewer at bats – a .324/.397./.582. He definitely deserves a spot – but I don’t think he’ll get one especially if Carpenter makes it. This is all not to even mention Yunel Escobar of the Nationals who is posting a .324/.376./.416 line right now.
So that leaves Kris Bryant who has a higher WAR than Carpenter, but otherwise doesn’t have much of a case this year. His line (.272/.375/.463) just doesn’t really qualify him to make the team from the get-go.
That said, I really don’t think Bryant is totally screwed. In fact, I would guess that Bryant’s best chance is to get onto the Final Vote ballot and put his faith in the Cubs fans to #VoteBryant him into the game. He’s the perfect guy for MLB to put on the ballot: young, charismatic, plays in a big market. I think he’ll be on that ballot and I think he very well may make it that way.
My picks: Matt Carpenter (Cardinals); Nolan Arenado (Rockies); Todd Frazier (Reds)
On the cusp: Justin Turner (Dodgers); Yunel Escobar (Nationals); Kris Bryant (Cubs); Yasmany Tomas (Diamondbacks)
On the cusp: Jason Heyward (Cardinals)
This kills me…but I don’t think the Cubs are going to get either Jason Hammel or Jake Arrieta onto the squad. Hear me out: The NL has a ton of pitchers having great seasons this year and a lot of respected pitchers having alright seasons. Zack Greinke, Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom and Gerrit Cole will all make it on merit. Shelby Miller has been great for the Braves and they’ll need an All-Star. Clayton Kershaw and Madison Bumgarner haven’t been excellent but they’ll make it, nonetheless. So that leaves A.J. Burnett who has been a great story for the Pirates. Between his pretty solid numbers and the feel-good-ishness of his story, I really think Burnett will snag the final starter spot.
So that doesn’t leave room for Arrieta or Hammel, or Michael Wacha, Carlos Martinez or Lance Lynn of the Cardinals, or Matt Harvey, or Cole Hamels or Johnny Cueto. I just don’t see them making it this year.
My picks: Zack Greinke (Dodgers); Max Scherzer (Nationals); Shelby Miller (Braves); Jacob deGrom (Mets); Gerrit Cole (Pirates); A.J. Burnett (Pirates); Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers); Madison Bumgarner (Giants)
On the cusp: Michael Wacha (Cardinals); Lance Lynn (Cardinals); Carlos Martinez (Cardinals); Jason Hammel (Cubs); Jake Arrieta (Cubs); Matt Harvey (Mets); Cole Hamels (Phillies); Johnny Cueto (Reds)
As you can see, my hopes for seeing a Cub-takeover of the 2015 All-Star Game are pretty low. After looking at all the competition between the positions, I don’t see a scenario where a Cub other than Anthony Rizzo is named to the All-Star Game off the bat. That said, Kris Bryant would still be the perfect person for the Final Vote ballot. So get your #VoteBryant hashtags ready, we could be in for some fun.