Featured image courtesy of Zimbio.com (June 26, 2018 – Source: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images North America)
It’s amazing how time flies. It seems like the 2018 season has just started, yet it’s already time for the All-Star voting. With the All-Star lineups officially being released July 8th, the Red Sox Unfiltered team has come up with our predicted lineups. Without further ado, here is the Red Sox Unfiltered American League All-Star roster prediction.
National League All-Star Roster Prediction coming soon
Red Sox Unfiltered American League All-Star Roster Prediction
Major league baseballs All-Star voting process is truly nothing more than a popularity contest. Instead of basing this prediction on who will make the team, this projection is based more on who deserves the spots on the team. With that in mind, let’s look at the roster.
Wilson Ramos – Tampa Bay Rays (starter)
Gary Sanchez – New York Yankees
Sandy Leon gets snubbed in this projection, as two other AL East catchers represent the club. There really aren’t that many good catchers in baseball right now, especially in the American League. While Sanchez will likely earn the start on the real roster, Tampa Bay Rays catcher Wilson Ramos deserves the honors.
Through 71 games, Ramos owns a .291/.340/.468 slash line to go along with a 102 wRC+. While Gary Sanchez owns a somewhat similar .190/.291/.433 slash with a 97 wRC+. Sanchez is much more a power hitter, while Ramos makes more consistent contact.
The tiebreaker should (but won’t) come down to Ramos’ vastly superior defense. Sanchez is something of a mess defensively, while Ramos is a solid backstop. He’s the better catcher and should start for the American League team.
First Base (3)
Mitch Moreland – Boston Red Sox (starter)
Jose Abreau – Chicago White Sox
Justin Smoak – Toronto Blue Jays
At first glance, starting Mitch Moreland over Jose Abreau looks like blatant homerism on a biased Boston sports blog. However, looking at this year’s stats, Moreland has earned the honor.
Moreland’s having a phenomenal year, posting a .288/.354/.533 slash line with an impressive 139 wRC+ (100 is league average). Moreland brings this strong hitting and compliments it with Gold Glove-caliber defense. While he does struggle against lefty pitching, Moreland has been a reliable bat all season long.
Abreau’s played well in his own right, but not quite to the level of Moreland. So far, Abreau owns a .265/.322/.461 slash line with a 111 wRC+. He’s been a good hitter, but this is arguably the worst season of his career. He’s still one of the game’s best, but he’s not playing up to his usual level.
Major league baseball has a stupid rule in which one player from every team must make the All-Star game roster, regardless of how good they are. Congratulations, Justin Smoak, you’re the best player on the 2018 Toronto Blue Jays.
Second Base (2)
Jose Altuve (starter) – Houston Astros
Jed Lowrie – Oakland Athletics
Jose Altuve will probably be the American League starting second baseman for the majority of the next decade. The reigning MVP is truly a five-tool player and has a legitimate case to be the second best player in baseball (nobody is better than Mike Trout). While he’s not having as prolific a season as last year, Altuve is still hitting .332/.398/.476 with a 146 wRC+.
Jed Lowrie is having a solid season in his own right and is probably the best player on the Oakland Athletics. The longtime veteran and former Red Sox is currently hitting .291/.357/.498 for a 137 wRC+. While rookie Gleyber Torres will likely earn the honors on the team, Lowrie has been essentially the same hitter all season long. The tiebreaker goes to Lowrie in this projection, as he has an extra month and a half of playing time in the 2018 season. Torres will be a regular here before long, but Lowrie should earn the honors in 2018.
Manny Machado (starter) – Baltimore Orioles
Francisco Lindor – Cleveland Indians
Carlos Correa – Houston Astros
The Baltimore Orioles are a train wreck, but Manny Machado is playing his usual fantastic baseball. Machado has been the only bright spot on an otherwise hopeless Orioles team, posting a .308/.378/.561 slash line with a corresponding 150 wRC+. His contract is expiring, and he’s destined to be traded before the deadline. The Orioles could struggle to win 40 games without him.
While Machado is the best shortstop of 2018, Francisco Lindor could very well be the best shortstop of his time. In a league saturated with fantastic shortstop play, Lindor is the cream of the crop. His stats are almost identical to Machado’s (.297/.374/.573, 155 wRC+), and one could easily make the case for putting him as the starting shortstop. However, in this projection, that honor goes to Machado. This season has been a nightmare for the Orioles, let’s at least give them this.
Third Base (3)
Jose Ramirez (starter) – Cleveland Indians
Jeimer Candelario – Detroit Tigers
Mike Moustakas – Kansas City Royals
While he’s cooled off from his torrid start to the season, Jose Ramirez has been the best third baseman in the American League throughout the majority of the season. Ramirez has been borderline unstoppable at the plate, slashing .294/.398/.600 to go along with a 167 wRC+. While the Indians offense as a whole lacks pop, Ramirez and Lindor have essentially gone all the work by themselves.
The Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals are blatantly tanking, trading away most, if not all, of their good players. Because of this, Ramirez is the only third baseman on the roster actually deserving of the spot. Congratulations, Jeimer Candelario and Mike Moustakas, you’re the best players on bad teams.
Rafael Devers is having a better year than both of them.
Mike Trout (starter) – Los Angeles Angels
Mookie Betts (starter) – Boston Red Sox
Aaron Judge (starter) – New York Yankees
Eddie Rosario – Minnesota Twins
Mitch Haniger – Seattle Mariners
Andrew Benintendi – Boston Red Sox
Shin-Soo Choo – Texas Rangers
The starting outfield is probably the easiest decision on this whole roster. Mike Trout is the best player in all of baseball and is in the midst of arguably his best season yet. Mookie Betts is arguably the second-best player in baseball and is somehow keeping pace with Trout’s historic season. Aaron Judge, while not quite as good as the other two, is still a borderline top-10 player in baseball. It’s easy to imagine this outfield starter each of the next five All-Star games.
While Eddie Rosario is the only Twin on the roster and isn’t a starter, he’s still earned his spot as one of the best left fielders in baseball. Rosario is hitting .307/.348/.551 with a 142 wRC+ in 2018, numbers that certainly are worthy of an All-Star birth.
Shin-Soo Choo, likewise, has genuinely earned his spot on the roster. He’s probably the last outfielder on the squad, but he’s still having a good season. .
Starting Pitchers (7)
Justin Verlander (starter) – Houston Astros
Luis Severino – New York Yankees
Chris Sale – Boston Red Sox
Gerrit Cole – Houston Astros
Trevor Bauer – Cleveland Indians
James Paxton – Seattle Mariners
Blake Snell – Tampa Bay Rays
Starting pitchers in the American League have been having an absolutely phenomenal year, and none more so than Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander. While he’s slightly cooled from his early season pace, he’s still the best arm in baseball with a 2.15 ERA, 2.61 FIP, an 11.03 K/9 and just a 1.72 BB/9. He’s having the best season of his career, including his amazing 2011 MVP-winning campaign.
While Corey Kluber is normally the ace of Cleveland’s rotation and is having a great season in his own right, he’s actually being outdueled by teammate Trevor Bauer. Bauer currently owns an impressive 2.45 ERA, 2.16 FIP, and an amazing 11.57 K/9 rate. He might be the best starting pitcher that nobody is talking about.
Relief Pitchers: (5)
Blake Treinen – Oakland Athletics
Aroldis Chapman – New York Yankees
Collin McHugh – Houston Astros
Craig Kimbrel – Boston Red Sox
James Pazos – Seattle Mariners
There really isn’t much separating this group of relievers. Each one is having a phenomenal season, and there are several other relievers posting similar numbers. Watching the voting process for this grouping should be fascinating.
The best reliever of this bunch has got to be Blake Treinen. While he may not get the most votes due to the city in which he plays, he’s having a season for the ages. In 35 appearances, Treinen owns an unbelievable 0.84 ERA, 1.82 FIP, and a 1.9 fWAR. While fWAR is an imperfect stat, the fact that, as a reliever, he already owns a 1.9 fWAR halfway through the season just shows how lights out he’s been.