The two biggest players in the MLS, Aaron Judge and Yordan Alvarez, will likely miss the game due to injuries.
Thus, the players who signed the seven biggest contracts last season – Judge ($360 million), Manny Machado ($350 million), Rafael Devers ($331 million), Trea Turner ($300 million), Xander Bogaerts ($280 million) ), Carlos Correa ($200 million) and Jacob deGrom ($185 million) — they may all be absent from the festivities at T-Mobile Park. Of that group, Judge and Degrom are the only ones who are injured. Others simply don’t perform at all-star levels.
Oh, but that’s not all. Three other $300 million players – Francisco Lindor, Bryce Harper and Giancarlo Stanton – are unlikely to be All-Stars. Same for the pitchers with the two highest median salaries in game history at $43.33 million, Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander.
You know what the owners are thinking:
Give us a salary cap! Protect us from ourselves!
Sorry about the instantaneous conversion, I couldn’t help myself. As my mind wandered, I was also thinking Commissioner Rob Manfred should complete his heel turn with the A’s fans and announce that the team won’t get an All-Star this year. “Seeing how nobody shows up in the park,” Manfred might snort, “no one will care.” But nope, I’m not about to give the commissioner any thoughts about denying Esturie Ruiz his own right. Or Ryan Noda, for that matter.
The A’s will get an All-Star, and in my picks, that’s all the Mets and Cardinals get, too, with the Yankees likely to end up with the same number if Judge gets out. Crazy, right? Sure, but the sport is still full of great players, and it’s still full of star power.
It is always difficult to put together two teams of 32 according to ASG rules. Each roster must consist of 20 position players and 12 pitchers. Every major league club should be represented, even those with winning percentages well below Luis Aries’ batting average.
The collective bargaining agreement enables Manfred to name additional players to each league’s roster as “Legends Picks” in recognition of those players’ career accomplishments. Miguel Cabrera, one of last year’s picks along with Albert Pujols, could theoretically be selected again, but that would be a little weird. Adam Wainwright, who like Cabrera has announced he will retire at the end of the season, would also be a questionable pick, considering his ERA is 6.56.
You know what would be cool, even though the CBA doesn’t cover it? If Manfred had the ability, in seasons lacking clear Legends selections, he would name exciting young players to teams instead. The Orioles’ Gunnar Henderson, Marlins’ Yuri Perez, Reds’ Eli de la Cruz, Matt McClain and Andrew Abbott will be just some of the possibilities this year.
My choices again are a bit of a mixed bag. I don’t simply honor first half performances. I also don’t ignore it. In close calls between popular and lesser known players, I tend to go for the bigger name. It’s an all-star game. It’s entertainment. It’s not Wins Above Replacement ratings.
Bold beginners. As always, direct your anger to the comments section below, or to my Twitter account, @employee. One thing, though: let’s calm down on “Not even a noticeable omission?” complaints this year. If your only problem with this column is a player I haven’t included in this section, you’ve already won!
First Piece (2)
Yandy Diaz, Rice; Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Blue Jays.
Notable Omissions: Nathaniel Lowe, Rangers; Ryan Noda, a.
Guerrero, Lowe, and Noda are all in the same .800 range in OPS, so I’ll go with the established star.
second rule (2)
Marcus Semin, Rangers; Jose Altuve, Astros.
Notable omissions: none.
I know, I know: Altuve didn’t come into season until May 19th, and Altuve wasn’t old yet. But which second baseman will you lead? The Guardians’ Andres Jimenez, the Blue Jays’ Whit Merrifield, and the Yankees’ Jiliber Torres are all roughly league level in terms of offense or less.
Beau Bechet, Blue Jays; Corey Seager, Rangers, Wanderer Franco, Rays.
Notable omissions: none.
Seager has the best offensive numbers, but has been out for more than five weeks with a left hamstring injury, while Bichette has only missed one game all season. Curiously, Carlos Correa of the Twins, Javier Baez of the Tigers, and Tim Anderson of the White Sox don’t perform well enough to qualify for the notable omission.
Third rule (3)
Jose Ramirez, Guardians; Matt Chapman, Blue Jays; Isaac Paredes, Rice.
Notable Omissions: Josh Jung, Rangers; Rafael Devers, Red Sox.
Young, like his colleague Nathaniel Lowe, has a strong case. Defensively he was higher than Paredes, but he wasn’t very good in attack. Most of Chapman’s attacks came in April, but his defensive metrics are still strong.
Adleyrutschman, Orioles; Jonah Heim, Rangers.
Notable Omission: Salvador Perez, Royals.
Rutschman vs. Heim as the start is a coin flip, but I go with Rutschman because he was the driving force behind the Orioles revival. Since his arrival on May 21, 2022, the Orioles have led 29 games over . 500. budding star
Aaron Judge, Yankees; Mike Trout, The Angels; Randy Arosarina, Ray; Louis Robert Jr., White Sox; Alex Verdugo, Red Sox; Esteore Ruiz, a.
Notable Omissions: Adolis Garcia, Rangers; Austin Hayes, Orioles; Kevin Kiermayer, Blue Jays; Josh Lowe, Rise; Julius Rodriguez, Mariners; Masataka Yoshida, Red Sox.
Hayes, third in the league in hits and seventh in OPS, would be my choice to replace the injured judge. Ruiz over Noda because the A’s pick is close, but give me the guy with 40 stolen bases. Some in the analytics crowd will howl at Ruiz’s 0.650 OPS, but with runners in scoring position, it jumps to 0.935. Whatever it is, I just want to see the dude run if the game is on the line in the ninth.
designated hitter (2)
Shuhei Ohtani, Angels; Jordan Alvarez, Astros.
Alvarez’s injury created an opportunity for another player in the position. Garcia Rangers, one of the best hitter and fullback, would be my choice.
jugs (12 plus ohtani)
Shane McClanahan, Ray; Lewes Castle, Mariners; Gerrit Cole, Yankees; Nathan Ivaldi, Rangers; Kevin Gossman, Blue Jays; Sonny Gray are twins; Edward Rodriguez, Tigers; Framper Valdez, Astros; Felix Baptiste, Orioles; Kano illuminates, the Orioles; Aroldis Chapman, Royals; John Doran, The Twins.
Notable omissions: John Gray, Rangers; Christian Javier, Astros; George Kirby, Mariners; Joe Ryan, The Twins; Tyler Wells, Orioles; Emmanuel Class, Guardians; Clay Holmes, Yankees; Josh Spurz, Rangers; Will Smith, Rangers.
McClanahan would start in back-to-back ASGs, joining Max Scherzer, Chris Sale, and Randy Johnson as the only pitchers to score such a feat (Sale started three in a row; he and Johnson switched leagues during consecutive stints).
McClanahan would start back-to-back ASGs, joining Max Scherzer, Chris Sale, and Randy Johnson as the only pitchers to score such a feat this century (Sale started three in a row; he and Johnson switched leagues during consecutive stints).
Rodriguez has not played since May 28 due to a finger injury, but he is expected to be back before the break and is the best Tiger. Kirby and his 79-to-7 batting-to-walk ratio would be my first replacement for injury as a starter. Klass, who leads the majors with 24 saves, will be first as a reliever. Spurs? Not a household name, but no AL reliever with 15 or more looks allowed for lower OPS.
First Piece (3)
Freddie Freeman, Dodgers; Pete Alonso, Mets; Matt Olson, Braves.
Notable Omissions: Paul Goldschmidt, Cardinals; Spencer Steer, Reds; Lamonte Wade Jr., Giants; Christian Walker, Diamondbacks.
Loaded site, which is more than can be said for third base in the NL. Wade, who ranks third in the league in on-base percentage, and Walker who ranks seventh in slugging, are simply the victims of the numbers game.
second rule (3)
Luis Araz, Marlins; Kettlemart, Diamondbacks; Ozzie Albies, Braves.
Notable omission: Cerro Estrada, Giants
Arraez is third in the NL in OPS, Marte is seventh, Albies is just 30, but I’d swap with 18 homers.
Dansby Swanson, Cubs; Orlando Arcia, Braves.
Notable Omissions: Elle de la Cruz, Reds; Matt McClain, Reds; Geraldo Perdomo, Diamondbacks.
Swanson vs. Arcia is basically a game of sloppiness. I’d like to find a spot for De La Cruz, but even if there was a spot, I’d probably go for McLain, who has been with the team longer and has produced higher OPS.
Third rule (2)
Nolan Arenado, Cardinals; Ryan McMahon, Rockies.
Notable Omissions: Jeimer Candelario, Nationals; JD Davis, Giants; Manny Machado, Padres.
I kind of hate myself for fielding Arenado and not Goldschmidt, who had the best year. It’s simply a matter of first base being too deep in the NL and third base being something out of a black hole. Arenado would be the first to say that this wasn’t one of his better years, but he made it his only Cardinal.
Shaun Murphy, Braves; Will Smith, Dodgers.
Notable omission: Elías Diaz, Rocky.
The two options are probably the easiest in this whole exercise. Both would make their All-Star debuts.
Ronald Acuna Jr., Braves; Corbin Carroll, Diamondbacks; Juan Soto, parents; Mookie Betts, Dodgers; Fernando Tatis Jr., Padres; Lynn Thomas, Nationals.
Notable Omissions: Nick Castellanos, Phyllis; Lord Goriel Jr., Diamondbacks; Brandon Nimmo, Mets; Eddie Rosario, Braves; Christian Yelich, Brewers.
What a group. Some would argue with the selection of Tatis, who missed the Padres’ first 20 games while completing an 80-game suspension for violating the league’s common drug policy. But he remains a solid offensive player and a great defender in right field; You want to watch him play. Thomas, the Nationals’ offensive motivator, is my only pick from this team, though I’ve thought highly of Josiah Gray.
designated hitter (2)
JD Martinez, Dodgers; Jorge Soler, Marlins.
Notable Omissions: Bryce Harper, Phillies; Andrew McCutcheon, Pirates; Marcel Ozuna, Braves.
Martinez is second in the NL to Acuña in slugging percentage. Soler is third in the league with 21 players. Harper returned from Tommy John surgery on May 2 and hit only three homers. If someone can find a way to get McCutchen on the team, I’m all for it.
Marcus Stroman, Cubs; Bryce Elder, Brave; Zach Gallen, Diamondbacks. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers; Justin Steele, Cubs; Spencer Stryder, Braves; Logan Webb, Giants; Zack Wheeler, Phyllis; David Bednar, Hackers; Josh Hader, Padres; Alexis Diaz, Reds; Devin Williams, Brewers.
Notable omissions: Josiah Gray, Nationals; Mitch Keeler for Pirates; Merrill Kelly, Diamondbacks; Yuri Perez, Marlins; Blake Snell, Padres; Michael Washa, Padres; Jesse Chavez, Braves; Camilo Duvall, Giants; Stephen Okert, Marlins; Scott McGough, Diamondbacks; Evan Phillips, Dodgers; David Robertson Mitts.
Elder leads the NL in ERA and is ninth in innings pitched. Its peripherals aren’t great, but I wasn’t about to dismiss it. Steele and Wacha are fourth and fifth, respectively, in ERA, with similar averages, strikeouts, and walks; I could have gone either way.
I wish I could have Chavez, who is making his All-Star debut at 39, and Duval deserves it too. I couldn’t find a place for all of them. Just couldn’t find room for ’em all.
The second phase of fan polling ends Thursday afternoon. Ronald Akuna Jr. and Shuhei Ohtani earned points during Stage 1 by leading their respective leagues in votes. The rest of the starters will be revealed Thursday at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN. Finalists who do not win are not automatically added to the lists.
Player ballots will count 17 players in each league, eight pitchers (five starters and three relievers) plus one backup at each position. The commissioner’s office is responsible for selecting six additional players per league, four pitchers and two position players, but operates with limited flexibility while making sure that every team is represented. Full rosters will be announced Sunday at 5:30 PM ET on ESPN.
(Top photo of Freddie Freeman and Dansby Swanson: Michael Reeves/Getty Images)