By Paul Casella
Even with 66 players being named All-Stars earlier this week and another 10 still in the running as Final Vote candidates, there are still plenty of All-Star-caliber players left over.
This is by no means a list of All-Star snubs. The vast majority of deserving players were indeed named to the All-Star team in their respective leagues, albeit with a few exceptions.
Instead, this is simply a best-of-the-rest team, consisting of one player at each position (regardless of league), as well as a starting pitching staff and a closer. It's entirely possible someone on this list could fill in for an injured All-Star player, such as Alex Gordon. But until such an announcement, here's our list.
Catcher: Brian McCann, Yankees
McCann has enjoyed a bit of a bounce-back season in the Bronx, posting numbers that are actually right on par with the ones he racked up in 2013 when he was last an All-Star. That said, this year's All-Star Game is not taking place at hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium, delivering a significant blow to McCann's potential All-Star value. The veteran catcher is hitting an incredible .321/.411/.651 in 30 home games this season, compared to just .212/.267/.318 on the road. Not to mention, 29 of his 36 home runs since the start of last season have come at the bandbox that is Yankee Stadium.
First baseman: Joey Votto, Reds
Anthony Rizzo and Adrian Gonzalez were both deserving All-Stars in the National League, but Reds veteran Joey Votto certainly deserves to be in the discussion. While it's tough to campaign for Votto over either of the other choices, he's not a bad next option by any means. Following an injury-plagued 2014, Votto is hitting .281/.390/.492 and is on pace for 30 home runs, which would be his second most in any season.
Second baseman: Kolten Wong, Cardinals
Minnesota's Brian Dozier would be the front-runner here, but he's at least in the running to be an All-Star as a Final Vote candidate. As for Wong, he entered play Wednesday leading all NL second basemen in home runs, while also being tied for the lead in extra-base hits and second behind only Howie Kendrick in RBIs. Although reserves DJ LeMahieu and Joe Panik are having impressive seasons in their own right, nobody would have raised an eyebrow had Wong gotten the nod over either one.
Third baseman: Justin Turner, Dodgers
Turner has thrived in his new role as the Dodgers' starting third baseman in recent months -- and could have actually been in the running to start the All-Star Game had he held that role from Opening Day. The one knock against Turner is that he didn't become an everyday third baseman until early May, but he's flourished ever since. Despite the limited opportunity, Turner's 3.0 FanGraphs WAR ranks third among NL third basemen behind only Todd Frazier (4.0) and Kris Bryant (3.5), while his .939 OPS is tops among all third basemen, regardless of league.
Shortstop: Carlos Correa, Astros
Shortstop is one of the thinnest positions across the Majors, which makes Correa's recent rise all the more exciting. The fact that he didn't make his debut until June 8 is the only thing keeping him out of the All-Star Game. Since his debut, Correa has hit seven home runs, while no other shortstop has more than four in that span. Along with homers, he also is either leading or tied for the lead among all shortstops in extra-base hits, RBIs, runs scored and slugging percentage since his debut. Most telling, perhaps, is the fact that Correa has accumulated a 1.5 WAR in just 27 games. To put that in perspective, Xander Bogaerts leads all AL shortstops with a 2.3 WAR -- and Bogaerts has played in three times as many games.
Outfielders: Mookie Betts (Red Sox), Charlie Blackmon (Rockies), Kevin Kiermaier (Rays)
Blackmon made his first All-Star appearance last year and is following it up with arguably an even better 2015 campaign. The Rockies' all-around threat has the highest WAR among all non-All-Star selections, having already racked up 11 homers and 21 stolen bases. Before anyone points to his home ballpark, know that eight of Blackmon's 11 homers have actually come on the road.
As for Betts, he seems to be hitting his stride atop the Red Sox lineup after a slow start. He's hitting .305/.349/.507 since May 5 and an even more robust .372/.415/.651 over 20 games since June 16 when he was moved back into one of the top two spots in Boston's order.
As for the somewhat unorthodox selection of Kiermaier: For starters, Kiermaier's 3.1 WAR ranks ahead of AL All-Star outfielders Jose Bautista, Adam Jones and Alex Gordon, as well as Final Vote candidates Yoenis Cespedes and Brett Gardner. In fact, the only AL outfielders with a higher WAR than Kiermaier are Mike Trout, J.D. Martinez and Lorenzo Cain. That's it. Kiermaier has been the best defensive player in baseball this year, regardless of position, and has racked up a Major League-best 20 defensive runs saved. No other AL player, at any position, has more than even 11 DRS.
Designated hitter: Alex Rodriguez, Yankees
It's not often a three-time MVP and 14-time All-Star is left out of the Midsummer Classic despite reaching a significant career milestone in the season's first-half, all while ranking among the top 15 in his respective league in home runs, slugging percentage and OPS. Yet that's the case with Rodriguez, who's omission obviously comes amidst extenuating circumstances. All peripheral issues aside, Rodriguez's numbers deserve All-Star consideration. Not to mention, who wouldn't tune in just to see the reaction when his name is announced in the pregame ceremonies?
Starting pitchers: Scott Kazmir (A's), Corey Kluber (Indians), Cole Hamels (Phillies), Lance Lynn (Cardinals) and Jake Arrieta (Cubs)
The fact that Clayton Kershaw didn't make the initial NL team and is instead a Final Vote candidate tells you just how stacked the All-Star pitching staffs are. With that in mind, there are plenty of worthy candidates left over for this list -- and enough to fill out yet another pitching staff afterward.
Despite his record, Kluber remains one of the more dominant pitchers in baseball, ranking first in the Majors in strikeouts and second in WAR behind only Max Scherzer. As for the rest of the group, Kazmir is having an even better season than when he was named an All-Star in his impressive comeback campaign a season ago (hopefully, a tweaked triceps muscle he suffered on Wednesday night shouldn't keep him out too long), and Hamels continues to pitch well amidst endless trade speculation. Arrieta, meanwhile, ranks third among all NL pitchers in WAR and Lynn checks in at No. 10, seven spots ahead of All-Star teammate Michael Wacha.
Closer: Drew Storen (Nationals)
Filling out the rest of the pitching staff is never an easy task, especially in this era of specialized bullpens. While a shutdown late-inning relievers such as Houston's Will Harris (0.93 ERA in 38 2/3 IP) can certainly make a case for an All-Star selection, the nod here goes to Storen. Mets closer Jeurys Familia -- where would the Mets be without him? -- would undoubtedly be the selection here if he were not a Final Vote candidate. Storen, though, has had an admirable season of his own, racking up a 1.97 ERA while helping put the Nats atop the NL East with his 25 saves, second most in the NL.
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Paul Casella is a Sports on Earth contributor and a reporter for MLB.com.