By Cliff Corcoran
Major League Baseball's All-Star teams were announced on Sunday night, and as someone who has been critical of the process in the past, I must say the fans, players and Commissioner's office (the last replacing the league managers in the selection process) did a fine job this year.
Comparing the rosters announced Sunday night to my picks from a week and a half ago, just seven of the 31 American League All-Stars were not on my AL roster, and six of those seven received heavy consideration when I put mine together. The only AL selection that made me scratch my head was Cleveland's Michael Brantley being chosen as an outfield reserve over Kansas City's Lorenzo Cain. In the National League, just six of the 31 actual All-Stars were not on my roster, and, again, only one was a head-scratcher: Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu, who was chosen as a reserve over the three third basemen named to the NL Final Vote.
Unfortunately, only one of those third basemen -- Kris Bryant, Anthony Rendon and Justin Turner, all of whom made my NL roster -- will be an All-Star this year, while Cain was left out of the AL Final Vote entirely, as both leagues clearly prefer to have that final spot go to an extra infielder this year. Who deserves your Final Vote? Here's a breakdown of each league's ballot.
Note: Final Vote balloting is open now through 4 p.m. ET Thursday, July 6. Place your vote online here, and/or by tweeting your preferred player's hashtag (listed below) between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. ET on Thursday. All statistics below are through Sunday's games.
Elvis Andrus, SS, Rangers (#ElectElvis)
.302/.350/.475 (116 wRC+), 11 HR, 50 RBI, 50 R, 20 SB (74%), 2.6 bWAR
Xander Bogaerts, SS, Red Sox (#VoteX)
.314/.366/.455 (113), 5 HR, 39 RBI, 49 R, 9 SB (90%), 2.0 bWAR
Didi Gregorius, SS, Yankees (#sirdidi4sure)
.310/.333/.489 (115), 10 HR, 36 RBI, 29 R, 1.9 bWAR
Logan Morrison, 1B, Rays (#GoLoMo)
.256/.366/.579 (146), 24 HR, 57 RBI, 46 R, 2.7 bWAR
Mike Moustakas, 3B, Royals (#VoteMoose)
.270/.306/.547 (117), 22 HR, 49 RBI, 40 R, 1.3 bWAR
Morrison and Bogaerts both made my proposed AL roster a week and a half ago -- Morrison as the starter at first base, Bogaerts as Carlos Correa's backup. However, Andrus has hit .373/.429/.647 with four home runs and five stolen bases in six attempts since then to pull ahead of Bogaerts in the shortstop sweepstakes. Truth be told, all three of the shortstops on this ballot are having better years than Francisco Lindor (.248/.309/.457), who has already made the roster via the player's ballot, but it's difficult to begrudge Lindor that spot, given his star turn for the pennant-winning Indians last year, even though Lindor did make last year's All-Star team, as well.
The weakest candidate here is Moustakas, who is having a fine walk year, has already matched his career high in home runs and may yet be an impact player down the stretch, be it for the surging Royals or via a trade. However, Moose doesn't quite measure up to his competition on this ballot, falling way short of Morrison at the plate and lacking the defensive value of the other three. Gregorius is my daughter's favorite player, so I don't dismiss him lightly, but he lost some time to the disabled list and doesn't have the kind of track record that would motivate excusing that absence. I've already said that Andrus has pulled ahead of Bogaerts at shortstop. That brings this decision down to Andrus and Morrison.
The choice between those two will depend on your intent when voting. If you're looking to reward in-season production, Morrison's the easy choice. If you want to correct a roster snub, again, Morrison is your guy, as he has been better than fellow hot-start first basemen Justin Smoak (the AL starter voted in by the fans) or Yonder Alonso (the AL reserve voted in by the players). However, if you want to give AL manager Terry Francona the most useful roster, you might want to go with the base-stealing shortstop over the offense-only first baseman. Also, if star-power is your thing, you're going to want Andrus, who is a two-time All-Star with a beaming smile and playful on-field demeanor who has spent his entire nine-year career with a single team, helping them to five playoff berths and two pennants. LoMo is a (formerly?) failed prospect on his third team who entered this season with a career total of just 1.6 wins above replacement. Preferring to right the roster wrong, I'll go with Morrison, but I won't complain if Andrus takes the AL's final spot.
Justin Bour, 1B, Marlins (#VoteBour)
.285/.358/.550 (135 wRC+), 18 HR, 53 RBI, 31 R, 1.7 bWAR
Kris Bryant, 3B, Cubs (#VoteKB)
.263/.391/.551 (135), 16 HR, 32 RBI, 50 R, 2.4 bWAR
Anthony Rendon, 3B, Nationals (#VoteRendon)
.297/.399/.554 (146), 16 HR, 51 RBI, 43 R, 3.8 bWAR
Mark Reynolds, 1B, Rockies (#BeLikeMark)
.286/.373/.527 (118), 19 HR, 61 RBI, 45 R, 1.0 bWAR
Justin Turner, 3B, Dodgers (#VoteJT)
.382/.472/.557 (179), 7 HR, 31 RBI, 37 R, 3.6 bWAR
Blame the players' ballot for making a bad situation worse here. The fans got the third-base starter right, selecting Colorado's Nolan Arenado, but the players put in Jake Lamb as the backup despite the fact that all three of the third basemen on this list have been more valuable this season and are more accomplished in their Major League careers, as well. Lamb had a great first half last year, which went unrewarded, but he hit just .197/.283/.380 in the second half and his .282/.376/.540 (130) line this year falls short of Bryant, Rendon and Turner.
Let's be clear, this ballot is all about those three third basemen. It's not that Bour and Reynolds haven't had strong first halves, but both lose out to the third basemen in terms of first-half value, star power and roster utility. After all, the NL already has three first basemen in starter Ryan Zimmerman and reserves Paul Goldschmidt and Joey Votto, all three of whom have been head-and-shoulders above Bour and Reynolds both this year and in their careers. Bryant, Rendon and Turner, meanwhile, all have extensive experience at other positions. Bryant has played all three outfield positions and first base in all three of his Major League seasons. Rendon has made 165 Major League starts at second base, including 59 last year. Turner made starts at all four infield positions as recently as 2015 and has made at least 25 starts at each in his Major League career. There's simply no argument that I can see for either Bour or Reynolds.
As for which of the third basemen deserves this final spot most, that's a tough one. Bryant is the biggest star and the defending National League MVP, as well as a representative of the defending World Series champion Cubs, who currently have just one player on the NL roster, that being closer Wade Davis, who was not on last year's championship club. However, Turner and Rendon have both out-produced Bryant on the season. Turner's slash line is bonkers, and by far the best in the National League among players with 200 or more plate appearances. However, Turner missed three weeks with a hamstring injury and has made 67 fewer plate appearances than Rendon, who was previously snubbed in 2014, when he finished fifth in the NL MVP Award voting and won the Silver Slugger but did not make the All-Star team.
Then again, Turner is now in his fourth straight season of outstanding production for the Dodgers, hitting .309/.381/.502 (141 OPS+) since the start of the 2014 season plus .357/.471/.607 in 68 plate appearances over the past three postseasons, but he has yet to receive an All-Star nod. When I made my NL roster, I included all three third basemen, but I listed Turner first for a reason. As tough a pick as it may be, Turner is most deserving of your Final Vote.
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Cliff Corcoran is a Sports on Earth contributor and a regular guest analyst on MLB Network. An editor or contributor to 13 books about baseball, including seven Baseball Prospectus annuals, he spent the last 10 seasons covering baseball for SI.com and has also written for USA Today and SB Nation, among others.