Welcome our annual Red Sox All-Star Prospectus! MLB released its most recent update (#4) for the American League this afternoon, making it a perfect time to publish our annual prognostications.
Let’s begin this 4th edition of the RSM Prospectus with a bit of history, this exercise really began many years ago, even before the Internet existed! In those days, the Maineiacs, led by a 30-something Deacon, would spend an afternoon projecting the rosters for the all-star game while watching the Sox on WSBK simulcast on WLBZ, this was also before we had cable TV at our meeting spot, usually the living room of Annie and Chester. I’m not sure that we ever got our projects to actually match the rosters, but it was always a memorable experience and gave us younger Maineiacs a chance to do some stat searching in The Sporting News. Certainly, the task of looking at stats and coming up with projections are much easier and instantaneous today, although it is not nearly as much fun as those childhood experiences. Enough sentimentality, onto the Prospectus.
34 players will represent the American League on July 12th in San Diego for this year’s Mid-Summer Classic. In verifying that the roster size was indeed 34 players, my brain is still convinced that it is 32, I found the player selection section from the Wikipedia entry on Major League Baseball All-Star Game to be very concise and informative in its explanation of the process, take a look for yourself. Remember each team must have a representative, the fans select the starters and the final player. Players choose part of the roster while the manager (Ned Yost) will select the rest of the roster. The “I learned something new today” for me from the article was that the roster consists of 21 position players and 13 pitchers, so this is a new parameter that we will use this year (for the record, the last 3 RSM Prospectus’ have had 13, 12, and 12 pitchers named). OK, enough context, onto the All-Stars!
C Salvador Perez, Kansas City
Perez is very much in line to start his 2nd consecutive ASG as well as currently being the top overall vote getter. The fans have this one absolutely correct, as Sal is far and away the best catcher in the AL, if not all of baseball, as he leads AL backstops in nearly every offense category along with his tremendous defense and game management.
1B Eric Hosmer, Kansas City
Hosmer looks to be heading to his first All-Star appearance. With only 9 days left for fans to vote, the Royals 1st Baseman leads Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera by more than 500,000 votes. While Cabrera probably has better overall numbers than Hosmer, this is not an egregious fan vote as Hosmer is deserving of the nod as he ranks near the top in most offensive categories amongst AL 1st Basemen.
2B Jose Altuve, Houston
Altuve, like Salvador Perez, is also in line to start his 2nd consecutive ASG with a lead of more than 600,000 votes over the Mariners’ Robinson Cano. Altuve is one of many worthy candidates at the keystone position, including Cano, Detroit’s Ian Kinsler, and Boston’s Dustin Pedroia among others. It is safe to say someone is going to get snubbed at this position.
3B Manny Machado, Baltimore
Machado, while he has played more games at shortstop than 3B for the Orioles in 2016, looks like a sure thing to be the starting 3rd Baseman for the AL with a lead of more than 500,000 votes over last year’s top vote getter, Toronto’s Josh Donaldson. Machado is one of the best young talents in baseball and is deserving of the nod.
SS Xander Bogaerts, Boston
X got snubbed in last year’s All-Star game after losing out to Mike Moustakas in the final player vote is not going to be denied this year. Bogaerts has picked up where 2015 ended as a hitting machine who plays excellent defense up the middle, all of that has led to being the 4th highest vote getter to date and a lead of more than 1 million votes over KC’s Alcides Escobar. Xander can solidify his plans to meet up with old friend Don Orsillo in San Diego in a couple weeks.
LF Mike Trout, Los Angeles
CF Jackie Bradley Jr, Boston
RF Mookie Betts, Boston
The outfield positions are always a close vote. Trout is a lock as he is one of the poster boys for MLB and the 3rd highest vote getter, this would mark his 4th consecutive ASG start. The pair of Sox OFers are in a voting race for the final 2 starting spots, as they along with KC’s Lorenzo Cain, Baltimore’s Mark Trumbo, and Toronto’s Jose Bautista are within 425,000 votes of each other. Currently, Bradley and Betts are 2nd and 3rd among AL outfielders but Cain and Bautista have voting history on their side as each have been wildly popular among fans especially fan bases that love to stuff the ballot box. If any of the 3 non Sox listed have chances to overtake the JBJ and Mookie in the last 9 days of voting it is Cain and Bautista (who is currently on the DL). Let’s get to the voting booths Sox Nation and make all 3 of the B boys make it to San Diego.
DH David Ortiz, Boston
Big Papi has a big lead in the DH voting, leading by nearly 1.8 million votes. Ortiz is having arguably his greatest season in a Sox uniform on his final ride, what better way to celebrate the big man than by sending him to his 10th all-star game. Of course, a 4th World Series title would be better but let’s not put the cart before the horse.
C Stephen Vogt, Oakland and Matt Wieters, Baltimore
Brian McCann, New York
Overall, the catching position in the AL is sub-par. After Perez, Vogt and Wieters are the next best offensive catchers although a nod to Brian McCann as the lone Yankee might be in the cards.
1B Miguel Cabrera, Detroit
Chris Davis, Baltimore, Hanley Ramirez, Boston, Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto, Jose Abreu, Chicago, Mike Napoli, Cleveland
As we mentioned in the starters section, a strong case can be made for Cabrera as the best AL 1B and his selection is not in doubt. This is a spot where we could find another All-Star being selected perhaps at the cost of a 3rd catcher, however with Vogt and to come Mark Trumbo being selected with the ability to play 1st base we’ll stick with taking just Miggy.
2B Robinson Cano, Seattle and Ian Kinsler, Detroit
Dustin Pedroia, Boston, Rougned Odor, Texas, Jason Kipnis, Cleveland, Starlin Castro, New York, Jonathan Schoop, Baltimore
As we mentioned above a deserving All-Star is going to get snubbed at 2nd just based on shear volume. Any of the listed 2nd Basemen would be deserving although Castro might be a stretch. However, Cano and Kinsler are putting up the best numbers of the bunch with Pedey probably being the next closest.
3B Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay and Josh Donaldson, Toronto
Nick Castellanos, Detroit, Travis Shaw, Boston, Todd Frazier, Chicago, Kyle Seager, Seattle, Adrian Beltre, Texas, Yunel Escobar, Los Angeles, Danny Valencia, Oakland
3rd base also features many worthy candidates but we’ll take 2 from the AL East with Longoria currently on a tear perhaps sealing the lone Rays All-Star spot and last year AL MVP.
SS Eduardo Nunez, Minnesota and Franciso Lindor, Cleveland
Alcides Escobar, Kansas City, Elvis Andrus, Texas, Didi Gregorius, New York, Carlos Correa, Houston
Nunez is the most deserving Twin and will most likely be their lone representative. This is another position where the actual roster may differ from our picks as it would not be a shock to see Lindor left off the roster for a different shortstop or another 1B or OFer.
OF Mark Trumbo, Baltimore, Ian Desmond, Texas, and Carlos Beltran, New York
Michael Saunders, Toronto, Melky Cabrera, Chicago, Khris Davis, Oakland, Jacoby Ellsbury, New York, Lorenzo Cain, Kansas City, Adam Eaton, Chicago, Jose Bautista, Toronto, JD Martinez, Detroit, Nomar Mazara, Texas, Kole Calhoun, Los Angeles, George Springer, Houston
Trumbo as we mentioned is in the mix to possibly start on July 12th as he has had an outstanding 1st half. Desmond has also been a tremendous off-season signing and should be rewarded for his play with a trip to San Diego, his ability to play SS may allow for more roster flexibility too. Lastly, we’ll take Beltran as possibly the lone Yankee although their vaunted bullpen arms might find their way onto the roster as America knows how Ned Yost loves power arms out of the pen.
Victor Martinez, Detroit, Nelson Cruz, Seattle
Both of these hitters have had solid first halves to their seasons, however their lack of flexibility in the field probably keeps them off the roster.
Steven Wright, Boston, Craig Kimbrel, Boston, Chris Tillman, Baltimore, Zach Britton, Baltimore, Aroldis Chapman, New York, Alex Colome, Tampa Bay, Wade Davis, Kansas City, Kelvin Herrera, Kansas City, Danny Salazar, Cleveland, Chris Sale, Chicago, Cole Hamels, Texas, Colby Lewis, Texas, and Rich Hill, Oakland
Rick Porcello, Boston, David Price, Boston, Brad Brach, Baltimore, JA Happ, Toronto, Marco Estrada, Toronto, Aaron Sanchez, Toronto, Roberto Osuna, Toronto, CC Sabathia, New York, Masahiro Tanaka, New York, Andrew Miller, New York, Dellin Betances, New York, Edinson Volquez, Kansas City, Danny Duffy, Kansas City, Josh Tomlin, Cleveland, Cory Kluber, Cleveland, Jordan Zimmermann, Detroit, Justin Verlander, Detroit, Michael Fulmer, Detroit, Justin Wilson, Detroit, Francisco Rodriguez, Detroit, Jose Quintana, Chicago, David Robertson, Chicago, Felix Hernandez, Seattle, Steve Cishek, Seattle, Vidal Nuno, Seattle, Nick Vincent, Seattle, Martin Perez, Texas, Sam Dyson, Texas, Doug Fister, Houston, Will Harris, Houston, Ryan Madson, Oakland
Along with outfielders, pitchers are the most difficult to select as there are so many pitchers to choose from. Sale is a lock as the lone White Sox on the roster. Wright and Tillman have been tremendous and surprising All-Stars. Salazar, Hamels, Lewis, and Hill could all be passed over for bigger names as well. We have documented that Ned Yost loves to have a bullpen loaded with power arms, our roster certainly represents that with Kimbrel, Chapman, Britton, Colome, Davis, and Herrera. Although others including Will Harris, Ryan Madson, Roberto Osuna, and Andrew Miller could shuffle the deck.
So there you have the RSM 2016 All-Star Prospectus, enjoy the game on July 12th and get out to the ballot box to ensure the Sox listed make the trip!