Baseball

Picking One All-Star for Each AL Team

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One of baseball’s more controversial rules is that all 30 Major League Baseball teams must be represented in the All-Star Game. Following this rule, let’s look at a likely all-star for each MLB team, beginning with the American League. All stats are accurate as of June 28.

Baltimore Orioles: Jorge Lopez

Lopez had an earned run average above 6.00 in his first 160 innings with the Orioles. This season, he has been one of the best relievers in the sport. He has 13 saves, and he has worked to the tune of a 0.75 ERA. Lopez has a WHIP of 0.806 and a FIP of 2.38. He has yet to allow a home run in 36 innings. The Orioles might not be a one-bid team with Austin Hays’s breakout season, but Lopez deserves a nod regardless of the rule.

Boston Red Sox: Rafael Devers

Devers has been on another level this season. He is slashing .333/.390/.605 with the most hits and total bases in the Majors. He also has an AL-leading 26 doubles. Devers has even been competent defensively as he has -1 DRS as opposed to the -13 he had in 2021. He is a 4.0 wins above replacement player in 72 games, and he is squarely in the crop of AL Most Valuable Player candidates behind a certain player that wears 99 in pinstripes.

Chicago White Sox: Dylan Cease

The Cease breakout is in full effect. After two solid seasons with the White Sox in 2020 and 2021, Cease has elevated his play to that of an ace. He is striking out 13.4 batters per nine innings, the best mark in baseball. Despite hitting the Majors in walks allowed, Cease has pitched to a 2.56 ERA and 2.51 FIP. He is well on his way to setting a career-high in strikeouts.

Cleveland Guardians: Jose Ramirez

Regardless of who gets the nod at third base, both Devers and Ramirez will make the All-Star Game. Ramirez leads the AL with 63 runs batted in, and he has an OPS of 1.000. He has 43 extra-base hits so far, fueling an OPS+ of 182. Ramirez has accumulated 3.3 bWAR in 67 games so far, putting him on pace for 8.1 over 162 games. He has his best batting average since 2017 to go with the best slugging mark of his career.

Detroit Tigers: Tarik Skubal

Skubal is on a bit of a slide at the moment, but he is still the best option. Even with recent struggles, he has a 3.63 ERA and 2.68 FIP. He is striking out 9.5 batters per nine innings, and his low walk rate and reduced home run rate have fueled a breakout season. Skubal is on pace to pitch about 160 innings and strike out 170 hitters. Without the All-Star Game rules, Skubal would likely be left at home, but he makes it under current rules.

Houston Astros: Justin Verlander

From a current Tiger to a Tiger legend, Verlander is back to his usual form. The eight-time All-Star is once again a Cy Young contender. He has the lowest ERA of his career and a WHIP below 0.900. While he is not quite the same strikeout artist he was before Tommy John surgery, he is still striking out 8.5 batters per nine innings. He has the lowest home run rate of his tenure with the Astros, and he is well on his way to another season with 200 innings and 200 strikeouts.

Kansas City Royals: Scott Barlow

Barlow has been an effective arm in the Royals’ bullpen. He has pitched to a 2.20 ERA across 32.2 innings. He has racked up nine saves and four holds in 29 games. Barlow has the lowest strikeout rate of his career, but he has replied by reducing his hits per nine and walks per nine. He has the best WHIP of his career with a stellar 1.071 mark. Barlow might not make the All-Star Game without the every team rule, but he makes it here.

Los Angeles Angels: Mike Trout

It’s Mike Trout.

Last year, Trout got off to a blistering pace, posting 1.8 bWAR in just 36 games. Over a full season, Trout would have 8.1 WAR. This season, Trout is on pace for 9.9 WAR which would be his best in a season since 2018. Trout has been back to his usual performance with a .286/.391/.647 slash line. He has an OPS over 1.000 for the fifth time in his career, and his 191 OPS+ in 67 games is only beaten by his 198 OPS+ in 140 games in 2018.

Minnesota Twins: Byron Buxton

Buxton is not quite at the 11.9 WAR pace he was at in 2021, but 7.7 is more than enough to be an All-Star. On June 28, he hit his 20th home run of the season, setting a new career-best. In the 156 games he has played over the last three seasons, Buxton has 52 home runs. Entering play on June 28, Buxton was slashing .233/.315/.578 and had an 8.2% home run rate. He also has the best walk rate of his career. While he has had plenty of BABIP misfortune, he has been more than an All-Star.

New York Yankees: Aaron Judge

Judge has a Major League-leading 28 home runs in 72 games played. Over 162 games, this is on pace for 63. He has a ridiculous .638 slugging percentage with a .344 ISO, one point higher than his 2017 Rookie of the Year campaign. Judge has an OPS+ of 185 and a Major League-leading 176 total bases. He also has the clutch factor, delivering key wins for the Yankees seemingly every week. Judge has been the best player in baseball in 2022.

Oakland Athletics: Paul Blackburn

It’s slim pickings for the Athletics this season, but Blackburn is the most deserving. He has an ERA of 3.12 across his first 80.2 innings pitched. He has a sturdy 118 ERA+, and he has accumulated 2.4 bWAR so far. He won’t set any strikeout records (6.9 K/9), but he does not allow many walks or home runs. Blackburn should represent the Athletics in the All-Star Game.

Seattle Mariners: Ty France

France has been an on-base machine for the Mariners in 2022. He is slashing .316/.390/.476, all marks that would set career highs. He has been his usual strong defensive self as well with +3 DRS. France has accumulated 3.0 bWAR in 70 games, putting him on pace for 6.9 over 162 games. France might not get the start at first base, but he should be a lock to feature in the Midsummer Classic.

Tampa Bay Rays: Shane McClanahan

McClanahan is on a serious triple crown watch. He leads the American League with a 1.77 ERA, and he leads the Majors with 123 strikeouts in 91.1 innings. He also leads the AL in ERA+, hits per nine, and strikeouts per walk. McClanahan leads the Majors with a WHIP of just 0.832. He is striking out 35.7% of batters faced while only walking 4.6%. He has allowed a microscopic OPS of .524. In a loaded Cy Young race, McClanahan is likely the leader at the halfway point of the season.

Texas Rangers: Martin Perez

In his first 10 MLB seasons, Perez had an ERA+ of 96 in 1,102.2 innings. This season, Perez has a 174 ERA+. Perez leads the AL with 93.1 innings pitched, and he has a 2.22 ERA to accompany that volume. He has been immune to the home run, allowing just two over his mass of innings pitched. Perez has the highest strikeout rate of his career (20.2%) as well as the lowest walk rate of his career (6.0%). Despite turning 31 just before the season began, Perez is having a breakout campaign.

Toronto Blue Jays: Alejandro Kirk

Blue Jays fans may be overzealous in voting for their players, but Kirk is the one that is 100% deserving of a trip to Los Angeles. Through 64 games, Kirk is slashing .322/.411/.525, good for an OPS+ of 166. He has +5 DRS, helping him to 3.3 bWAR and a pace of 8.3 bWAR over 162 games. Kirk walks more than he strikes out, and he has a healthy 4.2% home run rate. He should start the All-Star Game behind the plate for the American League.

Main image credit Embed from Getty Images

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Ryan Potts is an avid football and baseball fan. He covers the NFL and Major League Baseball, focusing on the Baltimore Ravens and Atlanta Braves.