Picking up where we left off on the 2017 NL lineup, here’s my All-Star picks for the AL.
C – Alex Avila:
Alex Avila has been one of the Tigers’ strongest hitters this season. He’s moved closer towards the three true outcomes: 17% BB% and a 30% K% to go along with 11 home runs. The fans will most likely vote for Sal Perez, who has been a stalwart behind the plate, but Avila’s 169 wRC+ is tops in the American League by far.
1B – Yonder Alonso:
Alonso has changed his launch angle this season and the results have proven fantastic. Alonso hit fly balls around 33% of the time throughout his career. Now after changing his swing, he’s hitting the ball in the air at a 51% rate. He is hitting with for more power now, too, and boasts a .281 ISO.
2B – Jose Altuve:
Houston’s second baseman is having another great year. He has taken the reigns from Robinson Cano as the top second baseman in the American League. Altuve’s strikeout rate has hit double digits this season, but it has not hurt his production. He’s no longer young and quick enough to steal 56 bases but he still is a threat to run, putting up 16 SB so this year. Furthermore, his OBP is around .400 and SLG around .520. Those numbers will play anywhere, especially at the top-heavy AL 2B spot.
3B – Jose Ramirez:
Ramirez started as the ultimate utility player for the Indians and has continued to hit well this summer. The major step up that we’ve seen from him is in the power department. He is hitting less ground balls this year, as 12.7% of his fly balls are now leaving the ball park, as opposed to the 6% he has averaged through his career. Moreover, third base is relatively weak this summer with injuries to stars like Josh Donaldson and Adrian Beltre. And, with Manny Machado underperforming, Ramirez is the clear choice.
SS – Carlos Correa:
Correa had a rough April but since then, he has posted monster numbers. His wRC+ jumped to 201 in May and held 147 in June. He has been great at the plate and leads the pack of AL SS by double digit percentage points in wRC+. Meanwhile, he is still an above average defender, adding runs in the field. Correa is the clear choice to fill out the all-Astro middle infield.
OF – Aaron Judge:
Judge has become the story in baseball this year because of how far he can hit baseballs. He leads the league in WAR with 5.0. Without Mike Trout in the league, Judge has become not only an all-star, but the clear front-runner for AL MVP. He may be due for a regression with his .411 BABIP, but if he continues to hit balls as hard as he does, maybe that BABIP is sustainable. In terms of his swing, Judge’s exit velocity is 96.9 mph this year- 1 mph faster than the next highest (Miguel Sano).
OF – George Springer:
Springer has spent some time leading off for the Astros, though he would be the third Astro in the starting lineup if I could choose the roster. And with Trout out with injury, there is room for some new faces in the AL outfield. Springer has a .937 OPS and has been pumping out runs (64) as a part of the Astros lineup. And though not a threat to steal a base, Springer has still proven to be a good fielder with some runs earned in the field.
OF – JD Martinez:
Martinez spent most of the beginning of the season on the DL, but since he has come back, has been tearing the cover off the baseball. He’s posted a 1.025 OPS and a 162 wRC+. The Tigers have been struggling, so Martinez has not gotten as much coverage as he maybe should be. He may not have shining the counting statistics because of all his missed time, but if the AL is interested in putting out the most potent lineup, they should include Martinez.
DH – Justin Smoak:
Smoak has been hitting for a ton of power this year. He has 22 home runs and his slugging% is nearing .600, contributing to a wOBA nearing .400. Only 5 AL hitters are hitting at that rate this summer. Furthermore, Smoak’s park adjusted Runs Created are at 56 at the time of this article. Given these numbers, Smoak definitely deserves a spot on the roster at the very minimum, but I personably believe he should get the starting spot at the DH position for the AL.
These players round out the 18 who deserve to be 2017 All-Stars. You never know for sure who baseball fans will vote for, but both statistical and anecdotal evidence side with those mentioned above. Disagree? Tweet us @SABGroupIU.
Sports Analytics and Business at Indiana University
Image courtesy of New York Post