TGG's Picks for the 2017 MLB All-Stars

Up is down and down is up—yet Eric and Ed wade through the aftermath of the unexpected and make their picks for the 2017 All-Star Game.

By Eric Gouldsberry and Ed Attanasio, This Great Game
Posted June 29, 2017

This Great Game Opinion.

Well, well. What a surprise it was to see the voting results for this year’s All-Star selections and see that there was actually some education at work. Popularity and reputation seems to have taken a back seat to some actual, worthy considerations. Even more heartening, we don’t have a case of fans in one major league team running amok and punching the ballot boxes over and over again for their team favorites, like we’ve seen in the past couple of years with fans in Kansas City and Chicago.

Part of what’s going on this year is that the fans have noticed the near-seismic shift in baseball’s balance of power, both individually and by team. Popular names such as Jose Bautista, Miguel Cabrera, Giancarlo Stanton and Manny Machado are buried deep in the vote, while Aaron Judge, Justin Smoak, Zack Cozart and Corey Dickerson—guys who a year ago were barely on anyone’s radar—could very well end up getting starting assignments at Marlins Park on July 11.

This Bizarro effect, an extension of the highly unexpected results in the standings to date—with clubs like the Giants, Cardinals, Mets and even the Cubs recoiling on their heels while the Twins, Brewers, Diamondbacks and Rockies are feeling the playoff bug—has likely played a big role in the sudden sanity of the vote. It all would have been so insane just three months ago, on the eve of Opening Day. But that’s the beauty of this great game, folks.

So from this upheaval, Ed Attanasio and I have come up with our picks for the Midsummer Classic. See if you agree. —Eric

Catcher, National League
Ed's choice: Buster Posey, San Francisco
Eric's choice: Buster Posey, San Francisco
The Voters' choice: Buster Posey, San Francisco
There’s very little debate here. Amid a pot-marked landscape tattered with the various failings of the 2017 Giants, Posey has quietly stood out both offensively and defensively; he has clearly taken the torch from Yadier Molina as the game’s best backstop.

Catcher, American League
Ed's choice: Salvador Perez, Kansas City
Eric's choice: Salvador Perez, Kansas City
The Voters' choice: Salvador Perez, Kansas City
Unlike Posey, there was a little hesitation before making the kneejerk decision for Perez, with Gary Sanchez providing nice sophomore panache and Alex Avila in the midst of a resurgence at the plate. But Perez still represents a better package than anyone in the AL.

First Base, National League
Ed's choice: Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona
Eric's choice: Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona
The Voters' choice: Ryan Zimmerman, Washington
This is the fifth straight year I’ve picked Goldschmidt (almost ditto for Ed, who strayed once toward Anthony Rizzo), and such loyalty comes from the fact that he packs the best numbers, year in and year out. Goldschmidt has been handicapped by playing in the relatively obscure environment of Arizona—but with the Diamondbacks shooting out to a strong start, there should be no reason for voters to balk. Yet they like the renaissance that is Ryan Zimmerman, so there you are.

First Base, American League
Ed's choice: Justin Smoak, Toronto
Eric's choice: Justin Smoak, Toronto
The Voters' choice: Justin Smoak, Toronto
This is probably the most upside-down race, with the usual star suspects (Miguel Cabrera, Chris Davis, Carlos Santana) producing mild-mannered numbers compared to guys like Smoak, Yonder Alonso and Logan Morrison, all of whom are having out-of-body experiences compared to their pre-2017 baseball lives. We side with Smoak, who at this stage is having the best of all the breakout performances.

Second Base, National League
Ed's choice: Daniel Murphy, Washington
Eric's choice: Daniel Murphy, Washington
The Voters' choice: Daniel Murphy, Washington
Another cinch, as the hits keep coming for Murphy—proving that his stunning 2016 campaign was no fluke.

Second Base, American League
Ed's choice: Jose Altuve, Houston
Eric's choice: Jose Altuve, Houston
The Voters' choice: Jose Altuve, Houston
The fans are giving Altuve the landslide treatment, and we concur—though for us it’s a much tighter decision given the fine numbers thus far put up by Starlin Castro and Jonathan Schoop. Still, it’s Altuve, if for anything else because he’s the flashiest of the group.

Third Base, National League
Ed's choice: Nolan Arenado, Colorado
Eric's choice: Nolan Arenado, Colorado
The Voters' choice: Nolan Arenado, Colorado
The third base debate pitting Arenado against Bryant is starting to reach the heights of the Mantle-Snider-Mays center field arguments of the 1950s. These two guys always seem to be neck-and-neck for all the third base honors. We all take the Arenado side of the argument—principally because his defense is second to none among all major leaguers.

Third Base, American League
Ed's choice: Jose Ramirez, Cleveland
Eric's choice: Jose Ramirez, Cleveland
The Voters' choice: Jose Ramirez, Cleveland
Ed and I are starting to think so much alike, it’s scary. Especially here, where it’s a bit of a toss-up between Ramirez, with as complete an effort seen so far among AL third sackers, and Sano, who understandably seduced many voters with his impressive power numbers before Ramirez won out with them as well. He won us over as well.

Shortstop, National League
Ed's choice: Corey Seager, Los Angeles
Eric's choice: Zack Cozart, Cincinnati
The Voters' choice: Zack Cozart, Cincinnati
Hark, a disagreement! Not surprising, because Ed, the Dodgers fan, might be naturally bending toward his guy in Seager. And while he has a good argument, it’s tough when looking at what Cozart has managed in a terrific comeback showing, both offensively and defensively. Surprisingly, the voters opt for the more small-market option in Cozart. (Or could it be yet another case of ballot-stuffing in Cincinnati?)

Shortstop, American League
Ed's choice: Carlos Correa, Houston
Eric's choice: Elvis Andrus, Texas
The Voters' choice: Carlos Correa, Houston
Okay, so we don’t have consensus here, either, but we’re close—as in, within the state of Texas close. Ed sides with the public and goes for Correa, who’s sparking it back up after a quiet (but nice) 2016, but in my mind Andrus is—here we go again—the complete package. His speed and defense has been expert, and he’s thrown a little power in as well.

Outfield, National League
Ed's choice: Charlie Blackmon, Colorado; Marcell Ozuna, Miami; Bryce Harper, Washington
Eric's choice: Charlie Blackmon, Colorado; Marcell Ozuna, Miami; Bryce Harper, Washington
The Voters' choice: Charlie Blackmon, Colorado; Marcell Ozuna, Miami; Bryce Harper, Washington
First things first: No Cody Bellinger. Not even Ed, who bleeds Dodger Blue, is bringing him into this fold, though I get it: Is he an outfielder, a first baseman, or just supreme slugger of the universe? (That latter title, by the way, will be answered next.) Blackmon and Harper are just too easy to select here, and you gotta give the third spot to Ozuna—not only because he deserves it, but because he’s the home guy this season with the All-Star Game being played at Marlins Park.

Outfield, American League
Ed's choice: Aaron Judge, New York; Mookie Betts, Boston; Corey Dickerson, Tampa Bay
Eric's choice: Aaron Judge, New York; George Springer, Houston; Mike Trout, Los Angeles of Anaheim
The Voters' choice: Aaron Judge, New York; George Springer, Houston; Mike Trout, Los Angeles of Anaheim
There’s no jury deadlock on the issue of Judge, who’s come out of nowhere to become, to answer the earlier question, the game’s supreme slugger of the universe. From there, Ed and I are in a different world; he likes Betts, a pick which I would have made a year ago, and Dickerson, who’s hitting great—but has played mostly as a DH. I go with Trout, never mind that he’s been hurt—even at 50%, he’s better than 95% of everyone else. Springer also gets my nod, though I weighed his performance against that of the White Sox’ Avisail Garcia—and I had them even until I saw that Garcia had already committed nine errors in the outfield. The voters seem to echo my sentiments.

Designated Hitter, American League
Ed's choice: Nelson Cruz, Seattle
Eric's choice: Corey Dickerson, Tampa Bay
The Voters' choice: Nelson Cruz, Seattle
Since Ed already lapped up Dickerson for the outfield, he’ll opt with Cruz, the more established name on this list—certainly more name-worthy than Dickerson, who’s proving that life after Coors Field hasn’t softened his swing. That Dickerson is a close second to Cruz in the popular vote is impressive in itself, since the words “obscurity” and “Tampa Bay” are about as synonymous as it gets in baseball these days.

Starting Pitcher, National League
Ed's choice: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles
Eric's choice: Max Scherzer, Washington
Yes, Scherzer has fewer wins and, oh, more walks than Kershaw, but he’s also got a healthy lead among all major leaguers in ERA and WHIP while only Chris Sale has struck out more. I could keep ripping Ed for choosing Dodgers, but I know at some point he’s going to throw the “Look at how awful the Giants are” card at me any moment.

Starting Pitcher, American League
Ed's choice: Chris Sale, Boston
Eric's choice: Dallas Keuchel, Houston
Ed likes the flair of Sale and he is a good choice to be sure, but the sabermetric in me has me searching elsewhere. Look at Keuchel, who’s been on the shelf but with a 9-0 record and 1.67 ERA gets my nod more as a symbolic gesture—because he’s not likely to be ready to pitch by July 11. Beyond that, I’m sold on Sale.

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