If We Picked the 2018 MLB All-Stars...

Eric and Ed wade through the field of current baseball greatness and determine their choices for this year's All-Star Game.

By Eric Gouldsberry and Ed Attanasio, This Great Game
Posted July 8, 2018

This Great Game Opinion.

This is the time of year where Ed and I search our feelings, look at the numbers and build proper, insightful opinions on who should get the starting nods in this year’s All-Star Game. And while we pick out some star players who deserve the default selection most fans will give them, we also praise some guys flying under the radar that will lead some to respond with, “Um, ah, what?” That was probably what some of you were muttering last year when you saw names like Corey Dickerson, Justin Smoak and Zack Cozart among our 2017 choices.

But we pick with our minds, not our hearts. Sure, we can name the star player whose reputation precedes himself, but then we’ll get the inevitable “yeah, but” response from a smart-ass guy who says, “Yeah, but this other guy has the better numbers, so he deserves it!” Of course, we try not to go that route—because, in actuality, we’re those smart-ass guys.

Let us know if you agree with the following picks—or if you’ve even heard of some of these guys. —Eric

Catcher, National League
Eric's choice: J.T. Realmuto, Miami
Ed's choice: Buster Posey, San Francisco
The Voters' choice: Willson Contreras, Chicago
How about a nice, major difference of opinion to start us off? Ed goes with Posey, who the voters had as their #1 until the final week, for his deft handling of a young Giants staff (with injuries to their established starters) even as his power stroke waned to Joe Mauer-like levels. I like Realmuto, who’s impressing with better hitting and defense than Posey—to say nothing of the fact that he’s being forced to toil with a pretty bad Marlins team. But the voters disagree with both of us and go with Contreras, who at some point is supposed to be the Next Big Thing among major league catchers—though we feel he’s not quite yet put up the Big Numbers to award him the throne

Catcher, American League
Eric's choice: Wilson Ramos, Tampa Bay
Ed's choice: Wilson Ramos, Tampa Bay
The Voters' choice: Wilson Ramos, Tampa Bay
I was so tempted to stick with the Royals’ Salvador Perez, whose defense has remained stellar—but his hitting game, like so many other Kansas City players, has been one giant “meh.” So I agree with Ed and, amazingly, even the fans who’ve gone through the obscure weeds of St. Petersburg to pull out Ramos, having an excellent season at the plate for the Rays—even if his defense has been relatively subpar.

First Base, National League
Eric's choice: Freddie Freeman, Atlanta
Ed's choice: Freddie Freeman, Atlanta
The Voters' choice: Freddie Freeman, Atlanta
You gotta give it to Freeman, who’s quietly been damaging opposition while Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies have monopolized the buzz regarding the surprising Braves.

First Base, American League
Eric's choice: Matt Olson, Oakland
Ed's choice: Matt Olson, Oakland
The Voters' choice: Jose Abreu, Chicago
There’s no clear favorite here, and the voters appear to have just thrown up their hands and picked Abreu because, well, they know who he is. Ed and I get to play smart-ass men together on this one, and go with the youngster Olson, who’s really been plying his trade out of the darkness of Oakland way out west with the no-name (but not-too-shabby) A’s. And think about this; Olson’s hit over 40 homers in less than 150 games since the start of 2017.

Second Base, National League
Eric's choice: Ozzie Albies, Atlanta
Ed's choice: Scooter Gennett, Cincinnati
The Voters' choice: Javier Baez, Chicago
Echoing the NL catcher selection, here’s another three-way split that suggests that Cubs fans stuffed the ballot box late in the game. I like Albies, the flashy, rising young Atlanta star who’s done just about everything for the Braves this year. Ed goes with Gennett, who’s been putting up gaudy numbers with the Reds ever since realizing he could hit as many as four homers in a game. But the fans defer to Baez, who one could argue matches Albies in both on-field energy and the basic numbers.

Second Base, American League
Eric's choice: Jose Altuve, Houston
Ed's choice: Jose Altuve, Houston
The Voters' choice: Jose Altuve, Houston
Easy choice, with all due respect to the Yankees’ young Gleyber Torres and the A’s Jed Lowrie.

Third Base, National League
Eric's choice: Nolan Arenado, Colorado
Ed's choice: Nolan Arenado, Colorado
The Voters' choice: Nolan Arenado, Colorado
Another no-brainer. Arenado is simply the class at his position in either league.

Third Base, American League
Eric's choice: Jose Ramirez, Cleveland
Ed's choice: Jose Ramirez, Cleveland
The Voters' choice: Jose Ramirez, Cleveland
A case could be made for Alex Bregman, the evolving star at Houston, but Ramirez is just so dominant on offense—he’s hitting for average, power, walking more than he’s striking out, and is even on pace for nearly 30 steals—that you have to go with him.

Shortstop, National League
Eric's choice: Brandon Crawford, San Francisco
Ed's choice: Trevor Story, Colorado
The Voters' choice: Brandon Crawford, San Francisco
Easy pick, or so it would seem for myself and the voters; Crawford continues to sparkle on defense while posting his finest offensive numbers yet in his career. But Ed likes the (Trevor) Story so far, and while the young Rockie does have mostly superior numbers, almost all of them have been accumulated at mile-high, stat-juiced Coors Field.

Shortstop, American League
Eric's choice: Manny Machado, Baltimore
Ed's choice: Carlos Correa, Houston
The Voters' choice: Manny Machado, Baltimore
How ironic would it be for this All-Star Game to be the last with Machado wearing an Orioles uniform? With his eminent departure among baseball’s hottest topics, Machado gets the nod from myself and the voters in a field crowded with top performers, including Francisco Lindor, Xander Bogaerts and Correa—who gets Ed’s vote.

Outfield, National League
Eric's choice: Nick Markakis, Atlanta; Lorenzo Cain, Milwaukee; Matt Kemp, Los Angeles
Ed's choice: Matt Kemp, Los Angeles; Nick Markakis, Atlanta; Bryce Harper, Washington
The Voters' choice: Nick Markakis, Atlanta; Matt Kemp, Los Angeles; Bryce Harper, Washington
A curious plate of options here. Overactive Atlanta voters did their part to get Markakis in, but it was a worthy cause because he does deserves a start. Then there’s Kemp, who seemed like an afterthought coming into the season due to what had been—until 2018—a devolving career. Well, not anymore. For the third man in the outfield, I like what Cain has been able to contribute to a surprisingly good Brewers outfit, while Ed and the voters like Bryce Harper for his overall offensive production (a .210-ish batting average notwithstanding) and, well, because he’s Bryce Harper.

Outfield, American League
Eric's choice: Mike Trout, Los Angeles; Mookie Betts, Boston, J.D. Martinez, Boston
Ed's choice: Mike Trout, Los Angeles; Mookie Betts, Boston, Mitch Haniger, Seattle
The Voters' choice: Mike Trout, Los Angeles; Mookie Betts, Boston, Aaron Judge, New York
We have two-thirds consensus throughout as everyone agrees on Trout and Betts. From there, opinions vary. The fans like Judge, because after his entertaining breakout of 2017, they can’t resist the urge. I opt for Martinez, who has played his fair share of the outfield this year even though most everyone else thinks of him as a DH. Then there’s a smart option in Haniger, who Ed chooses due to his underrated work coming out of the overachieving Mariners roster.

Designated Hitter, American League
Eric's choice: Nelson Cruz, Seattle
Ed's choice: J.D. Martinez, Boston
The Voters' choice: J.D. Martinez, Boston
I already penned in Martinez for a slot in the outfield, but a lot of folks—Ed and the voters included—think of Martinez as more the DH type, which I can’t argue with. But I’m making room here for someone else, and that someone is Cruz, who may seem to be a stale choice until one realizes he’s yet again is on his way to bashing 40 home runs.

Starting Pitcher, National League
Eric's choice: Max Scherzer, Washington
Ed's choice: Max Scherzer, Washington
There’s good competition here given how Jon Lester and Aaron Nola have been throwing. But Scherzer is still the man. His ERA may be slightly higher and others may have slightly more wins, but he’s dominant when it comes to strikeouts, opposing batting average and the good ol’ WHIP.

Starting Pitcher, American League
Eric's choice: Luis Severino, New York
Ed's choice: Justin Verlander, Houston
Ed and I differ here with two top aces, and until a month ago I might have agreed that Verlander was the guy—but he’s tailed off of late, while Severino just looks better and better. It’s also hard to argue against 14-2 with Severino’s 2.12 ERA on July 8.


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