Mike Ricchione’s All-Star Selections

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Nationals Park

The 2018 MLB All-Star Game will take place in our nation’s capital. Quite fitting for America’s Pastime.

One of my favorite parts of the midsummer classic doesn’t even take place during All-Star week.

Despite not being able to vote for pitchers, it’s still one of my favorite things to do.

I’ve been filling out ballots since 2007 and now starting in 2018, I’m going to let you in on who I want to see in DC

The ballots were released June 1. Without any further ado, I bring you my 2018 ballot (for now).

All stats as of June 15.

First Baseman

AL: Jose Abreu (Chicago White Sox)

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What do I look for in an All-Star?

I look for someone who can put up great numbers all around.

Hit for average, knock the ball out of the yard, and bring your teammates around to score.

As far as average, Yuli Gurriel of the Houston Astros leads all AL first baseman on the ballot batting .302. He has only hit two home runs this season.

Leading AL first baseman in home runs is Joey Gallo clobbering 17 dingers while hitting one point below the Mendoza Line (.199).

Looking at the field, I select a guy who’s due for another All-Star appearance and there isn’t a better time than the present.

I’m talking about Chicago White Sox’s Jose Abreu who hasn’t been selected to the midsummer classic since his rookie season in 2014.

Going into his fifth season, Abreu has posted at least a .290 average, 25 home runs and 100 runs batted in.

Season number five might be no different as he is batting .288 with 11 blasts and 40 driven in.

NL: Freddie Freeman (Atlanta Braves)

freddiefreeman-getty-ftr-041618jpg_1hn6kajajufvd1ih9m0z5p1c1q

Freddie Freeman has emerged as the top first baseman in the senior circuit and maybe the league as well.

Freeman is the National League’s leading hitter batting .342 with 14 home runs and 48 batted in.

Freeman is also leading the senior circuit with a 1.021 OPS.

The Braves first baseman is impressive from the batter’s box and he is equally impressive at another part of the game, defense.

Freeman has a .993 fielding percentage through 575 total chances.

Coincidentally, he also hasn’t been selected since 2014.

Second Baseman

AL: Gleyber Torres (New York Yankees)

Gleyber

We knew we’d see Gleyber Torres in the majors this season.

Since he got called up on April 22, he hasn’t wasted any time with the big club being one of the key contributors to a Yankee lineup that hasn’t reached its potential yet this season and that’s scary.

Torres has proved that he doesn’t plan on going back to AAA anytime soon with a .295/.351/.577 slash line along with a .928 OPS, 13 home runs and 33 driven in.

He is a leading candidate for AL Rookie of the Year and has received AL Rookie of the Month honors in May.

NL: Scooter Gennett (Cincinnati Reds)

Scooter

Scooter Gennett has emerged as the elite Second Baseman in the NL.

Is he the replacement for Brandon Phillips however?

He is arbitration eligible next year and will turn 30 in 2020.

That’s another question for another time.

For the time being, enjoy who is most likely you lone All-Star Reds fans.

Gennett is batting .341/.378/.550 with 12 dingers and 47 batted in.

Shortstop

AL:  Manny Machado (Baltimore Orioles)

manny-machado-trade-rumors

Manny Machado is up there with the best as far as Shortstops in the MLB let alone the American League.

The Midsummer Classic will be in our Nations Capital with the host team’s natural rival, Baltimore Orioles not too far away. Expect a ton of votes for Machado due to the proximity of the team and the game.

Not only that but it’s most likely one of his last moments in an Orioles uniform.

Just like Gennett and the Reds, Machado will most likely be the lone representative for the O’s.

Machado is hitting .307 with 18 home runs and 50 RBI’s for the team in the basement of the AL East.

NL: Brandon Crawford (San Francisco Giants)

crawford-smiling-usatsi

The NL West is the tightest division in baseball and it’s going to be interesting to see who comes out on top.

To keep competitive, the Giants are going to need Brandon Crawford healthy as he has put up good numbers offensively and defensively.

Crawford is hitting .328/.379/.513 with eight home runs and 32 driven in.

Defensively, he has a fielding percentage of .986 which is sixth amongst shortstops and leads the same group with a 4.32 range factor.

Third Baseman

AL: Jose Ramirez (Cleveland Indians)

J.Ramirez

Jose Ramirez was an All-Star in 2017 and now since Machado has moved to short, he could very well make his first start in the midsummer classic.

Ramirez is quickly approaching his career-high in home runs, 29, already clobbering 20 of them.

Ramirez sports a .995 OPS while batting .292/.384/.611 and driving in 46.

NL: Nolan Arenado (Colorado Rockies)

Nolan Arenado, Justin Turner

Nolan Arenado is the complete package.

A 3x All-Star, 3x Silver Slugger, winner of a Platinum Glove and the leader who the Rockies needed to make themselves relevant again.

2018 is no exception for him as he posts a .305/.399/.532 slash line with 12 homers and 35 batted in.

Arenado also supports a .931 OPS and a 0.92 groundout/air out ratio.

Defensively, Arenado’s .979 fielding percentage is tied for third amongst third baseman.

Catcher

AL: Wilson Ramos (Tampa Bay Rays)

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We all knew that the AL East would be end up a battle between the Yankees and the Red Sox and maybe the Blue Jays.

The Rays have been surprising this year however and currently are ahead of Toronto who were supposed to be the dark horses in the AL East. Not to mention, they’re only four games below .500.

The Rays can thank Wilson Ramos for his leadership behind the plate so far this season.

At the plate, Ramos is batting .282 with eight home runs and 33 RBI’s.

Defensively, he has a .995 fielding percentage and a range factor of 8.32

NL: JT Realmuto (Miami Marlins)

Realmuto

As we discussed earlier with Gennett and Machado, JT Realmuto is most likely the lone representative for the Fish in the 89th annual Midsummer Classic.

An All-Star nod for Realmuto will increase his trade value and hopefully more prospects fed into the Miami farm system.

Realmuto in 2018 is hitting .303 with seven homers and 22 RBIs in 48 games.

Behind the plate, Realmuto has 22 Assists and has thrown out 10 of 24 base stealers.

Designated Hitter

AL: JD Martinez (Boston Red Sox)

JD Martinez

JD Martinez is dominating the other DH’s in the league.

There’s no one close to the numbers he is putting up.

Martinez posts a .317/.388/.651 slash line while only one homer behind Mike Trout’s 23 and leading the league in RBI’s with 55.

His 1.039 OPS is good for third in the majors behind teammate Mookie Betts and yet again, Mike Trout.

Outfielders

AL: Mookie Betts (Boston Red Sox) Mike Trout (Los Angeles Angels) and Aaron Judge (New York Yankees)

What an outfield. All three of these guys are in the top 10 in OPS in the entire MLB.

All three have above average gloves.

In fact, Mike Trout has been impeccable with his glove.

This type of outfield construction can only be found at the All-Star game and it deserves to be shown in our nation’s capital.

Trout, continuing to be the five-tool player he is isn’t only making plays in the outfield but he is also leading the league with 23 dingers and his 1.130 OPS is second behind Betts.

Betts is leading the majors in both average and OPS batting .345 with a 1.149 OPS.

Judge is the lighter hitting out of the three only hitting .275 but along with his OPS, his 18 blasts and 46 RBI’s are also in the top 10.

NL: Matt Kemp (Los Angeles Dodgers), Brandon Nimmo (New York Mets) and Nick Markakis (Atlanta Braves)

Ok this most definitely isn’t the starting outfield in the senior circuit. I know that.

This isn’t me predicting the starters though, this is my selections, and this is the outfielders I have enjoyed.

Matt Kemp has at age 33 has been a pleasant surprise for the Dodgers putting up numbers we haven’t seen since his last All-Star season in 2012.

Kemp is batting .335/.367/.555 with a .922 OPS along with 10 home runs and 41 RBI’s.

As for Markakis, he is playing his best baseball at age 34.

He has always been a solid player but he has never been an All-Star.

Give it to him, he deserves it as he is in the top 10 in hitting with a .325 average and being one of the key contributors to another surprise, the Atlanta Braves themselves.

Brandon Nimmo isn’t on the ballot but you can write him in. He has been a constant in a Mets offense that has been inept and as a Mets fan, he has been the most exciting thing to watch (except for deGrom with or without hair).

Nimmo is batting .265/.403/.555 with a .958 OPS while clobbering nine home runs and driving in 16.

Nimmo sprints on walks. On … walks! His smile is infectious and makes me keep watching the Mets even though I know darn well I’ll be disappointed at the end of the night.

In all likelihood, he is probably a final vote candidate and unless another National is on the ballot, he has a good chance to win.

Mike Ricchione is a baseball enthusiast. He hosts a weekly MLB Talk Show “Rounding the Bases” which returns to 107.7 The Bronc on July 3rd in its new timeslot, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5 p.m. – 6 p.m. You can follow him on Twitter @MikeRicchione

 

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