Photo courtesy of Kacey Cole
The mountains are blue!
We all know what that means. It’s almost time to head to Coors Field for the Midsummer Classic, which will be held on July 13th. The 2021 season has seen a lot of surprising performers as well as plenty of disappointing ones. Thanks to the voting format that gives fans the power to see who they want representing each league, some of those “disappointing” performers will make the ASG based on their name alone. I somewhat agree with allowing fans to pick the starters, but it always ends with several deserving players get snubbed.
Because of this, I’m submitting my ballot, which is 100% unbiased (I promise). I’ve put together two lineups with starters at every position whom I selected solely based on performance and my extremely elaborate proprietary algorithm. The comment section is wide open for debate. Tell me who I missed!
Side Note: I can’t write an ASG article without mentioning how atrocious the uniforms are this season. For the first time in the past 90 years, the AL and NL will both wear their All-Star uniforms during the game. I included pictures below, but it pained me to include that garbage in this amazing piece of writing. It seems like they were too lazy to fix the color scheme after the game was moved from Atlanta to Denver. The two button BP style jersey seems like a lackadaisical cost-saving attempt. The logos over the city font sucks. The hats are the only thing not completely disgusting about these uniforms, although they have purple accents while the jerseys don’t for some reason. I can’t wait to see these on a Goodwill rack a couple years from now.
Catcher: Salvador Perez (Kansas City)
Stat Line: 294 PA, .289/.320/.536, 18 HR, 47 RBI
Salvy has had a huge bounce-back year for the Royals. He flashed last year in the shortened season, but his offensive numbers are off the charts compared to the rest of his career numbers. Gary Sanchez has come on as of late, but this was a relatively no-brainer decision.
First Base: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Toronto)
Stat Line: 305 PA, .340/.443/.668, 23 HR, 60 RBI
Vlad Jr. is finally having the breakout year everyone has been waiting for. He’s top five in the AL in every major offensive stat and is spearheading a young Blue Jays lineup that will be scary for years to come. He’s another easy selection for the starting lineup.
Second Base: Marcus Semien (Toronto)
Stat Line: 322 PA, .277/.345/.516, 18 HR, 42 RBI, 9 SB
Semien narrowly edges out Altuve to get the start at the Keystone in Denver. It’s almost a toss-up between the two, but Semien leads by a bit in most categories at the time of this article being written. Welcome to the squad, Marcus.
Third Base: Rafael Devers (Boston)
Stat Line: 293 PA, .281/.345/.578, 18 HR, 60 RBI
Devers has returned to his 2019 form this season and has played a pivotal role for the surprising (at least to me) Red Sox. I expect to see him in this slot at least a few more times in his career.
Shortstop: Xander Bogaerts (Boston)
Stat Line: 289 PA, .326/.388/.554, 13 HR, 43 RBI
Xander edges out Bo Bichette and Carlos Correa by a decent amount, although those two are certainly having good years as well. He’s been just as important as Devers to the success of those Sox in a tough AL East this season. I can’t wait to see how that race pans out the rest of the year.
Left Field: Jared Walsh (Los Angeles)
Stat Line: 291 PA, .293/.357/.578, 18 HR, 51 RBI
Yes, Walsh is the primary first baseman for the Halos, but he’s also started 18 games for them in the outfield so I’ll give him the eligibility to start in left field at the ASG. He’s been on an absolute tear at the plate this season and doesn’t get nearly enough recognition being on the same team as Shohei and Trout. The stats speak for themself with Jared.
Center Field: Adolis Garcia (Texas)
Stat Line: 247 PA, .271/.304/.526, 18 HR, 50 RBI, 7 SB
Still technically a rookie, Garcia has been one of the most electrifying players in the AL this season. Although he is prone to strikeouts and certainly needs to be more patient at the plate, he has been one of the few bright spots on the Rangers this year. He will be a key piece to their rebuild in the years to come.
Right Field: Cedric Mullins (Baltimore)
Stat Line: 314 PA, .312/.380/.541, 13 HR, 26 RBI, 12 SB
It was agonizing to slide Cedric in the RF spot over my man Aaron Judge, but as I previously mentioned these rankings are unbiased and he’s flat-out more deserving. He’s having a hell of a year on the anemic O’s and I can’t wait to see what is to come for this guy.
Designated Hitter: Shohei Ohtani (Los Angeles)
Stat Line: 279 PA, .269/.355/.640, 23 HR, 54 RBI, 10 SB
Sho-time has been the subject of more than half of MLB’s social media posts in the 2021 season, and deservedly so. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen someone put a ball out of a Major League park so easily on such bad pitches. We’re truly blessed to watch this guy play.
Starting Pitcher: Gerrit Cole (New York)
Stat Line: 96.2 IP, 8-3, 123 K, 15 BB, 0.85 WHIP, .193 BAA
Cole is the only constant at the top of the leaderboards for the AL pitching stat leaders, so I had to go with him. You can complain about the guy allegedly using illegal substances, but I guarantee your favorite pitcher probably does too. He’s been as dominant as anyone in the AL this year and gets my nod to start out on the bump in Denver.
Relief Pitcher: Aroldis Chapman (New York)
Stat Line: 27.1 IP, 4-2, 1.98 ERA, 16 SV, 47 K, 17 BB, 1.10 WHIP, .174 BAA
As a Yankees fan, my trust issues with Chapman have been mostly resolved as a result of his performance so far this season. The fastball velo is almost back to what it was during his prime. He’s about as intimidating as it gets on the mound in the ninth inning. The only reason he’s not higher in the AL rankings for saves is because of the struggles of the Yankees.
Closer: Liam Hendriks (Chicago)
Stat Line: 31.1 IP, 3-1, 2.01 ERA, 19 SV, 49 K, 3 BB, 0.77 WHIP, .179 BAA
Liam Hendriks has simply been doing Liam Hendriks things in 2021. I was concerned his move to a more hitter-friendly park would cause a decline in his performance, but his stats are almost identical to the 2020 season. He’s the best closer in the AL right now and is in this spot because of it.
Catcher: Buster Posey (San Francisco)
Stat Line: 206 PA, .322/.408/.556, 12 HR, 27 RBI
Buster Posey is looking almost like 2012 MVP Buster Posey this season. What I find most impressive about his stats so far is how he’s on track to break his career highs in HR and OPS with way fewer games played. His offensive production has been key in the surprise NL West leaders in the Giants, not to mention his contributions behind the plate.
First Base: Max Muncy (Los Angeles)
Stat Line: 248 PA, .262/.419/.523, 14 HR, 33 RBI
Muncy is having a very solid year at the plate and has shown an uncanny ability to get on base by any means as evidenced by his .419 OBP. A down year from reigning MVP Freddie Freeman helps catapult Muncy into the starting position for my NL starting lineup.
Second Base: Adam Frazier (Pittsburgh)
Stat Line: 313 PA, .324/.390/.463, 3 HR, 27 RBI
This is certainly one of the more surprising picks for the starting lineup, but second base in the NL isn’t the strongest. He narrowly edges out Ozzie Albies and Jake Cronenworth because even though he only checks in with three bombs on the year, he still has a healthy lead over the two in the OPS column. A surprising year from Frazier earns him a surprising spot in my lineup. Congrats, Adam!
Third Base: Kris Bryant (Chicago)
Stat Line: 280 PA, .278/.364/.522, 14 HR, 40 RBI
Although he’s been used in the outfield more than third base by the Cubs in 2021 so far, I still look at third as his primary position. I also try to make these lineups as strong as possible, so a loaded NL outfield leads to some position flexibility here. Nonetheless, Kris is almost back to looking like his old MVP self and has been a crucial piece in the Cubs’ puzzle. He narrowly edges out Justin Turner at the hot corner.
Shortstop: Fernando Tatis Jr. (San Diego)
Stat Line: 240 PA, .285/.367/.667, 22 HR, 50 RBI, 14 SB
Fernando is about as no-brainer as it gets here at shortstop. There’s not really much I can say about this decision. I’ll personally mail a drug test to anyone who wants to dispute this.
Left Field: Jesse Winker (Cincinnati)
Stat Line: 289 PA, .333/.405/.597, 17 HR, 45 RBI
Winker came on strong in 2020 and has continued that momentum into another great 2021 campaign. I’m not sure many folks would have seen him being an ASG starter coming into the year, but there’s a very good shot at that happening with him currently being the third highest outfielder in the fan votes.
Center Field: Ronald Acuña (Atlanta)
Stat Line: 297 PA, .285/.394/.602, 20 HR, 45 RBI, 15 SB
Ronnie has been as good as advertised in 2021 on a Braves team that has not. Similar to Tatis Jr., he’s a face of the game and 100% deserves to be in the starting lineup for the NL without explanation.
Right Field: Nicholas Castellanos (Cincinnati)
Stat Line: 292 PA .340/.394/.582, 13 HR, 38 RBI
As entertaining as it’s been to watch this guy rake, it’s been even more entertaining to watch his antics on the field. He’s keeping the game fun to watch with both his performances and personality and I’m giving him a no-doubt nod for the right field slot on the NL squad.
Relief Pitcher: Craig Kimbrel (Chicago)
Stat Line: 29.1 IP, 1-2, 0.61 ERA, 20 SV, 49 K, 9 BB, 0.65 WHIP, .098 BAA
It’s very refreshing to see Kimbrel get back to his old self in 2021. He and Josh Hader (who will be mentioned next) are 1A and 1B in terms of best closers in the NL right here. We will without a doubt see him in those hideous jerseys very soon.
Closer: Josh Hader (Milwaukee)
Stat Line: 30.2 IP, 3-0, 0.59 ERA, 19 SV, 52 K, 11 BB, 0.72 WHIP, .109 BAA
As I just mentioned, Hader and Kimbrel have both been flat-out unhittable in 2021. Their stats are almost identical and speak for themselves. Josh Hader will come in to close this game out in the ninth if needed.