Over one month into the MLB season and some position players are making a strong case to make their first MLB All-Star Game in 2017.
MLB released the first MLB All-Star Game online ballots of 2017 on May 1. Baseball fans all over the world can vote for their favorite players or players they feel deserve the honor, now and until June 29 at 11:59 p.m. ET. The 88th MLB All-Star Game takes place July 11 at Marlins Park in Miami.
As always, fan-voting produces the starting lineups for both the AL and NL squads. For the pitchers and reserves, the All-Star Game managers decide who makes the teams.
For the first time since the infamous 2002 All-Star Game tie in Milwaukee, the All-Star Game won’t result in World Series home-field advantage for the winning league. MLB’s new collective bargaining agreement ended the World Series impact from the ASG. So, MLB’s ASG becomes just an exhibition game again.
Even though the Midsummer Classic lost its competitive edge, making an All-Star Game remains one of the most prestigious honors in MLB. When it comes down to Hall of Fame voting, All-Star Game appearances can play a factor.
Eric Thames‘ first attempt in MLB didn’t go as planned. He struggled in both the 2011 and 2012 seasons with the Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays. Thames wound up leaving MLB and heading to Korea.
After three seasons spent playing in the KBO, Thames returned to MLB and signed a three-year, $16 million deal with the Milwaukee Brewers in the offseason.
The 30-year-old got off to a hot start in 2017. Thames hit an MLB-leading 11 home runs in April. His April slash line was .345/.466/.810 with 19 RBI and 28 runs.
Many wondered if Thames’ success in Korea could translate to MLB. The Brewers star put that question to rest early on in the 2017 season.
So far in May, Thames isn’t seeing the same stellar play as he had in April. He hasn’t hit a homer in May and only has one RBI. Despite the struggles in early May, if Thames can play just half as good as he did in the first month of the season for the rest of the first half, expect him to make the NL All-Star team.
The feel-good story that Thames carries with his transition from the KBO to MLB also could play an impact on fan voting.
Heading into the 2017 season, the New York Yankees had high expectations for a lot of their young stars. So far, 25-year-old rookie Aaron Judge has exceeded expectations and taken the league by storm.
Judge currently leads the AL in home runs with 13. He’s hitting .320/.416/.773 with 27 RBI and 28 runs. After a rough stint in 2016 when the Yankees called him up toward the end of the season, no one saw this hot start from Judge.
In 2016, Judge played in 27 games. He hit .179/.263/.345 with four home runs. He also struck out a whopping 42 times in that short span.
Flash forward to 2017 and Judge currently leads all MLB players with a 2.6 bWAR. He also leads the AL in runs, slugging percentage (.773) and OPS (1.189).
Judge’s power comes as no surprise. He’s quite the physical specimen. Judge draws heavy comparisons to Giancarlo Stanton with his 282-pound, 6-foot-7-inch frame.
Can the young Yankees slugger continue this success? He’ll more than likely slow down, but at the rate he’s playing at, expect him to make it on the AL All-Star squad.
Judge also gets the benefit of the big media area of New York. Usually, when a player succeeds in New York, he gains attention quickly. That can only benefit a player’s chances of making the Midsummer Classic.
After back-to-back strong seasons for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Justin Turner looks for his first ever All-Star Game appearance in 2017. Turner’s play earned him a nice payday in the offseason. The Dodgers re-signed him to a four-year, $64 million deal.
In 2016, Turner finished ninth in the MVP voting. He hit .275/.339/.493 with career bests in home runs (27), RBI (90), runs (79) and hits (153). Since joining the Dodgers, Turner’s improved each season. Turner’s 27 homers in 2016 almost matched his home run total from his prior seven seasons combined (31).
So far in 2017, Turner’s hitting .377/.451/.509 with a home run, 14 RBI and 14 runs. He currently leads the NL in doubles with 11. His power numbers haven’t matched his contact numbers yet, but expect that to change. Turner’s .377 batting average ranks third-best in baseball right now.
The real struggle Turner faces to make the All-Star Game is his competition at third base. Last season, Kris Bryant earned the starting nod at third and Nolan Arenado made the reserves. Battling with Bryant and Arenado is no easy task for Turner.
If Turner puts up another season like his 2016 campaign, he needs to make the All-Star Game. He might not earn a starting spot, but he deserves a reserve selection.
After years of expectations from Avisail Garcia, 2017 finally looks like the season that the 25-year-old breaks out and starts putting up big numbers.
Before the 2017 season, Garcia owned just a .258 batting average. His career high in homers sits at 13 in 2015. Over the first month, Garcia’s put together hitting for average along with some pop, as well.
So far this season, Garcia is hitting .362/.407/.571 with five home runs, 24 RBI and 18 runs. His .366 batting average ranks fifth best in MLB and second best in the AL, behind Starlin Castro.
Garcia’s 1.4 bWAR currently leads all other Chicago White Sox players in 2017. Garcia also leads in an array of White Sox categories including home runs, RBI, runs, hits, triples, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS and OPS-plus.
The outfielder’s played a big factor in the White Sox keeping over .500 so far this season. If the White Sox plan on competing in 2017, they’ll need Garcia to keep playing this way all season.
After the White Sox traded away Chris Sale and Adam Eaton in the offseason, they showed that they are in rebuild mode. So even if the White Sox don’t compete this season, Garcia can play a huge role in the future or work as a trade piece. Either way, if he continues his success, he should make the AL All-Star team.