The MLB Midsummer Classic is full of stars across the 30 teams. There are players who make the team nearly every year and there are also surprise breakout players that earn their spots on the squad. Fans vote for the position players they think deserve to start in the All-Star Game. Who will earn the starting spots in the 2017 ASG?
The 2017 All-Star Game will be the first time since 2002 that the game is “meaningless.” From 2003 to 2016 the league that won the game received home-field advantage in the World Series. After the infamous tie in the 2002 ASG, MLB added the advantage to prevent another tie. The newly agreed upon CBA eliminated that reward for the winning league.
It’s a high honor to make an ASG whether it’s by fan vote or the league manager’s decision. Although there now might be more players that decide not to play in the game and instead rest, due to the game not impacting anything.
Since the fan vote allows fans to vote for any starting position player, there is usually a controversial player that makes a starting spot. Last season, that controversial player was Chicago Cubs shortstop Addison Russell. Cubs fans voted in an all-Cub infield, but many fans disagreed with the selection of Russell.
Will there be any controversy surrounding the starters in 2017? Here is a prediction of who is going to start at each position for both leagues in the 2017 ASG in Miami.
The 2017 AL catcher nod is going to Jonathan Lucroy. In 2016, Lucroy went to the Texas Rangers and he’ll be back in Arlington in 2017. Globe Life Park is a notorious hitter’s ballpark, which will help Lucroy’s stats.
In 45 games as a Ranger, Lucroy hit 11 home runs. He hit just 13 home runs in 95 games with the Brewers before the trade. In a more powerful lineup, Lucroy sees better pitches to hit. Expect both his home run and RBI totals to rise in 2017.
Lucroy made the All-Star game twice before, including last season. His other selection came in 2014.
For the NL side, Buster Posey, who earned the starting spot over Lucroy in the 2016 ASG, is going to start again in 2017. Posey earns his third straight start at catcher for the NL, his fourth ASG start and fifth overall selection.
Posey and the Giants enter the 2017 season with a chip on their shoulder. Not only did they see their even-year championship run end, but they also blew a three-run ninth inning lead to the Cubs in Game 4 of the NLDS. They will be out to prove they are World Series contenders in 2017, and Buster Posey is going to lead the charge.
Giants fans do a great job of voting their players in, and if Posey has even a decent first half, we should see him starting in Miami.
Anthony Rizzo won’t be the starting first baseman for the NL team for a third straight season in 2017. Instead, the Atlanta Braves’ Freddie Freeman earns that honor. It’ll be Freeman’s first start in an ASG and his third selection overall.
In 2016, Freeman finished with the highest fWAR (Fangraphs wins above replacement) among first baseman at 6.1. With a batting average of .302, 34 home runs and 91 RBI, Freeman had arguably the best season of his career.
Expect Freeman to repeat that success in 2017. The only thing that could hold him back is that the Braves as a team won’t compete next season.
For the AL, Miguel Cabrera will earn his 12th ASG selection, and eighth in a row. It will be Cabrera’s first start in the ASG since 2014.
Coming off a season where Cabrera hit .316, 38 home runs and knocked in 108 runs, he showed that despite an injury-plagued 2015 season, he could still be a great player while aging.
The AL second base spot could go a lot of different ways, but Jose Altuve is going to receive his third straight starting nod in 2017. It’ll be Altuve’s fifth ASG selection.
Altuve finished third in the AL MVP voting in 2016. Along with a .338 batting average, he smacked 24 home runs, knocked in 96 runs and scored 108 times. As his career progresses, Altuve’s power continues to rise. If that trend continues to happen, he’ll run away with the selection.
It will become easier for Altuve if Brian Dozier becomes a National Leaguer via trade.
On the NL squad, Daniel Murphy will make his third ASG in 2017. He finished second in the NL MVP voting in 2016.
Murphy showed he was worth the money the Nationals gave him in the 2016 offseason. Since the 2015 postseason, Murphy has exploded offensively.
Murphy finished second in baseball with a .347 average. He carried the Nationals’ offense for most of 2016, especially amid Bryce Harper‘s struggles.
It’s hard to argue with Kris Bryant and Josh Donaldson starting in the 2017 ASG. Bryant and Donaldson finished as the top two third baseman in fWAR, respectively.
Bryant has made the ASG in both of his MLB seasons. To go along with those selections, he also won NL Rookie of the Year in 2015 and NL MVP in 2016.
Bryant went on a tear in 2016. With 39 home runs, 102 RBI, 121 runs scored, a .292 average and a stellar first half, Bryant was the clear favorite to start at third base in the 2016 ASG. He’ll be the clear favorite in 2017, as well.
Donaldson started the 2014 and 2015 ASG at third base, but Manny Machado stole that spot in 2016. Aside from the fan vote, this was also because of a monster first half from Machado and a slow start from Donaldson.
Compared to his 2015 season, Donaldson’s numbers fell a bit, but they were still impressive, nonetheless. Donaldson’s numbers in 2016 included a .284 batting average, 37 home runs, 99 RBI and 122 runs. His on-base percentage did increase significantly to .404. He’ll earn his starting spot back next summer in Miami.
With numerous young and talented shortstops in the league, it’s no surprise that the two starters in the Midsummer Classic are both entering their third MLB seasons.
Francisco Lindor and Corey Seager both had their talents on display in the 2016 postseason. Both players made the 2016 ASG, but neither started for their respected squads. That will change in 2017.
Seager led all MLB shortstops with a fWAR of 7.5 and Lindor finished second in the category with 6.6. Seager earned himself the NL Rookie of the Year award in 2016. Lindor finished runner-up in the 2015 AL Rookie of the Year voting.
The two players have enjoyed very solid early careers in the bigs, but their real breakout seasons await them in 2017.
Mike Trout’s bid for a third straight ASG MVP award ended in 2016, but he did make his fifth consecutive ASG. He’ll make it six straight in 2017. He’s the best player in baseball, it’s that simple.
In his third year in the league, Mookie Betts made his first ASG and finished runner-up to Trout for the AL MVP award. Expect Betts to put up similar numbers in his 2017 season. A 214-hit season, a .318 batting average with 31 home runs and 113 RBI made Betts a household name in 2016. He’ll punch a ticket to Miami.
The third AL outfield spot in the 2017 ASG is going to a player who didn’t perform like Trout and Betts did in 2016, but he has plenty of talent to do so. George Springer’s ready to break out in 2017, along with an extremely talented and powerful Astros lineup. He’ll earn his first ASG selection in 2017, and it will be the first of many.
Already a three-time All-Star, Giancarlo Staton – when healthy – is one of the best players in baseball, but the past two seasons he couldn’t stay on the field. The death of his teammate Jose Fernandez hit him hard, as it did the whole Marlins organization.
Look for Staton to make it back to the ASG in 2017. Also look for him to lead the league in home runs next season, if he can stay healthy, that is.
Another 2017 ASG NL outfielder that looks to get healthy next season is Bryce Harper. It was a disappointing 2016 season for the Nationals outfielder, but thanks to the fan vote, he still made the ASG.
Harper didn’t have horrific 2016 numbers, but compared to his 2015 NL MVP season, they weren’t very good. Look for Harper to play next season more like 2015 than 2016.
Yoenis Cespedes is a two-time All-Star in his five-year career, including last season. He’ll be back there in 2017. His numbers were a bit down from 2015, but now that he has his big contract with the Mets, Cespedes can press a bit less and get back to crushing the ball.
The difference between position players and pitchers in the ASG is significant because fans can’t vote for pitchers, but let’s include them in this prediction anyways.
Max Scherzer earned himself his second Cy Young award in 2016, and he also made it to his fourth consecutive ASG. Either his nasty arsenal of pitches or his freakishly different-colored eyes cause opposing batters to struggle against him. Nothing should change in 2017. He’ll make his second start in an ASG in 2017, but this time it will be for the NL side.
Opposing Scherzer will be Cleveland Indians ace Corey Kluber. Coming off his first ASG appearance in 2016, Kluber will once again be in the Midsummer Classic.