- MLB will always be in a bind if every team is required to have an All-Star. With that being said, these are the players that should have made the initial cut of All-Stars.
The All-Star Game may officially be just for fun now, but that hasn’t taken any of the heat off the annual conversation on who got snubbed. With injury replacements sure to come and the final vote winner yet to be announced, there are some roster changes ahead, but here are our picks for the game’s biggest oversights as of right now:
Max Muncy, Dodgers 1B/3B: Okay, Muncy hasn’t collected enough at-bats to automatically appear on any FanGraphs leaderboard. So what? His ridiculous breakout has been one of the best stories in baseball—and if his performance doesn’t qualify as All-Star caliber, then nothing does. Through 66 games, he’s hit .270/.410/.617 with 20 home runs. Twenty! The National League’s only players with more are Nolan Arenado, Bryce Harper and Jesus Aguilar, and Muncy’s done it with 100 fewer plate appearances than Harper and Arenado. He’s still up for a spot through the All-Star’s Final Vote system, but he shouldn’t have to be.
Jesus Aguilar, Brewers 1B: When it comes to breakout seasons full of power, Aguilar is right behind Muncy. The first baseman is slashing .306/.368/.633, which makes him one of only two National League hitters with a slugging percentage above .600. The other, of course, is Muncy, and an All-Star team without either of them? Absurd. Aguilar stands among the Final Vote options.
Trea Turner, Nationals SS: The different wins-above-replacement formulas used by Baseball-Reference, FanGraphs and Baseball Prospectus disagree on plenty, but all three recognize Turner as the best shortstop in the National League. He’s complemented his excellent defense with 22 stolen bases and a .355 OBP, higher than that of any shortstop in the league save All-Star starter Brandon Crawford. He's also among the NL's Final Vote candidates.
Brandon Nimmo, Mets OF: The Mets have had a rough year, yes, but Jacob deGrom isn’t their only player worthy of an All-Star nod. With a .901 OPS, Nimmo has been second only to Matt Kemp (.905) among National League outfielders at the plate. That makes him not just the Mets’ best offensive player, but one of the best in all the league: His 149 OPS+ is fourth among all NL hitters.
Ross Stripling, Dodgers RHP: It’s not too shocking that Stripling was passed over—he started the year in the bullpen and spent five weeks there before making the move to the rotation—but it’s still not fair. His 2.22 ERA is second only to deGrom’s; if you want to separate out his performance as a starter, he’s still safely within the NL’s top seven with an impressive 2.55 ERA. An even more notable facet of his performance? He leads the league with a 7.9 K/BB ratio, and that number’s actually dragged down by his time in the bullpen. From the rotation, Stripling has 86 strikeouts and 7 walks, meaning that his ratio is more than double his closest competition as a starter.
Jean Segura, Mariners SS: Manny Machado and Francisco Lindor were always going to headline at this position—deservedly, of course—but Segura’s performance still should have earned him a bench spot. As inadequate and out-of-style as batting average may be, it’s nonetheless a little weird for the player with the league’s third-highest average not to make the All-Star team. Segura, hitting .330/.358/.470 with 14 stolen bases, more than deserves the nod.
Jean Segura on not getting chosen: "I mean, it's ridiculous. I don't make that decision. I feel disappointed. For me, I will just continue to do my job and play for Seattle and push this beautiful team and this beautiful city to the playoffs."— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) July 9, 2018
Eddie Rosario, Twins OF: Rosario’s breakout has made him one of relatively few bright spots for the 2018 Twins. His .536 slugging percentage is among the league’s top ten, and his 142 OPS+ falls behind just Mike Trout, Mookie Betts and Aaron Judge among American League outfielders. That should have gone a long way toward qualifying him for his first All-Star team. He's among the Final Vote players on the AL side.
Blake Snell, Rays LHP: We could go ahead and make the case here, but we’ll let Snell’s teammate Chris Archer take over for a minute:
Andrew Benintendi, Red Sox OF: Since finishing second in 2017’s Rookie of the Year voting, Benintendi has only improved. Last season’s 101 OPS+ has jumped to 135, partially thanks to a power boost—he’s already close to matching his extra-base hit total from all of last year. Yes, Boston already has five players on the All-Star roster, but, well, Boston’s a really good team.