MLB revealed the 2021 All-Star ballot last week, so it’s officially time to start debating who deserves to make each 32-man roster. In this week’s edition of the power rankings, we’ll run down who we see as the standout candidates on each team.
As far as the rankings go, a fourth team has claimed the top spot to follow in the footsteps of the Dodgers, White Sox and Padres. And while that team isn’t the Giants, who now own baseball’s best winning percentage, this is the first week when they’re ranked above both of their NL West rivals. Our hunch is they won’t be there at the end of the season, but the pile of evidence to support them being a legitimate contender is now too high to ignore.
30. Arizona Diamondbacks (Last Week: 29)
Carson Kelly has cooled off since returning from a fractured toe after his blazing start, but he’s probably the best (only?) option for a Diamondbacks squad that has lost 19 of 21, as well as a franchise-record 17 straight on the road, to collapse into MLB’s worst record.
29. Baltimore Orioles (LW: 30)
There’s in the zone, and then there’s wherever Cedric Mullins is right now. He reached base in 11 consecutive plate appearances over the weekend, a stretch that included three home runs and saw his batting average jump from .295 to .322. He leads the AL in hits, and on Saturday joined Cal Ripken Jr. and Brooks Robinson as the only Orioles to go 5-for-5 or better with two homers in one game. John Means has been All-Star–worthy as well, with a sparkling 2.28 ERA and a league-leading 0.83 WHIP (0.83). He’s held opposing hitters to a .181 batting average, second-lowest among AL starters.
28. Pittsburgh Pirates (LW: 28)
Adam Frazier will likely be Pittsburgh’s lone All-Star, but he’s no forced selection. The 29-year-old lefty leads the majors in hits (75) and doubles (19), and would be a worthy starter at second base. Bryan Reynolds (2.1 fWAR, fifth in NL) could force his way into the outfield reserve mix if he stays hot.
27. Texas Rangers (LW: 25)
If you were to have predicted the Rangers’ leading All-Star candidates before the season began, Kyle Gibson and Adolis García likely wouldn’t have been the top two picks. But Gibson has put last season’s struggles behind him, generating ground balls at a 53.3% clip and avoiding the long ball for a 2.06 ERA through 11 starts. García has been among the game’s best rookies and is tied for second in the AL in home runs.
26. Detroit Tigers (LW: 26)
Detroit’s most deserving All-Star to this point has been Spencer Turnbull of no-hitter fame, but his candidacy is a bit murky now that he’s on the injured list with no timetable for a return. In Turnbull’s stead, why not give the nod to rookie Akil Baddoo? The 22-year-old took the baseball world by storm to start the year before cooling off at the end of April and early May. He’s picked things back up as of late, batting .345 with more walks (14) than strikeouts (12) in his last 18 games.
25. Colorado Rockies (LW: 27)
Rockies owner Dick Monfort reportedly wants to wait to deal Trevor Story until after the All-Star Game is hosted in Denver … which is strange, since Story won’t be invited to the Midsummer Classic given his season-long slump and elbow injury. Ryan McMahon has been just about a league-average hitter by wRC+ (101), but his 13 home runs and team-high .804 OPS probably makes him Colorado’s best All-Star candidate on perhaps the worst offense in Rockies history.
24. Minnesota Twins (LW: 24)
Despite amassing just 98 plate appearances, Byron Buxton leads all AL outfielders in fWAR (2.5) and is set to begin his rehab assignment soon. If he can return to big-league action by mid-June he’d get serious consideration to make the squad given his .370/.408/.772 slash line with nine homers and five stolen bases. Righthander José Berríos has been a bright spot in an otherwise disastrous pitching season for the Twins, striking out more than a batter per inning through 12 starts with a 3.58 ERA.
23. Los Angeles Angels (LW: 23)
Shohei Ohtani is about as no-brainer of an All-Star choice as there is. He’s 2–1 with a 2.76 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 42.1 innings on the mound, and batting .256/.332/.588 with 16 homers and eight stolen bases. Joining Ohtani in Denver could be first baseman Jared Walsh, who ranks seventh in the AL with a 154 wRC+. Three-time MVP Mike Trout was well on his way to another All-Star appearance before suffering a calf strain that’s likely to keep him out of action until after the break.
22. Seattle Mariners (LW: 21)
Closer Kendall Graveman was the most dominant relief pitcher in baseball over the first month and a half, tossing 16.2 scoreless innings with 17 strikeouts and just nine baserunners allowed. He’s been on the COVID-19 injured list since mid-May, but he should return soon. Outfielder Mitch Haniger has looked more like the hitter he was in 2017 and '18 than the one who struggled for much of '19. The 30-year-old could be in line for his second career All-Star appearance.
21. Washington Nationals (LW: 22)
For a little while, it looked like Trea Turner may start at shortstop over Fernando Tatis Jr. as the latter started slowly and sustained a shoulder injury. That won’t happen. But Turner, with his MLB-leading 13 stolen bases, still deserves his first All-Star bid. Max Scherzer, on the other hand, has a good shot at being the 2021 All-Star with the most career appearances, as the NL strikeout leader’s selection would be his eighth.
20. Miami Marlins (LW: 17)
Trevor Rogers might be Miami’s lone selection after Jazz Chisholm Jr. and Jesús Aguilar have faded following hot starts. But the right side of the Marlins infield could certainly make a late charge for its first and second selections, respectively. Rogers is almost certainly not the young Marlins starter most would have pegged before the season to represent the club this summer, but he ranks fourth in the NL in ERA (1.97) and leads the league in home run rate (0.3 HR/9 IP).
19. Cincinnati Reds (LW: 20)
Jesse Winker notched his second three-homer game of the season against the Cardinals on Sunday. That launched him over fellow Reds outfielder Nick Castellanos for the NL OPS lead, with both standing alongside Vladimir Guerrero Jr. as the only players above 1.000. We could see them both hitting in the heart of the NL’s starting lineup.
18. Philadelphia Phillies (LW: 18)
Zack Wheeler, who’s thrown the most innings of any pitcher, should earn his first All-Star appearance. J.T. Realmuto is in good position to make his third appearance on the back of his career-high .855 OPS. This hasn’t been Rhys Hoskins’s best season, but it could result in his first All-Star appearance during a down year for the position in the senior circuit. Bryce Harper, reinstated from the injured list over the weekend, should have enough time to bolster his case for a seventh All-Star appearance, but he wouldn’t make the cut if voting ended today.
17. Kansas City Royals (LW: 19)
Another year, another All-Star bid should be the story for catcher Salvador Pérez. The five-time Gold Glove winner has played in every game for Kansas City this season, batting .275/.305/.514 with 14 home runs. He could be joined in Denver by reliever Scott Barlow, who has a 1.80 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 30 innings. Barlow has pitched the third-most innings out of the bullpen by any AL reliever this season.
16. Atlanta Braves (LW: 16)
Ronald Acuña Jr. seems like a lock to start in the outfield, and may be joined on the NL squad by third baseman Austin Riley (.903 OPS, sixth in NL) and second baseman Ozzie Albies, who’s batting .373 with three homers in his last 13 games. Reigning MVP Freddie Freeman has a decent shot at making the cut despite a relative down year; he’s still tied for the home run lead among NL first basemen with 13, and he’s far from the only veteran stalwart at the position who’s struggled in 2021.
15. St. Louis Cardinals (LW: 10)
This may not feel like a vintage Nolan Arenado campaign, but he’s actually just a tick below his career-high of 133 OPS+, which takes ballpark factors into consideration and thus adjusts for his leaving Coors Field’s hitter-friendly confines. He trails only Kris Bryant among NL third baseman in fWAR (1.9) and should make his sixth All-Star squad, albeit with his streak of three straight ASG starts snapped. He could be joined by Tyler O’Neill, whose .917 OPS ranks fifth among NL outfielders with at least 140 plate appearances, and Yadier Molina, whose 10th appearance would tie him with Albert Pujols for the second-most among active players (Miguel Cabrera is first with 11).
14. Cleveland (LW: 14)
José Ramírez is a near-lock to head to Denver, and he’s still somehow performing better than his on-the-surface stats would have you believe. He ranks in the 90th percentile or better in expected batting average (.301), expected slugging percentage (.558) and xwOBA (.397). Though he’s not as dominant as he was in 2020, reigning Cy Young Award winner Shane Bieber still ranks among the league’s best starters and should make his second All-Star appearance. Two others who will certainly have a shot are Cleveland’s relief duo of Emmanuel Clase and James Karinchak, who have shared closing duties and have been among the most dominant one-two punches in the game.
13. Milwaukee Brewers (LW: 15)
Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff, the only rotation mates with ERAs under 2.00, would be worthy starters in most years. Josh Hader has been the most valuable reliever in baseball by fWAR (1.4), leading all relievers in strikeout rate (46.1 K%) with just two runs and 10 hits allowed in 23.2 innings. Omar Narváez (.317/.400/.516) deserves a look at catcher in the midst of a breakout season, but may be passed over in a strong NL catcher class.
12. New York Yankees (LW: 8)
Through two months of the season, Gerrit Cole clearly has the inside track to win his first career Cy Young Award, with a 2.26 ERA and 104 strikeouts through his first 12 starts. Closer Aroldis Chapman has struck out 50.6% of opposing hitters with just one earned run allowed in 23 innings, while Aaron Judge has been the best hitter among AL outfielders by wRC+ (161).
11. Chicago Cubs (LW: 12)
Kris Bryant has played only 15 games at third base as the Cubs have tested the limits of his defense by moving him around the diamond. But he’s on the ballot on the hot corner, and as a result is a near-lock to start there amid his spectacular platform season. Craig Kimbrel has nearly been Josh Hader’s equal in the race for reliever of the year, and is on track for his eighth All-Star appearance after a couple of rough campaigns to start his Cubs career.
10. New York Mets (LW: 13)
Well, there’s one obvious name here. Francisco Lindor, come on down! Just kidding. Jacob deGrom has struck out 46% of the batters he’s faced, and his historic dominance makes a case for NL MVP despite missing a couple of starts. He’s allowed only four earned runs in 58 innings! He’s somehow never started an All-Star Game, but if he doesn’t in July, something will have gone horribly wrong. Taijuan Walker (2.17 ERA, fifth in NL) could join him, though his peripherals indicate he may get hit by the regression train before the All-Star rosters are announced.
9. Toronto Blue Jays (LW: 11)
If everything goes according to plan, All-Star week will be the Vladimir Guerrero Jr. showcase we all deserve. Fingers crossed on Guerrero opting in for the Home Run Derby, and he’s a virtual lock to start this year’s Midsummer Classic. Marcus Semien deserves to start right alongside him, as he leads all AL second basemen in fWAR (2.7), home runs (13) and wRC+ (146). And though pitching has been a challenge for the Blue Jays this season, Hyun Jin Ryu is not to blame. He gave up two runs or fewer in eight of his first 10 starts, though he was roughed up a bit in his most recent outing. Still, Ryu’s 3.23 ERA and 3.43 FIP in 64 innings warrant a spot on the team.
8. Oakland A’s (LW: 9)
The A’s could be the top team in the AL in terms of most All-Star selections. Outfielders Mark Canha and Ramón Laureano have certainly performed well enough, though the latter could miss too much time on the injured list to ultimately get the nod. Matt Olson trails only Vladimir Guerrero Jr. among AL first basemen in fWAR (2.0), home runs (15), slugging percentage (.576) and wRC+ (160). On the pitching side, Chris Bassitt and Sean Manaea are having standout seasons leading Oakland’s rotation, and relief pitcher Yusmeiro Petit could be something of a wild-card choice. Petit’s seven wins are most on the team, and he’s thrown the most innings of any AL relief pitcher.
7. Los Angeles Dodgers (LW: 5)
Max Muncy is the surefire starter at first base as the NL’s on-base percentage leader (.424) and a sneaky MVP candidate. But he may be Los Angeles’s only position player to make the cut, as Mookie Betts (five homers, five stolen bases) and Justin Turner have merely been good and not great. Ditto for Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler. Trevor Bauer hasn’t been too far off from his Cy Young campaign … except for in his last start, when his spin rates were down amid reports of an impending crackdown on foreign substance use by pitchers. So that bears keeping an eye on.
6. Boston Red Sox (LW: 4)
Boston’s left side of the infield is certain to show up in Denver, as Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers rank first or second among their respective positions in fWAR, home runs and wRC+. Designated hitter J.D. Martinez ranks third among all AL hitters in wRC+ (160) and fourth in runs scored (41), while starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi is second in the AL behind only Gerrit Cole in fWAR (2.2) and FIP (2.39). Closer Matt Barnes is also a virtual lock, with the second-highest strikeout rate (49.5%) among AL relief pitchers.
5. San Diego Padres (LW: 1)
Fernando Tatis Jr., the NL leader in home runs (17), slugging percentage (.695) and stolen bases (13), looks set to make his All-Star debut in Denver. Yu Darvish and Joe Musgrove have been everything the Padres could have hoped for after acquiring them in the offseason. Mark Melancon has been nails as the Padres closer and leads all relievers in ERA (0.68), so he’ll probably get a nod, too, if he keeps that up.
4. Houston Astros (LW: 6)
Denver could play host to three Astros infielders this year, as José Altuve, Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel are off to outstanding starts. Kyle Tucker, Alex Bregman and Yordan Alvarez could also be included, though they appear to be less sure things than the other three. On the mound, 37-year-old Zack Greinke has once again been stellar and could be in line for his seventh All-Star bid. He’s 6–2 with a 3.38 ERA and leads the majors with 82.2 innings pitched this season.
3. San Francisco Giants (LW: 7)
Buster Posey has accumulated the most fWAR (2.2) among catchers despite playing in just 40 of San Francisco’s 59 games, as his extraordinary resurgence continues—his .321 batting average and 10 homers lead all NL catchers. He could be joined by longtime teammate Brandon Crawford, who at age 34 is also enjoying his best offensive output. Kevin Gausman has allowed one earned run or fewer in 11 of his 12 starts, and has yet to be tagged with a loss—he’ll surely make his ASG debut. Evan Longoria’s shoulder sprain sustained Sunday likely takes him out of the running for his fourth All-Star berth (and first since 2010).
2. Chicago White Sox (LW: 3)
The AL has to have at least two catchers on the squad, so Yasmani Grandal—quirky slash line and all—is in prime position to secure a spot. Yoán Moncada is having a career year and could be in line for his first All-Star bid. He’s posting career bests in strikeout rate (27.2%) and walk rate (16.5), and currently ranks second in the AL with a .424 on-base percentage. On a team loaded with good starting pitching, Lance Lynn shines above the rest, with a 1.23 ERA that ranks tops among pitchers with at least 50 innings. Right behind him is teammate Carlos Rodón (1.98), while closer Liam Hendriks has been outstanding in relief with a 1.85 ERA and 15 saves in 26 games.
1. Tampa Bay Rays (LW: 2)
It’s very Rays-y to have the best record in the AL yet relatively few standout individual performances. Tyler Glasnow has been among the most dominant starters in the league, with the second-highest strikeout rate (35.6%) and lowest opponents’ batting average (.168) among AL starters. Ranking third in that category is lefthander Rich Hill, who at 41 years old would be among the oldest first-time All-Stars in MLB history. On the hitting side, Joey Wendle and Austin Meadows face some stiff competition, while Mike Zunino could contend for a backup catcher spot. He’s put up a very 2021-worthy .197/.285/.525 slash line so far, with 12 home runs and a whopping 39.4% strikeout rate. That’s not quite Grandalian, but it’s good enough for a share of the AL catching lead in fWAR with, you guessed it, Yasmani Grandal.