Voting is underway for the 2021 All-Star Game! Voting is a bit different this season and the league released an update on Monday, June 14 with ballot standings coming into the week.
There are two phases of voting for the starting position players. Phase 1 narrows down the top three vote-getters at each infield position and the top nine outfielders. Voting for Phase 1 closes on Thursday, June 24 at 4 p.m. ET. Then, the slate is wiped clean in Phase 2, and the top vote-getters battle it out for the starting spots at each position.
The tables below show the leaders at each position in both leagues as of Monday, June 14. The statistics listed below were each player’s totals as of the same date. On the actual ballot, the players are listed with the following statistics: batting average, home runs, runs batted in, and on-base plus slugging. Those numbers are in the charts with each player’s fWAR.
I’ll look at each position in both leagues and see which races the fans are getting right and which deserving players are getting snubbed. There’s less ballot-stuffing this year compared to past seasons, but there are still a few top vote-getters that are hogging spots from more deserving players.
Lastly, please refrain from yelling about election fraud and demanding we stop the count. It’s not my fault your favorite players are having mediocre seasons. Click here to get those votes in for the players you think are most deserving of a starting spot in this year’s All-Star Game!
The catching position in the AL is slim pickings this season. The obvious choice is Salvador Perez, who has been starting behind the plate in five straight All-Star Games from 2014-2018. Yasmani Grandal and his .157 batting average have the second-most votes at the position. If you look beyond the surface statistics, Grandal is putting together an unbelievable season. I’m surprised the sight of his batting average didn’t scare voters away, but I don’t see anyone not named “Salvador Perez” taking the top spot.
What year is it? 34-year-old Buster Posey and 38-year-old Yadier Molina are leading the way in the NL. While Molina is always a top vote-getter, Posey is far and away having his best season since winning the NL MVP in 2012 and fans are noticing! One guy not getting enough love is Brewers’ catcher Omar Narváez. He’s putting up similar numbers to Posey and much better numbers than Willson Contreras. J.T. Realmuto and Will Smith are also playing well, but not better than Narváez.
There’s no contest for the starting spot at first base in the AL — it’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr. He’s crushing the ball, walking more, and leads the league in more categories than I can keep track of. The other two spots can go to a few different people. Matt Olson is quietly putting together a really good season with the division-leading A’s and the other players listed here also deserve consideration.
Max Muncy is leading the star-studded Dodgers in fWAR, but he is on the injured list with an oblique strain. Freddie Freeman got off to a slow start but has kicked it into gear, collecting 12 hits in his last seven games. Anthony Rizzo is always playing well enough to be considered. An under-the-radar guy is Jesús Aguilar, who has been as valuable as Freeman and Rizzo in 2021. Not to mention, his personality is what every fan wants in the All-Star Game. The Pirates’ Colin Moran is also putting together a good season and is deserving of some recognition.
A change of scenery has done wonders for Marcus Semien, now a Toronto/Dunedin/Buffalo Blue Jay. He’s deserving of the top spot in the AL with Jose Altuve close behind. To round out the last spot, I saw Nick Madrigal as more deserving than DJ LeMahieu before he underwent season-ending hamstring surgery. Madrigal doesn’t play for the New York Yankees or ever hit the ball hard, but his inability to strike out is fascinating in today’s game. While he is resting up for next season and LeMahieu will likely be in the top three here, check out Zach Hayes’ Going Deep article on Madrigal from last season.
There’s a lot of talent competing for the starting spot at second base in the NL. I don’t not like Ozzie Albies, but he’s been a bit underwhelming this season and there are multiple other players who have been impressive. Adam Frazier, who has the second-most votes in this category, is a low strikeout guy like Madrigal in the AL and leads the league with 23 doubles. If he’s worthy of the starting spot, the other two in the trio moving onto Phase 2 of voting could go to any of the following players: Jake Cronenworth, Jean Segura, Jazz Chisholm Jr., or Albies.
I’m flabbergasted by the José Ramírez disrespect, who isn’t even in the top three vote-getters in his category. At the time of the voting standings update, Ramírez had nearly identical numbers to Rafael Devers. (He does trail him in runs batted in, but that isn’t completely Ramírez’s fault. The Indians have scored the ninth-most runs and the Red Sox the second-most.) Ramírez is also certainly a better defender than Devers by nearly every metric. Besides those two players, Yoán Moncada is rightfully in the top three but I’m not sure Alex Bregman fits here. Bregman did, however, just hit the injured list with a quad strain that looks to be more than a short-term IL stint, so it’s likely that his spot will go to someone else considering he’ll most likely be unavailable for the All-Star Game in July.
Kris Bryant is putting together a fantastic season and making it a difficult decision for the Cubs, as I wrote here because Bryant will be a free agent at the end of the season. He’s deserving of an All-Star nod, but should it be at third base? He’s played all around the field this season, but only 19 games have been at the hot corner and 42 games in the outfield. The other five players listed here are playing really well, but only two will make it to Phase 2 of voting. Austin Riley and Evan Longoria are under-the-radar choices, but one could make the case for Nolan Arenado, Justin Turner, and even Manny Machado.
I can’t argue with Xander Bogaerts leading the way for AL shortstops and Bo Bichette is having a nice season of his own, but it’s funny to see defensively mediocre shortstops at the top of the standings. One player that deserves to be in the discussion is Rangers’ shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa. His defensive versatility (70+ career games at each of catcher, third base, and shortstop) is captivating and he’s hitting well too. FanGraphs’ Chet Gutwein wrote about Kiner-Falefa’s improvements this season and it’s worth a read. He has the most hits and stolen bases of any shortstop in the AL. Kiner-Falefa may not be the most popular shortstop in the game but definitely deserves some love. He would agree.
There’s not much that needs to be said in favor of Fernando Tatís Jr. because his numbers and personality stand for themselves. Nothing against Javier Báez and Corey Seager, but there are more deserving players for the other two spots. Báez leads the league in strikeouts (92) and has the fewest walks (8) and Seager hasn’t played since mid-May due to a fractured hand. Trea Turner has been playing well and Brandon Crawford has come to life offensively. Diamondback Josh Rojas and Marlin Miguel Rojas have never been named to the All-Star team and they are both putting together quietly good seasons. I doubt they will get the votes or deserve a spot over the other NL shortstops, but they deserve to be recognized.
The top spot is no surprise: Mike Trout. This next spot is where I’m bracing for some slander…Aaron Judge isn’t deserving of a starting spot on the All-Star team this season. Coming into this weekend, his home run and RBI totals remain the same and his batting average and OPS have decreased. Meanwhile, Baltimore Oriole Cedric Mullins is continuing to hit. Coming into the weekend, Mullins has swatted 11 long balls, driven in 23 runs, and accumulated a 3.3 fWAR. Mullins, not Judge, deserves a starting spot.
Byron Buxton was mashing before he injured his hip in early May and just returned to the lineup this weekend. He’s only played in 24 games but he may be a contender for the top three spots if he hits the ground running as he returns from the injured list. As a reminder, the top nine outfield spots move on to Phase 2. Besides the players in the 4-through-9 spots, there are a few others who don’t have the votes but should be considered: Mark Canha, Ramón Laureano, and Kyle Tucker.
Ronald Acuña Jr. is continuing his stellar season and the fans have noticed. He has more votes than all players not named Vladimir Guerrero Jr. The Reds have this generation’s version of the Bash Brothers — Nick Castellanos and Jesse Winker. They are rightfully in the top three NL outfield spots. Chris Taylor, who is sitting at number six, isn’t the biggest name in the Dodgers’ lineup but has been having a great season.
The three players who, if these standings remained, would be left off the Phase 2 ballot that I feel are getting snubbed are Bryan Reynolds, Starling Marte, and Tyler O’Neill. Reynolds has been the best player for the Pirates this season and may end up being their designated All-Star if he isn’t voted in by the fans. Marte was sidelined by a fractured rib for more than a month, but he was on a tear before the injury and returned to the Marlins lineup without missing a beat. O’Neill has been hitting behind Arenado and doing it well. He’s another outfielder who deserves a bit of recognition.
Let’s count this one down. The former AL Rookie of the Year, Yordan Alvarez, is having a great season in Houston and is deserving of a top-three DH spot going into Phase 2. J.D. Martinez is also playing well and helping keep the Red Sox atop the AL East. Last but most certainly not least, Shohei Ohtani is doing something none of us have ever seen before. He’s battling for the home run lead in the AL with Guerrero Jr. and is the ace on the Angels’ pitching staff. He just announced he’s competing in the 2021 Home Run Derby and he deserves to take the starting DH spot in the All-Star Game too.
Photos from Icon Sportswire | Feature Image by Justin Redler (@reldernitsuj on Twitter)