The MLB All-Star 2015 ballot closes in the early hours of Friday 3rd July UK time (just before 5 a.m.).
The ballot is now completely online, rather than including written votes submitted at ballparks, and the result has been an impressive, if to some quite annoying, campaign by Kansas City Royals fans to fill every American League starting position with one of their players.
Quite a few of the leading Royals players do have a fair case to start, so it’s not quite the travesty some are making it out to be; however the All-Star ballot is the same as any other voting process. If you have a vote (and you do, 35 per person in fact), you have the power to influence the decision.
Mark George and I have done our bitÂ and our selections are explained below.
MG: Miguel Cabrera. As impressive as Prince Fielder’s year has been, I have to go for Miggy here. Hopefully Prince makes it as a reserve.
MS: Miguel Cabrera.Â Albert Pujols has rolled back the years to give him a strong case, but I can’t look past Miggy both on the basis of his continued excellence at the plate and that he approaches the game with a childlike enthusiasm.
MG:Â Jason Kipnis. Having not seen much of Cleveland, I hadn’t appreciated quite how good his numbers are. Dozier’s having a nice year too.
MS: Jason Kipnis.Â Kipnis struggled in April, just as he did when he made the All-Star team in 2013, but he’s really come alive since then and has outperformed better known players like Dustin Pedroia and Robinson Cano. Although the Twins’ Brian Dozier has had an excellent first few months of the 2015 season too, I’m just giving Kipnis the edge.
MG:Â Alcides Escobar. Yes, a Royal. I never thought he’d hit this well and the defense is still outstanding. Bogaerts also worthy.
MS: Jose Iglesias. Manny Machado was a shortstop in the Minors so it would be great to see him making the team in this spot as he didn’t make my third base selection, but that’s not going to happen. It’s slim pickings otherwise and I’ve gone for Iglesias due to his defensive prowess and that he has put up good numbers at the plate so far this season, even if it’s highly likely they will fall away as the year goes on.
MG:Â Josh Donaldson. A monster year sees him chosen over Manny Machado. After their dispute a while back, it could be fun to see them in the same dugout.
MS: Josh Donaldson.Â Whilst I understand why the A’s liked the opportunity to get Brett Lawrie and a couple of other young players for Donaldson, few doubted that they had traded away one of the better players in the Majors. Donaldson has taken little time in getting used to life in Canada and has impressed with has bat and his glove. It’s also great to see how well Manny Machado has come back from his injury problems and he will be an All-Star candidate for years to come.
Mark George (MG):Â Steven Vogt. Tough call here as Salvador Perez, Russell Martin and Brian McCann are all having nice years. But Vogt’s near .300, leads in homers and already has more than 50 RBIs.
Matt Smith (MS): Vogt has been one of the few bright spots for my A’s so far this season and his emergence this year has been a great story. Russell Martin would just get my vote (pun shamelessly intended)Â were it not for me wanting to add one Oakland player onto the time.
MG: Nelson Cruz. I wasn’t expecting such big numbers in Seattle. Last year was not a fluke.
MS: Jose Bautista. I’m cheating a bit here as I’m not a fan of having to vote for a DH. Cruz is probably the best of those actually listed as a DH on the ballot, but Bautista has played almost as many games as a DH so far this season as he has in right field and as I couldn’t quite squeeze him into my outfield (as you’ll see below), I’m putting him in the lineup here.
MG: Mike Trout, Adam Jones and Jose Bautista. Plenty of players you could make a case for here. I love watching Cain and Alex Gordon’s defense and Cespedes and JD Martinez are having great years too. But I have to pick Trout, Jones has been excellent again and Joey Bats his hitting for power and managing to keep his average up around .260, which isn’t easy with his big swings.
MS: Mike Trout, Lornezo Cain, Adam Jones.Â Trout needs no explanation, whilst Cain deserves a chance to continue showcasing his talents on the big stage following his playoff exploits with the Royals last year. There are a number of deserving candidates to round out the outfield, not least Cain’s teammate Alex Gordon and Toronto’s Jose Bautista, but I’m going to go for Adam Jones. He’s just a very good all-round player who doesn’t always get the credit he deserves, possibly because he isn’t exceptional in any one area to really make him stand out.
MG:Â If I could vote for a starting pitcher, I’d choose Sonny Gray, followed by Chris Archer and Dallas Keuchel. Glenn Perkins would be my closer.
MS: Starting pitcher – Chris Sale.Â Much as I enjoy the skill and cunning of a crafty pitcher, nothing beats watching someone who can blow opposing batters away. That’s what I saw from Sale against the Twins on BT Sport/ESPN on Wednesday last week and he has been terrific all season. Chris Archer has been similarly impressive, whilst my A’s bias actually makes me want to downplay Sonny Gray in preference for for him getting a few days of rest.
MG:Â Paul Goldschmidt. Great years from Adrian Gonzalez, Anthony Rizzo and Joey Votto but Goldy has to be the pick here.
MS:Â Paul Goldschmidt.Â Out in the desert, Goldschmidt is having another MVP-calibre season out of limelight. He deserves the All-Star selection in part to counterbalance this and to remind people just how good he is. Anthony Rizzo would be an excellent deputy as he has starred for the resurgent Cubs.
MG: Dee Gordon. Great first half again. can he keep it up? Either way, he deserves to start.
MS:Â Dee Gordon.Â Heâ€™s probably not going to keep his batting line up for the full season, but heâ€™s a fun player to watch and he always plays with a smile on his face. Having been traded away by the Dodgers over the offseason, seeing him starting the All-Star game would be a great comeback. The Cardinalsâ€™ Kolten Wong would be another strong contender, as would the Giantsâ€™ youngster Joe Panik who has seemingly taken to the Majors with ease.
MG:Â Jhonny Peralta. Close call here with Brandon Crawford having an excellent year too, buy Jhonny keeps on showing he can be a servicable defender and can still hit.
MS: Andrelton Simmons. Itâ€™s tough on Brandon Crawford, who is a very good all-round player and a key part of the Giantsâ€™ championship team, but an All-Star selection gives me a chance to watch Simmons playing shortstop in an extra game and thatâ€™s an opportunity I wouldnâ€™t want to pass up.
MG:Â I like Frazier, having drafted him in my dynasty league years ago. I never thought he’d be quite this good. Nolan Arenado a close second.
MS:Â Todd Frazier.Â Now this is a tough choice. Kris Bryant definitely falls under the â€˜starâ€™ heading, but heâ€™s only just starting out so will likely have many more chances to make the lineup. Nolan Arenado is a superb player, outstanding with his glove and his performances at the plate are not a consequence of Coors Field (heâ€™s actually hitting slightly better on the road) so itâ€™s difficult to leave him off the team. Still, Todd Frazier has taken a good step forward in each of the last two seasons and it looks like heâ€™s taking yet another in 2015. An All-Star start would be a fitting reward for his continued improvement.
MG: Buster Posey. Easy pick as not that much competition this year. Maybe Yasmani Grandal has a shot as a reserve, although I suspect that Yadier Molina guy may beat him.
MS:Â Buster Posey.Â Posey has won three World Series in hisÂ first five MLB seasons. Yes, you could say he was in the right place at the right time and there was a certain amount of luck to it, but Posey is an outstanding player and itâ€™s no surprise that heâ€™s been at the heart of a team that has enjoyed so much success. Yadier Molina comes into the same category, of course, but Iâ€™ll give the nod to Posey here.
MG:Â Bryce Harper, Giancarlo Stanton and Justin Upton. I have been unsure if Harper would ever live up to the hype, but he’s proved me wrong with a monster first half. Stanton’s power makes him a must, while the third choice was a close call between Justin Upton, Starling Marte and Joc Pederson. I hope they all make it, maybe with Joc in CF and Stanton at DH.
MS:Â Bryce Harper, Giancarlo Stanton, Andrew McCutchen.Â Harper and Stanton are pretty much unarguable, other than the latterâ€™s hand injury suffered this weekend meaning heâ€™ll actually miss the game. For the third spot, I considered putting Joc Pederson into the lineup after his captivating start to his Major League career with the Dodgers, but McCutchen has the longer track record and his performances so far this season are only a bit disappointing because of the very high standard weâ€™ve come to expect from him.
MG:Â If I could vote for a starting pitcher, I’d go with Max Scherzer, followed by Gerrit Cole and Zack Greinke, with Trevor Rosenthal as the closer.
MS:Â Max Scherzer.Â Itâ€™s difficult to take the position away from Clayton Kershaw, especially with him having another goodÂ season (ignoring his misleading win-loss record), but Scherzer has been everything the Nationals were hoping for when they signed him to such a lucrative contract this offseason.