With one month of the MLB season completely in the books, it is time to focus on the possible selections for the 2017 All-Star Game. Players strive to succeed during the months of April, May, and June to be able to play in the Mid-Season Classic that determines home field advantage for the World Series matchup in October. There are 35 players from both the American League and the National League that get selected to participate in this game. It is an honor to be able to play in a game that not only means so much to have home field in the World Series, but it is a good place to be able to get to know other players around the league on a personal level.
The All-Star game is a chance for fans to be able to show support for their hometown guys who get the opportunity to play in the Mid-Season Classic, and it also gives fans a chance to see some players play that they have not seen play before. The 2017 MLB All-Star Game is being played in Miami this year, and it is going to bring some special memories to certain players who are first-time all-stars and who have been there before. With that being said there are some players who are having magnificent seasons and they could be making their first all-star appearance, and then there are former all-stars who are struggling, and could not be there this year. Here are predictions for 8 first-time all-stars and 7 former all-stars that won’t be there.
15 First-Time – Kevin Pillar (Toronto)
The center fielder from Toronto has been more known for his work in the field, but this year you can see the improvement that he has made in his hitting. He is currently hitting over .300. Pillar is one of the bright spots for a struggling Toronto team who is currently in last place in the AL East. The Blue Jays had high expectations coming into this season and some of their guys, just are not hitting the way they can at the moment, but Pillar is picking up a little bit of the slack.
Among AL outfielders Pillar is currently, second in hits, and third in doubles. His home run and run production is not all-star caliber at the moment, but look for him to make a big push to become a first-time all-star.
14 Won’t – Asdrubal Cabrera (New York Mets)
Asdrubal Cabrera a former two-time all-star (2011,2012) has had a pretty good start to his 2017 season, but he has been inconsistent since his hot start. Cabrera in the month of April finished with a .244 batting average to go along with 2 home runs and 10 runs batted in. He had four multi-hit games, and others he has struggled to even get on base. Cabrera has the potential to produce at a high level even at the age of 31.
Unfortunately, for Cabrera I see some serious struggles coming his way due to potential injury, or the current injury (thumb) to keep him out of some time. I see Cabrera on the Disabled List going into the All-Star break, and not playing enough games to be able to get voted in due to lack of games played.
13 First-Time – Zack Cozart (Cincinnati)
Zack Cozart has been known for hot starts to start off the year, and then he cools off and everybody forgets about him, but this year is a whole different situation. Cozart plays for the current first-place (due to change) Cincinnati Reds and has been a big part of their lineup so far, this season. In the National League among shortstops, he currently ranks first in batting average, tied for first in hits, first in doubles and first in triples.
Cozart has been one of the better hitting shortstops so far in the National League, and I see his play only improving. Do I think that he will start over Corey Seager, NO, but I do see him making his way as a reserve to make his first all-star appearance, Yes, I do. Look for Cozart to continue his success into the all-star breaks and be a huge reason why the Reds make a playoff push.
12 Won’t – Adrian Gonzalez (Los Angeles Dodgers)
Adrian Gonzalez is a former five time all-star (2008-2011, 2015) and has been a big part of the Dodgers lineup over the past few seasons until this year. Gonzalez currently is making his first career DL stint in his illustrious fourteenth season in the MLB. In 29 games in which he has played this season (as of this writing) Gonzalez is batting .255 with no home runs and 11 runs batted in, which is not like Adrian Gonzalez at all.
Even if he was putting up Adrian Gonzalez like numbers I still don’t think that he would be an all-star selection this season. There are so many talented young first basemen in the National League, that will be more likely to make it than Adrian Gonzalez. You can’t take anything away from Gonzalez. He definitely still has a few good years left in him, but I just don’t see him returning to the All-Star Game this season.
11 First-Time – Carlos Correa (Houston)
The 22-year-old phenom from the Houston Astros bursted onto the scene in 2015, and has not looked back since. This season, I looked for Correa to breakout in a way that would solidify himself as the number one shortstop in the American League, and so far, I am liking what I am seeing. Among shortstops, Correa currently ranks third in the American League in batting average, fifth in hits, second in doubles, and tied for first in runs batted in.
He has helped Houston bounce back after their rough 2016 season, and look for him to continue to do the same by the end of the season. Carlos Correa could be the starting shortstop for the American League in this year’s All-Star Game, but if he is not he will definitely be a reserve this year.
10 Won’t – Jackie Bradley Jr. (Boston)
Jackie Bradley Jr. was an all-star in 2016, and had a breakout year at the plate. This year he is looking back to normal as he is struggling to say the least. He has missed some time due to a knee injury, but so far in 2017 but of the games in which he has appeared in, he is batting .238 while tallying two home runs and six runs batted in. Bradley is starting to look like last season was a fluke, as he is struggling at the plate like he was in the beginning of his career.
The center fielder is one of the top five defensive outfielders in the Major League, but his inconsistency at the plate is going to cost him in the long haul. He will miss out on All-Star Games, on a new contract, and earning the big-time outfielder’s money if he can’t figure out how to fix his hitting woes.
9 First-Time – Jose Ramirez (Cleveland)
Jose Ramirez has been one of the biggest breakout players that still is not known in most households just yet. Ramirez is a 24-year-old third basemen for the Cleveland Indians and was a pivotal part of the run in the playoffs a season ago.
He has been one of if not the best third basemen in the American League, and could easily be a first-time all-star this season. I can see Ramirez getting voted in as a reserve for the American League, but you should see him wearing the American League across his chest in Miami come mid-July. There's no doubt that the Indians's success for the rest of the season will hinge partly on how well Ramirez holds the fort at third.
8 Won't - Carlos Gonzalez (Colorado)
Carlos Gonzalez aka “Cargo” has been one of the best hitting outfielder for the Colorado Rockies since they had Matt Holliday, but so far in 2017 he has not been the same guy that he has been since 2010. Gonzalez has appeared in 34 games so far and is hitting .213 with 2 home runs and 11 runs batted in. He has started slow in the past, but not this slow.
He is now 31 years old and definitely has some good years left in him, but as for this year this might be one of those years that he struggles in. With that being said I think there are way too many talented outfielders in the National League it is hard for me to see a struggling Carlos Gonzalez get voted in to join the National League in this year’s Mid-July Classic.
7 First-Time – Justin Turner (Los Angeles Dodgers)
Am I the only one surprised that Justin Turner has not made an all-star appearance yet? I believe that Justin Turner is not only one of the best third basemen in the National League, but one of the best third basemen in the MLB. Turner currently is ranked in the National League among third basemen; first in batting average, tied for sixth in runs, first in hits, first in doubles, and ninth in runs batted in.
Turner has been one of the better third basemen this season is right now is well deserving of his first all-star appearance. I believe Turner will be a reserve instead of a starter because I believe there is currently one third basemen that deserves the starting nod a little bit more, but I strongly believe that Justin Turner will be in Miami representing the National League.
6 Won't - Sonny Gray (Oakland)
Sonny Gray has not been the same since the 2015 season, and it is safe to say that he is still fighting old injuries that are holding him back from being able to pitch during his all-star season in 2015. He has had nagging injuries that have been holding him back of showing his true potential as a starting pitcher. Gray has been inconsistent since the start of the 2016 season, and this season has not been any different so far.
In his three starts so far this season, he is 0-1 with a 3.78 ERA, to go along with nine strikeouts. He still has a long way to go to be able to bounce back, but it doesn't look good so far. As a starting pitcher you only get a certain amount of starts, and to have him go through two starts so far with those numbers are not promising at the moment. Sonny Gray could bounce back to have an alright year, but he still won't be in Miami as an all-star this year.
5 First-Time - Andrew Benintendi (Boston)
The top rated prospect in baseball coming into this season, has played pretty solid for the Red Sox so far. He was thought to be a big time player in the Boston lineup, and so far he has not disappointed the Red Sox fan base.
Benintendi has been a bright spot at times for a Red Sox lineup who has been very hot and cold so far this season. He has helped get some guys going, but he is also the future of the Red Sox organization. While his game has taken a dip recently, expect him to bounce back and earn enough votes to head to Miami in July.
Look to hear Benintendi's name called in Miami as a reserve if not a starter in the All-Star Game.
4 Won't - Adam Wainwright (St. Louis)
Wainwright was one of the best pitchers in baseball from 2008-2014, and then an Achilles tendon injury would change everything. The former three time all-star (2010, 2013, 2014) suffered an Achilles tendon rupture and missed the majority of the 2015 season. Wainwright has not bounced back since that injury, yes he went 13-9 a year ago, but he also posted a 4.62 ERA which is not Wainwright like.
In 2017 so far, he has had his good starts and then his bad starts. Wainwright so far in 2017 has a 3-3 record with a 5.31 ERA, to go along with 36 strikeouts. Those stats definitely are not all-star numbers, and unfortunately for the 35-year-old Wainwright it seems that not only his time in St. Louis looks like it is coming to a close, but his time in the MLB looks to be dwindling down to its last little drop.
3 First-Time - J.T. Realmuto (Miami)
J.T Realmuto has been quietly been making a name for himself as he has been one of the best catchers not only in the National League, but in the MLB. His numbers speak volumes for his case as a first-time all-star, as he is hitting .303 while adding three home runs and 15 runs batted in.
He is making his case as a potential reserve. With the all-star game being in Miami, what better story to make not only your first all-star appearance, but to be able to start for the National League in front of the Miami Marlins fans? His play has taken a dip after a strong start in April but there's plenty of time for Realmuto to rebound and represent his franchise in their home stadium.
2 Won't - Jose Bautista (Toronto)
"Joey Bats" looks to be on his last legs, as he is not only struggling, but he is flat out in the biggest slump in his tenure in Toronto. Bautista is a former 6 time all-star (2010-2015), and has not been the same since taking that punch to the face from Rougned Odor. He has not played up to the level that we have expected from Bautista this season, and I don't know if he will be able to put up his usual numbers.
In order for Bautista to even be considered he is going to have to go on an absolute tear that he hasn't had in what seems like a very long time. In his 38 games played this season he is batting .182 while hitting five home runs and 17 runs batted in. Look for Bautista to struggle throughout the remainder of the season.
1 First-Time - Aaron Judge (New York Yankees)
Aaron Judge has bursted onto the scene so far this season, and is helping the Yankees start off the year on the right foot. His numbers are putting him in not only rookie of the year talks, but all-star talks as well. In the 28 games that he has played in he is hitting .316 while adding 14 home runs and 39 runs batted in.
Judge has been involved in the starting outfield for the American League, and he has been one of the best hitters in the MLB so far this season. Look for Judge to keep his hot streak of hitting going not only into the all-star break, but for the season as a whole. I can see Judge not only starting in Right Field for the American League All-Star Team, but I see him as a potential All-Star Game MVP.