Midsummer Classic voting will begin soon, so our staff reveals surprising names you could see on the field in Cleveland this July.
As the All-Star Game creeps ever closer, it's time to consider players who will take the field in Cleveland this July. Midsummer Classic staples like Mike Trout and Nolan Arenado will surely be there, but which selections are going to surprise us? Our MLB staff weighs in with an All-Star candidate we didn't expect to see on Opening Day.
I'm counting Anthony Rendon as a surprise because he owns the title of Best Active Player Never to be An All-Star. Tony Two-Bags leads the league in doubles (17), is third in slugging (.691) and OBP (.428).
Yes, Miami has to send someone, which makes lefthander Caleb Smith more or less an automatic pick—the perks of being the best player on baseball's worst team!—but even if that weren't the case, he'd still be a strong contender. Smith leads National League starters with 12 K/9, and he's near the top of other leaderboards with a 2.38 ERA (161 ERA+) and 0.89 WHIP.
The rules are the rules, and every team must have an All-Star. Even the Giants, a team full of All-Stars from yesteryear. That includes the multi-talented Pablo Sandoval—supposedly almost cut from the team at the end of spring training—who entered Wednesday as the only Giant batting north of .260 and is tied for the team lead in homers (seven) despite mostly pinch-hitting this season. Sure, San Francisco wields a few valuable bullpen arms that could warrant an All-Star selection instead. Just don't forget Pablo can pitch too.
It's not just that nobody thought Tommy La Stella would be an All-Star this year, but that every one of us would have said it was impossible before the season started. He has been the year's biggest shock—tied for the Angels' home run lead with 11 dingers despite having 10 in his first five seasons combined—and has a legitimate case to start the All-Star game. Voters will probably choose a more popular player to start for the AL (Jose Altuve), but either way, 3 a.m. Tommy will be in Cleveland come July.
He almost certainly will be, though probably not as a fan choice, but the Twins’ Jorge Polanco is assuredly an All-Star. He’s been not just the best shortstop in the American League (and arguably all of baseball, depending on how you feel about Javy Baez), but also one of the league’s best players period. His 2.9 bWAR ranks fifth among all players, and he leads the AL in batting average at .335 to go with eight homers and a 163 OPS+ as one of the main cogs in Minnesota’s ferocious offense. I don’t think many folks saw this coming, particularly after Polanco earned a PED suspension last season, but he deserves a spot on the Junior Circuit’s Midsummer Classic roster.