Predicting which Braves will be All-Stars

July 7th, 2022

This story was excerpted from Mark Bowman’s Braves Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

As I was recently talking to Kyle Wright about the dates for this year’s MLB Draft, I brought up that Dansby Swanson was taken with the first overall pick the same day Vanderbilt won a NCAA Super Regional back in 2015.

Wright responded, “I know, I was there.”

Oh yeah. I forgot.

Anyhow, it has been cool to see these two Vandy products flourish this year and position themselves to possibly both gain All-Star selections. Wright would be elected through player balloting or selected as one of the Commissioner Office’s picks. Swanson has a chance to be elected as the National League’s starting shortstop.

Swanson, catcher Travis d’Arnaud, second baseman Ozzie Albies, outfielder Adam Duvall and designated hitter William Contreras all advanced past Phase 1 of fan balloting last week and now find themselves as part of the All-Star Ballot Finals.

Ronald Acuña Jr. earned a starting spot because he drew more votes than any other National League player when Phase 1 of the balloting process ended last week.

When the first update for the current balloting was announced Wednesday afternoon, Swanson held a slim edge over the Dodgers’ Trea Turner. But each of the other Braves finalists have a lot of ground to make up before voting concludes Friday at 2 p.m. ET.

Swanson has been one of the NL’s most valuable players during the season’s first half and he is certainly deserving to be a starter in what would be his first All-Star Game appearance. The Braves' veteran ranks among the NL’s top four players in fWAR (Fangraphs’ Wins Above Replacement Model) and his 6 Outs Above Average are far better than Turner’s -5 OAA.

You can make strong arguments for Swanson and d’Arnaud to both be in the NL’s starting lineup. The d’Arnaud argument is a little more challenging as he is opposed by the Cubs’ Willson Contreras.

Yeah, it would be cool to see both William and Willson Contreras make the All-Star team. But if William doesn’t beat Bryce Harper in the Ballot Finals, the designated hitter position could be filled by Pete Alonso or Paul Goldschmidt, whichever of the two is not elected to be the NL’s starting first baseman.

Max Fried seems to be the only Braves pitcher who is a lock to be part of the NL’s pitching staff. Wright might currently be part of the First Four Out group. Braves manager Brian Snitker might like to take these two starters and possibly A.J. Minter and Kenley Jansen out of his bullpen. But the All-Star managers no longer make those decisions.

So, for now, I’ll predict Acuña, Swanson, d’Arnaud and Fried will be joining Snitker. But I won’t be surprised if Wright and Austin Riley both add to the Braves' presence at this year’s Midsummer Classic.