Ranking the most compelling first-time ASG starter candidates

June 9th, 2024

Read our story on the balloting format, which includes two phases of fan voting to determine the All-Star starters.

As you examine your 2024 MLB All-Star ballot, consider how many players have a chance to break into the starting lineup for the first time. As Mookie Betts and Bryce Harper now play in the infield, there are outfield spots ostensibly up for grabs in the National League. Some midsummer Classic mainstays such as Nolan Arenado and Manny Machado have not posted their typically great numbers thus far. Mike Trout, who has the most All-Star selections among active players, is injured. The same goes for last year's NL MVP, Ronald Acuña Jr.

So we might see a few new names on the lineup cards at Globe Life Field come July 16. A bunch of hitters have built good cases for why they should start the All-Star Game for the first time, and we've ranked the best ones below. We considered one player per position -- with one notable exception -- and included honorable mentions where appropriate.

Here are the 11 most compelling candidates to be a first-time All-Star starter.

All stats updated through Friday's games.

1. or , AL shortstop
There is no way we can choose only one possible first-timer here. In the Orioles' Henderson and the Royals' Witt, you have two of the game's brightest young stars, each of whom ranks among the top five in fWAR and would lead their respective clubs into the playoffs if the season ended today.

Henderson belted 28 homers as the American League's Rookie of the Year in 2023. This season, he is on pace for 49 dingers in his age-23 season. Only two players in AL/NL history have crushed that many long balls at such a young age: Mark McGwire (49 homers in 1987) and Prince Fielder (50 homers in 2007).

Witt, who turns 24 on Friday, paces the AL in batting average and is pushing for his second straight 30-homer, 30-steal season. Moreover, with seven triples already, Witt could become the first player in AL/NL history with multiple 30-30 seasons that also included double-digit triples. Choosing between these two players may be the toughest decision on the ballot.

Honorable mention: , Yankees

2. , AL outfield
Aaron Judge and Juan Soto are plenty deserving here, but as long as Tucker's shin injury doesn't keep him out for too long, make room for him on your ballot. The Astros star sits directly behind those Yankees teammates with the third-best slugging percentage (.584), OPS (.979) and wRC+ (177) in the AL. An All-Star reserve in each of the past two seasons, Tucker's chase rate has improved every year since 2021 and now sits at just 15.9%, second-lowest among players who have seen at least 400 pitches out of the strike zone. That top-notch discipline forces opposing pitchers to attack Tucker in the zone, where he has a .642 slugging percentage.

Honorable mentions: , Red Sox; , Guardians

3. , NL catcher
This position could be a duel between Smith and Brewers backstop William Contreras. But whereas Conteras started behind the plate in the 2022 Midsummer Classic, Smith's lone All-Star appearance came as a reserve last year. Among NL catchers, he is at the top of the leaderboard in home runs (nine), slugging percentage (.500) and OPS (.856) while his 25 extra-base hits and 2.5 fWAR narrowly trail Milwaukee's masher. The top three names in the Dodgers' lineup garner a lot of attention, but Los Angeles has one of the game's best-hitting catchers right behind them.

4. , NL outfield
Since being named MLB's No. 1 prospect in 2013, Profar's baseball odyssey over the next 10 years included stints on four franchises, only one season with more than 150 games played and none with a wRC+ better than 113. In 2024 -- the second year of his second go-around with the Padres -- Profar is enjoying what is easily his best big league season. The switch-hitter has registered a 167 wRC+ and an NL-best .418 on-base percentage while playing in each of San Diego's 67 games. He seems poised to not only make his first All-Star Game but do it in the home park of the team that signed him as a 16-year-old amateur free agent back in 2009. Profar's breakout at age 31 is undoubtedly one of the best storylines to follow on the ballot.

5. , NL third base
So-so seasons from Arenado, Machado and Austin Riley have opened the door for Bohm to be an All-Star starter at the hot corner. Not that he's needed much help. He entered May with a phenomenal .366/.438/.598 slash line, and his 23 doubles this season lead the Majors. Even as he has cooled off since his stellar April, Bohm has accumulated a run value far better than any other National League third baseman. He is one of the reasons why the Phillies find themselves with the NL's best record.

Honorable mentions: , Brewers; , Rockies

6. , AL designated hitter
Rooker bopped five homers during the season's first month, but his overall production by the end of April was rather tepid. He sported a .206 average and a .299 on-base percentage as he entered May. Since then, however, he's produced a .308/.390/.575 slash line with seven more homers. It has all contributed to a 158 wRC+, which is 10th-best in MLB. Oakland closer Mason Miller is drawing a lot of eyeballs for the fire he's bringing on the mound, but don't overlook Rooker, who is among the sport's most fearsome sluggers right now.

Honorable mention: , Guardians

7. , AL third base
The Rays, a top-five scoring offense last season, sit in the bottom 10 in runs and OPS in 2024 as many of their lineup stalwarts have underachieved. Not Paredes, however. His 151 wRC+ is tied for 12th in the Majors, and he's among the top 20 in on-base percentage (.377) and OPS (.866). A year after he clubbed 30 home runs, Paredes is on pace for 25 dingers and showing why he deserves a trip to the All-Star Game.

Honorable mentions: , Orioles; , Rangers

8. , NL second base
The 24-year-old Gorman has turned his season around after a slow first month. Just how good has he been? Since May 1, he owns a 171 wRC+, a .630 slugging percentage, a .427 weighted on-base average and a 25% barrel rate. All of those rank inside the top five in the bigs (minimum 100 plate appearances). The lefty slugger is up to 14 homers on the year, nine of which have come in his past 18 games. If Gorman does receive a starting nod, he would be the youngest Cardinal to start an All-Star Game since 23-year-old Albert Pujols did so in 2003.

Honorable mention: , Brewers

9. , AL catcher
This could be a really competitive race, with eight-time All-Star Salvador Perez trying to fend off multiple youngsters worthy of your vote. Though Jeffers has seen significant time at DH, his 12 homers are tied for the most among catchers, and his .823 OPS trails only Perez among AL backstops. He tallied only two hits in his first six games of the season and has been cold through five June games with the Twins. But if you take what's between those two bookends, you get a 45-game sample from Jeffers that includes a strong .280/.362/.593 slash line and 25 extra-base hits.

Honorable mention: , Orioles

10. , AL first base
Naylor deserves to be recognized for what he's done to lift the Guardians to first place in the AL Central. His 16 homers are the seventh-most in MLB and put him on track to smash his career high of 20, which he set in 2022. The 26-year-old got off to a blistering start this season as he made wiser swing decisions and better contact. Though his production has tapered off lately, Naylor's .512 expected slugging percentage still resides inside the top 25 among qualified hitters.

Honorable mention: , Orioles