A handy guide to filling out your All-Star ballot

June 12th, 2024

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

We all have different ways to fill out our All-Star ballots, but here is mine: At the end of a long day, I like to sit down at my desk, pour a tasty beverage and really reflect long and hard on each position, like I’m reading a chapter in a book I don’t want to put down. I really like to savor it.

I try to take all factors into account: How great a 2024 season a player is having, how great their career has been, how much name recognition the player has, how much I, personally, would just love to watch that individual player. It’s highly subjective, like almost everything is. But I do my best to try to take it seriously.

This year, when I sat down to do my ballot, I discovered that some categories required a lot less time than others. Some decisions were not really decisions at all. You may find yourself thinking the same thing. So, if you are hoping to have a similar sit-down-and-really-reflect ballot-filling experience like me but you want to save some time, I thought I’d put together a handy guide for the refined voter, a way to streamline the decision-making process.

Thus, for each league, I will rank the selections from easiest to hardest. As simple as it looks at the top, it just gets tougher all the way down. (All stats below are through Tuesday).


Picks: (NYY), (NYY), (HOU)

It is quite relaxing to have a category in which the answers are so obvious that it essentially requires no thought at all. This might have been more difficult if Mike Trout hadn’t gotten hurt. But because he did, and with Tucker set to return later this week from a brief IL stint, let’s just slot these three in and move on.

Designated hitter
Pick: (HOU)

Traditionally, this vote has been quite easy. Shohei Ohtani won the AL DH vote in each of the past three seasons, and just four players (Ohtani, David Ortiz, Edgar Martinez and Nelson Cruz) have won nearly three-quarters of the all-time votes here. (DH was first a voting category in 1997, and only became one on an annual basis in 2010.)

Now that Ohtani is out of the way in the NL, the pick this year … is still obvious. While some other candidates are having strong seasons, Alvarez has been one of the Majors’ best hitters since basically the moment he arrived in 2019, and he’s been heating up again of late. One suspects this guy is going to reign as long as, if not longer, than his forebears.

Second base
Pick: (HOU)

From 2010-18, only two players ruled this category: Robinson Canó (five straight ballot wins) and Altuve (four straight). Altuve hasn’t started the All-Star Game since, although he did win the voting in ‘22 before pulling out due to injury. This year, he’s the easy pick, and frankly, he’s probably going to get my Hall of Fame vote someday. The Astros have had problems this year, but he’s certainly not one of them. The Royals’ Michael Massey, surprisingly, has the highest OPS in this category (but in only 110 plate appearances), and the Rangers’ Marcus Semien is a perpetual contender (and last year’s winner). But this is the year to see the 34-year-old Altuve in the starting lineup again.

First base
Pick: (TOR)

This is a category that, a few years ago, felt like it would be dominated by Guerrero for the next decade. He won in 2021-22 and was a finalist last year before losing to the Rays’ Yandy Díaz, who was having an incredible season. But this time around, Díaz is struggling, and Guerrero’s main competition appears to be the Orioles’ Ryan Mountcastle and the Guardians’ Josh Naylor. But nobody in the field has done quite enough to overcome me wanting to see Vlad Jr. in the All-Star Game again, particularly when he is hardly having a bad year. (The power has yet to click, but he’s batting .342 since April 27.) Maybe one of these years Vladdy will finally make this whole conversation moot.

Pick: (BAL)

It has been a fantastic season for catchers in both leagues; it’s amazing how many catchers are among the league leaders in offensive categories this year. Your four major contenders are Rutschman, the Royals’ Salvador Perez, the Twins’ Ryan Jeffers and the Red Sox’s Connor Wong.

Jeffers has fallen off a bit of late, and Wong, as excellent as he has been, is a little too unproven for me. Perez has started the All-Star Game six times in his career (twice as an injury replacement), and you certainly can’t begrudge anyone who votes for him again, considering he’s having a throwback year well into his 30s. But the next era of his position, as far as I’m concerned, is Rutschman, the man who will forever represent the turnaround of the Orioles’ franchise. And he hasn’t won yet. It’s time.

Third Base
Pick: José Ramírez (CLE)

This one is pretty rough because you can’t go wrong with any of three guys: Ramírez, the Red Sox’s Rafael Devers or the Orioles’ Jordan Westburg. (If you want to make a case for the Rays’ Isaac Paredes, you can do that as well.) Devers is putting up the best numbers, and Westburg has blown people away with his breakout, but I find myself leaning toward Ramírez for three reasons. 1) He’s the leader of one of the best teams in baseball and should represent them on this grand stage. 2) He’s perpetually underappreciated and probably should have won the AL MVP Award in 2020. 3) He hasn’t been voted in by fans since ’18, which is remarkable. Ramírez should be one of the faces of this sport, so by the smallest of margins over Devers, my vote is to help make him one.

Pick: (KC)

This one is … pretty much impossible? The Rangers’ Corey Seager is incredible and just led his team to its first World Series title. The Yankees’ Anthony Volpe is increasingly one of the most visible figures in the sport, making big strides from his rookie year. Witt is having an incredible season for a team that has shocked everyone and looks very much like the real deal. Oh, and the Orioles’ Gunnar Henderson has the second-most homers in the Majors, behind only Judge.

So let’s drop one at a time. Volpe has been great, but his numbers don’t quite compare to the other three. He’s out. Seager is a step or two behind the other two, and his team is wobbly so far, which is not his fault but is nevertheless true. So, Witt or Gunnar? As tempted as I am to flip a coin, I’m going to go with … Witt, by a chin hair. This is a player who might just be the next George Brett for a signature MLB franchise that is having a breakthrough season. The world needs to be vividly aware. But again, there is no wrong answer here.


Designated hitter
Pick: (LAD)

The Braves’ Marcell Ozuna is having a truly fantastic season. But get real.

Pick: (LAD)

There are a number of exciting young challengers here, including Masyn Winn of the Cardinals, Elly De La Cruz of the Reds, Oneil Cruz of the Pirates, CJ Abrams of the Nationals and Ezequiel Tovar of the Rockies. But just go ahead and pick Mookie and move on to the next category, it’s fine.

First Base
Pick: (PHI)

The Dodgers’ Freddie Freeman has won four out of the past five ballots, of course for two different teams. He’s raking again this year and is thus a safe, reasonable pick. The problem, however, is that after spending years on the ballot as an outfielder (and one year as a DH), Harper is at first base now. As much fun as it is to pick Freeman, with how Harper is hitting and the Phillies are playing, I don’t know how you don’t pull the lever for him.

Pick: (MIL)

Again, like in the AL, there are lots of catchers knocking the ball around. If he hadn’t gotten hurt, the Cardinals’ Willson Contreras might be the pick here, considering he has the highest OPS of anyone at this spot. Instead, it’s down to two catchers who, like Willson, have been All-Stars before: his brother William of the Brewers and Will Smith of the Dodgers. Smith has been the four-hole hitter in a mighty L.A. lineup, and he has delivered in that spot. But William, it turns out, is the player having the best season of anyone from that massive Sean Murphy trade in 2022. The Brewers wouldn’t be in first place without him.

Third base
Pick: (PHI)

This is one of two NL categories where it’s difficult to pick someone not because there are so many great choices but because nobody clearly stands out from the pack. Certainly, name recognition isn’t a problem: Everybody knows the Padres’ Manny Machado, the Cardinals’ Nolan Arenado, the Braves’ Austin Riley and the Giants’ Matt Chapman. The problem is that none of those guys is really having an All-Star-caliber season.

The Dodgers’ Max Muncy would be a possibility, but he’s out with an oblique strain. I’m tempted to go with the Brewers’ Joey Ortiz, who has been a linchpin of that offense. But I find myself leaning once again toward the best team in MLB, the one that has all the vibes right now. Bohm is so much a part of Phillies culture at this point that he once insulted the fans and now they adore him and it’s all just Phils lore now. For a lack of overwhelming options, he’s the pick.

Second base
Pick: (SD)

The knee-jerk pick here is the Padres’ Arraez, who is an absolute joy to watch and remains a player unlike any other in today’s game. (Plus, he won last year.) The Braves’ Ozzie Albies is probably the most famous player here, but he’s not putting up the best numbers of his career. The Cardinals’ Nolan Gorman has the most homers of any second baseman, the Brewers’ Brice Turang the most stolen bases (and second-highest average after Arraez), Bryson Stott is the cog that keeps that whole Phillies machine running and the D-backs’ Ketel Marte was a star during the World Series and has the highest OPS of anyone at this position on the ballot. Arraez, Turang and Marte feel like the finalists here. When in doubt, when it’s this close … I’ll go with the guy I want to see play the most.

Picks: (SD), (LAD), (MIL)

Remember when this was easy, thanks to big names such as Ronald Acuña Jr., Betts, Harper and Soto? Well, two of those players are now at another position, one’s in the AL and one is out for the season and not even on the ballot. Then there’s the D-backs’ Corbin Carroll, whom everyone assumed would be an obvious pick for the second year in a row but instead has a sub-.600 OPS.

So how do we do this? Let’s see. I’m going to go with Tatis, the closest thing we have to a marquee name who has the third-highest OPS of qualified NL outfielders, and Hernández, the other Dodgers free agent signee this offseason who just won the NL Player of the Week Award.

For the final spot … hmmm. The highest OPS among qualified outfielders belongs to the Padres’ Jurickson Profar, who is having a great year, but I just don’t think I can vote for a guy just for having a hot first half. In that case, this will come down to two NL MVP Award winners who have enjoyed better seasons and have missed time due to injury this year but are still key parts of contending teams. That would be Cody Bellinger and Yelich. We’ll go with Yelich, who has hit quite well when healthy. But honestly, your guess is as good as mine here.