The American League West figures to be well represented at the 2018 MLB All-Star Game at Nationals Park on July 17, with stars like Michael Trout and Jose Altuve among the front-runners to nab starting assignments for the AL squad. But the division is also home to a handful of
The American League West figures to be well represented at the 2018 MLB All-Star Game at Nationals Park on July 17, with stars like Michael Trout and Jose Altuve among the front-runners to nab starting assignments for the AL squad. But the division is also home to a handful of stealthier candidates who are quietly making their own cases for inclusion.
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Here's a look at each club's best under-the-radar All-Star candidate:
A's: 2B Jed Lowrie
The case for him: Yet again, "Steady Jed" is quietly putting together another productive season at the plate. The infielder has never been an All-Star during his 10-year Major League career, but he's making a strong bid for his first selection. The 34-year-old veteran has been leading AL second basemen in OPS all season and ranks in the top 10 among all players in several offensive categories, including hits and RBIs.
Angels: SS Andrelton Simmons
The case for him: Despite his long-held reputation as one of the best defenders in baseball, Simmons has never been selected to an All-Star team since breaking into the Majors in 2012. He's certainly deserving this year, putting together his finest offensive season to date by batting .330 with a career-high .860 OPS, four home runs, 12 doubles, two triples and 34 RBIs through 59 games. Simmons also has more than twice as many walks (24) as strikeouts (10) and has struck out only twice since May 2. Though the Angels placed him on the disabled list Wednesday with a Grade 2 right ankle sprain, Simmons said he's hoping to only miss the requisite 10 days.
Astros: RHP Chris Devenski
The case for him: Most baseball fans probably couldn't tell you Devenski was an All-Star last season after posting an incredible first half as AJ Hinch's Swiss Army Knife out of the bullpen. The fearless right-hander is doing it once again this year, posting a 1.99 ERA in his first 24 games. No runner scored against Devenski in 19 of his first 22 outings. Right-handers have hit .194 against him, but he wiped out lefties (2-for-23).
Mariners: 2B Dee Gordon
The case for him: Seattle's new speedster is an interesting case as he's listed on the AL All-Star ballot at second base, even though he played the first seven weeks of the season in center field. But when Robinson Cano was suspended, Seattle moved Gordon back to his old second-base position, and that's where he landed on the ballot.
While Altuve figures as the clear favorite at second base, Gordon could draw more support at that position than in the crowded AL outfield battle. Despite missing nine games with a fractured toe, the 30-year-old leads the AL in stolen bases, has been hitting around .300 all season and has been an igniter for a Mariners offense that has played well enough to make Seattle one of the surprise teams in MLB in the first two months.
Gordon isn't a stranger to the All-Star Game. He was a two-time National League All-Star -- for the Dodgers in 2014 and Marlins in '15 -- at second base.
Rangers: OF Nomar Mazara
The case for him: Mazara had a strong May, and if he follows that up in June, he could draw strong All-Star consideration. In 29 games in May, he hit .270 with 10 home runs, 23 RBIs, a .357 on-base percentage and a .622 slugging percentage. His .979 OPS was 12th in the league and he was the Rangers Player of the Month. Mazara will need a strong June to reinforce his case, but he's a future All-Star in the making.
Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.