The next month is going to be frenzied. Who’s going to be voted into the All-Star Game? Who else is going to be on one of baseball’s grandest stages? Will anyone be healthy enough to still be standing by then?
But I tend to focus on All-Star as a unique and singular honor: Once you become an All-Star, they can never take that away from you. It is so incredibly difficult to make it to the Major Leagues, even for one at-bat. To make an All-Star Game marks you forever as a rare specimen, someone who exceled at the highest level -- even if it was just for a little while. (Hello, Bryan LaHair.) It makes you special. Because there was no All-Star Game in 2020, there is an extra classification of people who have never made an All-Star Game before -- even those who clearly deserve it. So today at the Thirty, we look at the best player on every team who has never made an All-Star team. Maybe this is the year!
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
Blue Jays: Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 1B
And let’s hope he is in the Home Run Derby, too. He put on a show there in 2019, finishing second to Pete Alonso. (Worth noting: Marcus Semien, who has also been terrific this year, has never made an All-Star Game, either.)
Orioles: Trey Mancini, 1B
He’d be an inspiring, very apt choice. And do not forget that John Means was the Orioles’ representative at the last All-Star Game, even though he’s an entirely different pitcher now.
Rays: Tyler Glasnow, SP
Imagine facing this guy fresh in, like, the sixth inning.
Red Sox: Rafael Devers, 3B
He has finished in the Top 12 in MVP voting before -- and sure looks like he will this year. But an All-Star Game has yet to happen for him.
Yankees: Chad Green, RP
Not surprisingly, the Yankees have a ton of former All-Stars, but the pride of Effingham, Ill., has been terrific this year. Luke Voit would be an option here if he weren’t hurt again.
AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL
Cleveland: Aaron Civale, SP
The next great Cleveland starter is ready for his breakthrough, just like so many Cleveland pitchers before him.
Royals: Danny Duffy, SP
Somehow, his decade in Kansas City never once got him on the roster. One suspects that’s about to change (as long as he can get healthy).
Tigers: Casey Mize, SP
Matthew Boyd is a tempting choice, but Mize is the future -- and exactly the guy the Tigers would love to show off.
Twins: Byron Buxton, OF
He has received MVP votes twice, but has never been on this stage before. As always, it’s all about whether he can get healthy.
White Sox: Yoán Moncada, 3B
It’s about time for Tim Anderson to finally make one of these, too, while we’re at it.
AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST
Angels: Shohei Ohtani, SP/DH
Oh, he better make it.
A’s: Matt Olson, 1B
He has been the best hitter on this team for a couple of years now -- and it’s time for the rest of us to catch up to that.
Astros: Yuli Gurriel, 1B
It has been quite a journey for him to become probably the best hitter on the Astros, but he sure is there at this point.
Mariners: Kyle Lewis, OF
He might not be back from the IL in time. But, so you know, Mitch Haniger has made an All-Star team before -- and so has Kyle Seager. (But only one.)
Rangers: Adolis García, OF
At the very least, let’s see him in that Home Run Derby.
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
Braves: Austin Riley, 3B
In a rough year for the Braves so far, Riley’s breakthrough has been an unquestioned positive.
Marlins: Trevor Rogers, SP
You can go with Jazz Chisholm or just about any player on this team having a good year (other than Starling Marte, who has been there before).
Mets: Taijuan Walker, SP
He never made an All-Star team in Seattle ... but he never pitched like this in Seattle.
Nationals: Juan Soto, OF
He has somehow never made an All-Star team. Neither has Trea Turner, for that matter -- and Turner might actually be more deserving this year.
Phillies: Zack Wheeler, SP
He has quietly morphed into one of the most consistent, high-end starters in MLB over the last few years.
NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL
Brewers: Corbin Burnes, SP
His fellow ace starter, Brandon Woodruff, actually gave up a run in the 2019 All-Star Game ... not that you noticed.
Cardinals: John Gant, SP
The follicly gifted, longtime swingman is having the best year of his career -- with a 1.60 ERA in 10 starts. He’s not throwing a lot of innings and the peripherals don’t love him, but he’s getting the job done so far. Pretty good for a guy drafted 10 years ago ... by the Mets! (The answer would be Jack Flaherty, but his recent oblique injury is likely going to keep him out of All-Star consideration.)
Cubs: Kyle Hendricks, SP
He obviously isn’t having his best season, but doesn’t it seem like he should have made an All-Star team by now? Just about every other Cub has.
Pirates: Bryan Reynolds, OF
There’s gotta be a Pirate. It’s his turn.
Reds: Nick Castellanos, OF
Somehow, Castellanos never was the representative when he was a Tiger. The move to the NL Central should finally pay off for him this year.
NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST
D-backs: Carson Kelly, C
He may end up in an All-Star dugout with Yadier Molina, the player he backed up for a few years.
Dodgers: Chris Taylor, UT
Maybe it’s time for the supersub-turned-superstar (he currently leads the NL in runs and has a 149 OPS+) to get the recognition he deserves.
Giants: Mike Yastrzemski, OF
You can go with Kevin Gausman, if you want. But how do you not want to see a Yastrzemski in the All-Star Game?
Padres: Fernando Tatis Jr., SS
Fair to say, this is the first of very many.
Rockies: Jon Gray, SP
He probably deserves one just for surviving as a pitcher in Colorado this long.