Read our FAQ on this year’s revamped balloting format, which includes two phases of fan voting to determine the All-Star starters, and the ability to vote through Google Search.
But if you are the sort of person who likes to reward the top performances from the first third of this season, rather than treat the All-Star Game as a career performance award, there are some clear, largely definitive answers as to how to fill out your ballot. Thus, here is what I’d argue is the best possible ballot based off what we’ve seen so far this season. My colleague Mike Petriello has done his best to project the actual All-Star roster. (It’s one of my favorite things Mike does every year.)
Now, though: We’re just thinking about your ballot.
American League: Carlos Santana, Indians
National League: Josh Bell, Pirates
The American League has a surprising paucity of quality first basemen right now; Santana is a mostly default choice, edging out Luke Voit, Edwin Encarnacion and C.J. Cron by virtue of leading them in OPS. The National League has no such issue. Bell’s monster breakthrough season (.345 batting average and 18 homers) edges him above Pete Alonso, Anthony Rizzo and Freddie Freeman. Heck, Paul Goldschmidt and Joey Votto aren’t even all that close for consideration.
American League: Tommy La Stella, Angels
National League: Ketel Marte, Diamondbacks
It might seem strange to have two Angels -- because Trout is obviously coming later -- considering the team was three games under .500 entering Thursday, but what La Stella is doing cannot be ignored. (Brandon Lowe is another acceptable answer here.) Marte has been one of the quiet keys to the Diamondbacks’ positive start, though it is totally understood if you want to write in Derek Dietrich here.
American League: Alex Bregman, Astros
National League: Nolan Arenado, Rockies
Matt Chapman has the defensive otherworldliness, but Bregman is tied for the AL lead in home runs and might be the best player on an absolutely stacked team. (And Hunter Dozier is out-slugging both of them.) In the National League, it’s all the usual suspects, though Arenado outlasts Kris Bryant and Anthony Rendon. But in the NL, with Josh Donaldson and Manny Machado hanging around, there are no real wrong answers.
American League: Jorge Polanco, Twins
National League: Javier Báez, Cubs
Polanco has emerged as the pinnacle of his position in a similar fashion to how his team has announced itself as one of the best in baseball this year; he’s actually one of the easiest All-Star picks there is. The National League is a little tighter, but a recent slump by Paul DeJong -- not to mention his team’s implosion in May -- clears plenty of room for Baez, who remains one of the most purely enjoyable players to watch in the whole sport.
American League: Gary Sánchez, Yankees
National League: Willson Contreras, Cubs
All apologies to James McCann -- who is hitting .349! -- Robinson Chirinos and Mitch Garver, both of whom are having excellent starts, but it feels like you have to vote for a Yankee, and Sanchez’s resurgence is one of the main reasons that team has weathered all its injuries. Contreras has become the bat the Cubs always dreamed he would be, even if the glove still isn’t quite all the way there.
If you’re looking to introduce baseball to aliens visiting the planet for the first time -- and apparently this is now something to actually think about! -- you really couldn’t go wrong with these six players. They are all perfect representations of how the sport is played right now. In the NL, Yelich would be the easy MVP leader in any other season; Acuna looks like he’ll be playing in All-Star Games for the next 15 years and Bellinger has basically broken the sport. In the AL, Trout is obvious, an elemental force of nature at this point; Gallo has put together all the disparate aspects of his game to become a terrifying plate presence (and a better outfielder than people realize) and Betts is the reigning MVP who is still probably only hanging onto this spot because George Springer is hurt. It’s exciting just thinking about watching all these guys in the same outfield.
American League: J.D. Martinez, Red Sox
Martinez is the clear choice here. You can’t vote for NL DH, but if you could … this might be a nice spot to see what Alonso or Bryant could do, no?