The most deserving ASG candidates, by position
All right, let's take a step back and give an honest to look at the Esurance All-Star Game Ballot. Let's go through each position in each league and attempt to identify the most clearly deserving candidates for your clicks, based primarily on 2015 output, but with career track record also a factor.
American League first baseman
Hey, we love Eric Hosmer (career-high .833 OPS), but let's hear it for the old guys! Miguel Cabrera, at 32, has a .344/.444/.595 slash line to go with 14 homers, 13 doubles and 47 RBIs. He might not win another Triple Crown, but he's adding to his reputation as the greatest hitter in the game today. His old lineup mate, Prince Fielder, has bounced back from neck surgery in a big way, with a .341 batting average, .917 OPS, 10 homers and 13 doubles at age 31. And the 35-year-old Mark Teixeira is having a renaissance with a .948 OPS, 18 homers, 13 doubles and 48 RBIs. Albert Pujols is also turning back the clock with 18 homers, if you want to go that route.
My pick: Cabrera
National League first baseman
Paul Goldschmidt is the gold standard here, with a .366/.484/.687 slash line, 18 homers and 15 doubles. Anthony Rizzo is still the heart and soul of that evolving Cubs lineup, with a .307/.423/.556 slash and 32 extra-base hits. Joey Votto (.952 OPS, 14 homers) has bounced back in a big way this year, and Adrian Gonzalez (.933, 11 homers, 22 doubles) has never been better.
My pick: Goldschmidt
AL second baseman
Jason Kipnis' magnificent May aids his .335 average and .913 OPS. The Twins' Brian Dozier, who entered the week as the AL's extra-base hits leader, has a .883 OPS. And though Jose Altuve isn't on pace to win another batting title, he is leading the league with 17 stolen bases to help spark the surprise Astros.
My pick: Altuve. The upstart Astros deserve a starter, and he is the best choice. Kipnis is also deserving of a spot on the AL roster.
NL second baseman
Dee Gordon is loving that spacious setup at Marlins Park, where he's smacked his way to a .352 average and then terrorized opposing pitchers with 22 stolen bases. And two 24-year-olds (born within 20 days of each other) have been big keys to the continued excellence of the Cardinals and Giants, respectively -- Kolten Wong (.295/.348/.457 slash) and Joe Panik (.311/.374/.478).
My pick: Gordon
No slam-dunk choices in the post-Derek Jeter era, but Jose Iglesias has ridden a high batting average on balls in play to a high batting average, period. He's batting .341 and is close to reaching enough at-bats to qualify for the batting title. Marcus Semien (.728 OPS) and Xander Bogaerts (.729) have the highest OPS marks among qualifiers at the position, while Jose Reyes (.300 average and 9 steals in 10 attempts) has been stellar for the surging Jays despite a rib injury sidelining him for much of May.
My pick: Iglesias
One of my favorite of the All-Star positional battles. Jhonny Peralta (.316/.375/.513 slash, 10 homers, 16 doubles) has the statistical edge on Brandon Crawford (.286/.352/.487, nine homers, 14 doubles), but Crawford's defense is really something special. A healthy Troy Tulowitzki (.821 OPS) is also the total package. Bummer that Zack Cozart (.769 OPS) got hurt.
My pick: Peralta
AL third baseman
This might be a controversial opinion, but I think the Blue Jays have reason to be happy with the Josh Donaldson trade. He's got 17 homers and a .309/.362/.564 slash, giving him the highest OPS among qualifiers at the position by about 100 points. Mike Moustakas has figured out lefties and the shift en route to an .830 OPS. And Manny Machado has put his knee troubles behind him to get off to a really strong start (.282/.341/.477 slash with 11 homers and 12 doubles) for the O's.
My pick: Donaldson
NL third baseman
In a perfect world, the All-Star Game's host city not only has a representative in the starting lineup but a deserving representative in the starting lineup. Todd Frazier (.956 OPS, 18 homers, 19 doubles, 39 RBIs) perfectly fits the profile. The only guy close to him in WAR is the Rockies' defensive dynamo Nolan Arenado, who has 16 homers and 12 doubles (11 of those homers came on the road, for those thinking he's a Coors Field product). Matt Carpenter (.861 OPS) is also excellent, and Kris Bryant (.885) is living up to the hype.
My pick: Frazier
Two qualified AL catchers own OPS marks above .800 -- Toronto's offseason addition Russell Martin (10 homers, 12 doubles, 34 RBIs) and late-blooming A's backstop Stephen Vogt (12 homers, seven doubles, 45 RBIs). Brian McCann (.794 OPS) has put up really nice numbers for the Yankees, and Salvador Perez (.776 OPS, 10 homers, 10 doubles, 29 RBIs) is one of the great young leaders in the game on the defending AL champs.
My pick: Toss-up between Martin and Perez
Any of you ever heard of Buster Posey? Apparently he's won three rings and an MVP? Anyway, he's got an .823 OPS with nine homers for the defending champs. Several offseason additions have made instant impacts in the NL (see Francisco Cervelli and Yasmani Grandal). But the Padres' Derek Norris (.758 OPS, 18 doubles) and the Cubs' Miguel Montero (.832 OPS) particularly stand out.
My pick: Posey
AL designated hitter
Nelson Cruz might have cooled from his ridiculous start, but that doesn't make it any less ridiculous. He's got a .953 OPS, 18 homers and 40 RBIs. Beyond that, it's a battle for second place, and I've got to give a tip of the cap to the suddenly ageless Alex Rodriguez (.869 OPS, 12 homers) and Kendrys Morales (.795 OPS, seven homers, 18 doubles).
My pick: Cruz
Mike Trout (.958 OPS, 18 homers, 13 doubles, 39 RBIs) is such an obvious choice for an AL starting spot that not even Royals fans have been able to unseat him yet. Josh Reddick (.307 average, 10 homers, 10 doubles), Yoenis Cespedes (.310/.344/.508 slash) and Adam Jones (.301/.342/.494) have had some scorching stretches. If you want to talk about all-around impact, then Alex Gordon and Lorenzo Cain deserve the love they're getting. Jose Bautista has battled injuries to post an .906 OPS with 13 homers and 13 doubles for the Blue Jays.
My picks: Trout and Jones are locks for me, jury is still out between Cespedes, Bautista and Gordon.
You know the game is in good hands when you watch Bryce Harper (1.185 OPS, 21 homers, 51 RBIs), Giancarlo Stanton (.955 OPS, 23 homers, 59 RBIs) and Joc Pederson (.928 OPS, 17 homers) in action. Stanton is 25, Pederson is 23 and Harper is 22. Yowzas. Meanwhile, Andrew McCutchen (.853 OPS) has recovered from his slow April, and Justin Upton (.844, 13 homers) hasn't been adversely affected by the move to Petco Park. The D-backs' dynamo A.J. Pollock doesn't get nearly as much national attention as any of those guys, but the numbers (.319/.362/.492 slash) should speak for themselves.
My picks: Harper, Stanton, Pederson