Is the All-Star ballot stressing you out? If you think it's difficult for you, imagine how difficult it is for the All-Star managers, who have to make sure they get at least one player from every team. Oftentimes, this leads to strange choices, like Alex Colome making the All-Star Game
Is the All-Star ballot stressing you out? If you think it's difficult for you, imagine how difficult it is for the All-Star managers, who have to make sure they get at least one player from every team. Oftentimes, this leads to strange choices, like Alex Colome making the All-Star Game instead of Evan Longoria, or Jonathan Schoop instead of Manny Machado. Getting everybody represented on the roster is tough, man.
So today at The Thirty, we look at the most deserving All-Star on every team. Some of these are obvious picks. Some of them will get pushed out by the roster crunch. But every single one of them, in a perfect world, would be on the team. They're all All-Stars in our hearts.
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
Blue Jays: J.A. Happ
Key stat: 10.23 K/9 (9th in AL)
It is more difficult to find a Blue Jays All-Star than one suspects Toronto fans would find optimal. Happ has been their best starter all season and has been particularly excellent of late. Plus, he's 35 and has never made an All-Star Game. And the way the Jays' season is going, Happ is not going to be Jay for much longer.
Orioles: Manny Machado
Key stat: .945 OPS (6th in AL)
Speaking of players who likely won't be on their current team come August, Machado's fantastic first two months makes this the easiest call on the board. He has been nearly as good as Chris Davis has been bad.
Rays: Blake Snell
Key stat: 2.58 ERA (5th in AL)
The year the Rays have been waiting for has finally arrived: Snell is actually better right now than Chris Archer has ever been. Every team in baseball salivates when it sees Snell pitch.
Red Sox: Mookie Betts
Key stat: .699 SLG percentage (1st in MLB)
J.D. Martinez may be second in the Majors in homers, and Chris Sale is Chris Sale, but Mookie is essentially the platonic ideal of what a baseball player should be right now.
Yankees: Aaron Judge
Key stat: 18 HR (tied for 5th in AL)
I'll listen to your Luis Severino arguments, and it's sort of amazing how Brett Gardner might be having the best year of his career at the age of 34, but Judge is a national monument at this point who is somehow matching his breakthrough 2017 season.
Indians: Corey Kluber
Key stat: 9.64 K/BB (1st in MLB)
You feel terrible leaving Jose Ramirez off here, but Kluber is having the best season of his career. Pretty impressive when you consider he has already won two AL Cy Young Awards.
Royals: Kelvin Herrera
Key stat: 0.7 BB/9 (2nd among MLB relievers)
Apologies to Whit Merrifield -- who is proving to be anything but a fluke -- but Herrera might be the most dominant closer in the game right now ... when he actually gets the opportunity to save a game.
Tigers: Matthew Boyd
Key stat: 6 HR allowed (tied for 2nd fewest in AL)
Boyd's success this year has mostly been with smoke and mirrors -- he actually has the lowest K rate of his career and has been helped mostly by defense and batted ball luck -- but it's undeniable that he has been the Tigers' best starter, and maybe their most steady performer.
Twins: Eddie Rosario
Key stat: .579 SLG percentage (tied for 5th in AL)
Eduardo Escobar is close, but while we were all obsessing about Byron Buxton, the Twins may have been hiding their eventual actual superstar in plain sight all along.
White Sox: Jose Abreu
Key stat: 26 doubles (2nd in MLB)
It is perhaps a motif that the losing teams we've talked about so far often will be shopping their most deserving All-Star come July.
Angels: Michael Trout
Key stat: 1.147 OPS (1st in MLB)
Yeah, Trout is only on pace for one of the 10 best seasons of all time.
Astros: Justin Verlander
Key stat: 1.61 ERA (1st in AL)
There are four, maybe five Astros who would be the most deserving pick on nearly every other team, but when in doubt, go with the guy making his Hall of Fame push with the most amazing work of his whole career.
Athletics: Matt Chapman
Key stat: 18 defensive runs saved (1st in MLB)
Chapman's hitting gets him close to All-Star consideration, but his otherworldly ability to play third base pushes him way over the top.
Mariners: Mitch Haniger
Key stat: 16 HR (tied for 10th in AL)
Haniger has essentially become a superhero since coming over from Arizona, and if the Mariners end their postseason drought this season, he'll be the primary reason why.
Rangers: Shin-Soo Choo
Key stat: .384 OBP (7th in AL)
I know, I'm supposed to pick Bartolo Colon here. But Choo, at last fully healthy, is almost just as good a story.
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
Braves: Freddie Freeman
Key stat: 1.012 OPS (1st in NL)
Freeman has navigated the past few seasons of Braves turmoil and now looks for all the world like your NL MVP Award favorite for one of the most exciting young teams in baseball.
Marlins: Brian Anderson
Key stat: .378 OBP (10th in NL)
The Marlins are a little bit better than you thought they were going to be, and Anderson is a happy surprise reason why.
Mets: Jacob deGrom
Key stat: 1.55 ERA (1st in MLB)
deGrom is pitching so well this season that he has a chance to win nine, maybe 10 games for the Mets this season!
Nationals: Max Scherzer
Key stat: 152 strikeouts (1st in MLB)
Scherzer is on pace to have the most strikeouts in more than 15 years. At some point he's going to strike out more batters than he faces. I don't know how. But Scherzer will find a way.
Phillies: Aaron Nola
Key stat: 2.55 ERA (6th in NL)
Nola has knocked a full run-and-a-quarter off his ERA since last season and would look mighty pretty starting an NL Wild Card Game, if it came to that.
Brewers: Lorenzo Cain
Key stat: .393 OBP (5th in NL)
Many analytically-minded folks argued that Cain was the free-agent steal of the offseason. Cain is making them look extremely smart.
Cardinals: Michael Wacha
Key stat: 3.24 ERA (10th in NL)
If you're feeling whimsical, you can go with Japan League import Miles Mikolas, but the resurgence of Wacha, who looks as good as he did when he exploded on the scene during the 2013 postseason, has helped keep the Cardinals afloat during an injury-plagued first half.
Cubs: Javier Baez
Key stat: 46 RBIs (tied for 5th in NL)
The on-base percentage is still a problem, but Baez remains as purely enjoyable a baseball player -- both at bat and (especially) in the field -- to watch as there is in the game. (There is also never anything wrong with a Kristopher Bryant vote.)
Pirates: Francisco Cervelli
Key stat: .386 OBP (10th in NL)
Remember when Cervelli was a Yankees backup? He is currently the best hitting catcher in the NL, and possibly the Majors.
Reds: Joey Votto
Key stat: .425 OBP (2nd in NL)
The answer to all Reds-related All-Star questions is always Votto. But wow, Scooter Gennett is making it awfully close.
D-backs: Patrick Corbin
Key stat: 117 strikeouts (2nd in NL)
If A.J. Pollock weren't hurt again, it would clearly be him. Remember the Golden D-backs Rule: When Pollock is healthy, Arizona is excellent; and when he's not, look out below.
Dodgers: Matt Kemp
Key stat: .579 SLG percentage (2nd in NL)
There are few more wonderfully hilarious and enjoyable stories this season than Kemp not only being a leading vote-getter for the All-Star Game, but absolutely earning the honor.
Giants: Brandon Belt
Key stat: .548 SLG percentage (5th in NL)
Fittingly, Belt is finally becoming a superstar just in time for everyone else on his team to get old and fall off.
Padres: Eric Hosmer
Key stats: 20 doubles (tied for 2nd in NL)
While you were making fun of the Padres for spending so much on him in the offseason, Hosmer was busy getting off to the best start of his career.
Rockies: Nolan Arenado
Key stat: .952 OPS (4th in NL)
Eventually Arenado's going to try to make his Hall of Fame case, and every time he's named to the All-Star Game will help. He just turned 27, and this year would be his fourth.
Will Leitch is a columnist for MLB.com.