The Major League Baseball regular season is six months long, which allows us to break the season into six convenient chunks. Each of these chunks is equal to one another, even if it doesn’t seem that way at the time; it always feels, in the moment, that the first and last months count more.
But throughout the season, we will be putting together an All-Star team for each month. As we wrap up this thrilling month of baseball, here’s an All-Star pick from each league, at each position, for August. Just one more month to go! (All stats below are entering Monday's games.)
Perez takes as few days off as any catcher in baseball, but he sure isn’t tiring as the season has gone on: He was, in fact, the Major League leader in home runs for the month of August. Smith had seven of his own, but most impressive is that .425 OBP he put up for the month. The Dodgers, they’re just good everywhere.
You know, if these two guys -- both sleeper fantasy baseball picks who got off to difficult starts -- had hit like this in April, none of their original owners would have waived them from their teams. Cron probably should have been traded at the Deadline, but the Rockies have gotten all the spoils in August, with an MLB-best .814 slugging percentage for the month. Dalbec leads the AL with a .782 slugging, for what it’s worth.
Remember, heading into October last year, Lowe looked like the best hitter on the Rays and even a potential MVP candidate. He’s rounding back into that form late in the season: Who says this team doesn’t have stars?
There’s slim pickings from the National League at the second-base position this month, but Edman has helped keep the Cardinals in the Wild Card race despite a bullpen that has suddenly started letting just about every lead slip away.
Oh, yeah, Wander: It’s on. He went .319/.386/.505 for the month and actually led the Majors in runs scored. It sure looks like this guy is going to wreck this league for a long, long time. Swanson is one half of a Braves left-side-of-the-infield combo that might just get this team in the playoffs on its lonesome. Because look at the other guy ...
Riley has provided the pop for the Braves that they’ve desperately needed after the loss of Ronald Acuña Jr., but it’s not just power: His 36 hits led the National League for the month. Is it possible he gets some down-ballot MVP votes? Ramírez just keeps plugging along for a team that is virtually out of the race. He sometimes can feel like the last man standing in Cleveland.
If the Phillies had gained a bunch of ground on the Braves this month, Harper would be polishing up his MVP credentials. Alas, he might not be. Arozarena might be on his way to winning himself the AL Rookie of the Year Award -- the most “wait, he’s still a rookie?” season ever. For the first time, Judge and teammate Giancarlo Stanton were battling it out for All-Star honors. That’s how the whole thing was supposed to be drawn up for New York. Also: Naquin’s hot again! Soto had a .505 OBP in August, which is a good way to make this list.
Also, do you realize that Marte stole 19 bases in August?
AL: Yordan Alvarez, Astros
For the first time all season, the pick isn’t Shohei Ohtani. Here’s how his and Alvarez’s August lines compared:
It is sort of remarkable: Even in a “down” month, Ohtani’s still getting on base at a higher mark than a guy slugging almost twice what he is. It’s almost as if people have stopped pitching to him.
Apologies to Max Fried, who was also excellent in August, but I don’t know how you keep those four National League pitchers off of there. Wainwright turned 40 on Monday. Here are his numbers for August:
5-1, 44 IP (first in MLB), 1 HR allowed, 1.43 ERA.
Is that how the last month of your 30s went? I doubt it.
Basically, with relievers you go with guys on a hot streak -- the Cardinals’ Luis García threw 15 scoreless innings in August and doesn’t even make the cut -- but it’s still near impossible not to find a spot for Hader on this list every month.