Fan voting for the All-Star Game presented by Mastercard is ongoing. Earlier this week, we received the first standings update since Phase 1 of the voting launched on June 3, revealing the top 10 vote-getters at every position, plus the top 20 in the outfield, in both the American League and National League.
Remember: All votes are wiped away after Phase 1. So advancing to Phase 2 is a big deal. It’s a fresh start for those players. That’s why it’s important that we, the people, get Phase 1 right! And that’s what this column is all about.
The final Phase 1 results will be announced on Sunday, June 27, at noon ET on the 2021 Google MLB All-Star Ballot Finalists Show on MLB Network. Phase 2 will last for four days, concluding on Thursday, July 1, at 2 p.m. Later that night, the starting teams will be announced at 9 p.m. on the 2021 Google MLB All-Star Starters Reveal on ESPN.
Fans can cast their votes exclusively online and via mobile devices at MLB.com, all 30 club websites, the MLB At Bat and MLB Ballpark mobile apps and on Google Search in the U.S. and Canada until the voting period for Phase 1 concludes at 4 p.m. on Thursday.
These are seven guys who deserve a little (or in some cases a lot) more ballot support than they’ve received, to date. Not all of them should start, but, as described, they all are worthy of advancing to Phase 2, at the least.
Let’s take a look.
Cedric Mullins, BAL, AL OF
Current rank: 10th, 3% of the vote
There are other AL outfielders who should rank higher in the voting than they do (it is a crime, for instance, that the A’s Mark Canha is unranked). But Mullins’ current absence from a finalist spot (the top 9 outfielders advance to Phase 2 of the voting) is especially eye-catching.
At last count, Mullins was within 21,000 votes of the No. 9 spot, but he should be in line to start this game. While the injury that has Mike Trout’s All-Star status in question could give him that opportunity, he’s also made a good case, to date, to earn it outright.
Trout is leading the AL outfielders in the voting, which, injury or no injury, is no surprise at all. Aaron Judge is second, and that’s not particularly surprising, either. What is a bit surprising is that Byron Buxton ranks third despite being limited to 25 games played this season. Buxton’s brilliance (1.152 OPS) has been offset by his continued difficulty to stay on the field, though he returned to play on Saturday. Meanwhile, Mullins’ breakout has been a true highlight of 2021, as the former switch-hitter has ditched his right-handed swing and posted the best FanGraphs WAR (3.3) of any qualified AL outfielder, as well as the best wRC+ (157). His WAR is third among all AL position players.
Adam Frazier, PIT, NL 2B
Current rank: 2nd, 12% of the vote
This is an especially close race, with Frazier trailing the Braves’ Ozzie Albies by just 5 percentage points and ahead of the Dodgers’ Gavin Lux by just 2 percentage points (and Lux himself is very closely trailed by the Cubs’ Nico Hoerner and the Padres’ Jake Cronenworth). All of which is to say this could come down to the wire.
Frazier should be leading this vote. His showing is likely hurt by the standing of the Pirates, but his .848 OPS, 137 wRC+ and 1.9 fWAR were among the best in this spot at the time of this writing. The 5-foot-10, 185-pound Frazier’s been one of the best stories of the 2021 season. He’s a throwback who gets the bat to the ball and puts it in play (his strikeout and whiff rates are both in the 98th percentile). We’re going to need some of that in the All-Star Game.
Jesús Aguilar, MIA, NL 1B
Current rank: 5th, 7% of the vote
The Dodgers’ Max Muncy is very deservedly leading the vote at this position, which, quite frankly, has not exactly been a strong spot in the NL this year. But with Muncy now on the shelf for at least a couple weeks with a right oblique issue, it’s possible that his status for the All-Star Game could come into question.
If you’re looking for a potential replacement, Aguilar could be a good option. As of this writing, he has a .268/.331/.476 slash, 12 homers and 49 RBIs. His 121 wRC+ was second among NL first basemen with at least 250 plate appearances, and his 1.0 fWAR was third among NL first basemen. If nothing else, Aguilar deserves to be much higher than fifth in the vote, which is where he ranked at last count.
Matt Olson, OAK, AL 1B
Current rank: N/A
Let’s be very clear: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is crushing the ballot as much as he is crushing baseballs. He is way out in front at first base, as he should be. Guerrero is having such a good season that he really ought to be starting at every position, were that physically possible.
That said, it’s nuts that Olson isn’t even in the top five. As of this writing, he has a .295/.375/.607 slash. His .982 OPS and 167 wRC+ marks are second only to Guerrero at this spot. His 19 homers and 50 RBIs are both in the top 10 among all players in MLB. It ultimately won’t mean anything with regard to the All-Star starting lineup, but if you could take a moment to give Olson a vote, you would be earning some karma points. Because this just isn’t right!
José Ramírez, CLE, AL 3B
Current rank: 4th, 9% of the vote
This is another one where nuance matters, because Boston’s Rafael Devers, who has garnered 28% of the vote, is perfectly worthy of his lead here. Yoán Moncada of the White Sox is in second at 13%, and Alex Bregman is third at 12%. All are having terrific seasons.
But as of this writing, Ramírez is second only to Devers among AL third basemen in homers (16), OPS (.893) and wRC+ (137) and is first in fWAR (2.6). The point here is that, as of now, Ramírez deserves to be ahead of Bregman in the top three and advance to Phase 2 of the voting, because it’s very possible that he’s the AL pace-setter in several key metrics by the time the final votes are cast.
Brandon Crawford, SFG, NL SS
Current rank: 4th, 7% of the vote
Short of injury, which is now in play after Fernando Tatis Jr. was forced to exit Saturday's game early, nothing that happens between now and the game will change the fact that Tatis, the leading vote-getter, should be starting for the NL.
But Crawford is second behind Tatis among NL shortstops in wRC+ (135). For now, the Cubs’ Javier Báez (second) and the Dodgers’ Corey Seager (third) are ahead of him in the voting. The Nationals’ Trea Turner, who is fifth in the voting, also has a strong case to be in that final three.
Will Smith, LAD, NL C
Current rank: 4th, 11% of the vote
Can’t find any fault with Buster Posey as the projected starter at this point. Again, though, the way the voting is shaped means we have to think about Phase 2, because it’s not out of the realm of possibility that somebody could have a better case than Posey when all is said and done. Right now, Smith is neck and neck with the Cubs’ Willson Contreras for the third finalist spot. Smith, with a 130 wRC+ and a 2.2 fWAR (to Posey’s position-leading 2.8 mark) is the more deserving of the two.
There are other NL catchers also worthy of advancing, including the Brewers’ Omar Narváez, the Phillies’ J.T. Realmuto and the D-backs’ Carson Kelly. But Smith was just 14,000 votes behind Contreras at last count, so his case sticks out.