Who shines brightest? Ranking every All-Star

July 9th, 2021

The best thing about the All-Star Game is right there in the name: Everybody’s a star. There isn’t a player you’ll watch on Tuesday night who isn’t one of the best players in baseball right now. That’s why they’re there.

But, as "Animal Farm" taught us, all All-Stars are equal -- but some are more equal than others. It is impossible to compare all these All-Stars … which is exactly why we should try to do it! So let’s rank some All-Stars. Let’s rank all the All-Stars!

Now, every person has his or her own criteria. Mine is an amalgam of several factors: How each player is playing in the first half of this year, how he's played in his career, and how much I want to watch him play right now … which, after all, is why we have an All-Star Game in the first place. Every single one of these players belongs here. But for fun: Let’s rank them based on these highly subjective measures. Players unlikely to be healthy enough to play, or who say they aren’t playing, aren’t included here, including Mike Trout, Jacob deGrom, Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Kyle Schwarber.

1) Shohei Ohtani, RHP/DH, Angels
There has to be some way -- and this may require tilting the space-time continuum -- to have him pitch against himself.

2) Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, Padres
It may be impossible to rank these top 5, actually. Your rankings are as good as mine.

3) Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., 1B, Blue Jays
He’s already as exciting as his father was, and he is still, somehow, only 22.

4) Ronald Acuña Jr., OF, Braves
The team has been a downer so far, but Acuña is never not a mesmerizing watch.

5) Aaron Judge, OF, Yankees
The Yankees have been a huge bummer this year, but Judge hasn’t been, and he’s a player you never look away from when he’s at the plate.

6) Mookie Betts, OF, Dodgers
Yes, I know he’s not having the best season. He’s still Mookie Betts, as joyous a player to watch in baseball. I don’t know what an All-Star is if it isn’t Mookie Betts.

7) José Ramírez, 3B, Cleveland
He might have had my MVP vote last year, and he’s almost single-handedly keeping this offense afloat.

8) Buster Posey, C, Giants
Posey’s return to his previous All-Star level -- his exceeding of it, actually -- is one of the best stories in baseball this year.

9) Nick Castellanos, OF, Reds
He’s brash, loud, entertaining and having the season of his life.

10) Juan Soto, OF, Nationals
Another superstar who isn’t having his peak season, but any guy who spent the offseason being called "the next Ted Williams" should probably be rather high on this list.

11) Max Muncy, 1B, Dodgers
He’s always been able to hit, but it turns out he can field, too.

12) Carlos Rodón, LHP, White Sox
You get extra points for reaching an All-Star Game the same year you’ve thrown a (particularly dominant) no-hitter.

13) Zack Wheeler, Phillies
Say what you will about the Phillies, but Wheeler, along with Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto, has been one of their incredibly smart free-agent acquisitions.

14) Craig Kimbrel, RHP, Cubs
Turns out, he’s not only far from done, he’s the best reliever in baseball again. And about to become quite the trade chip, perhaps?

15) Brandon Woodruff, RHP, Brewers
The most unheralded pitcher in baseball. You really gotta see this guy.

16) Josh Hader, LHP, Brewers
He’s electric, still. The Brewers are, presumably, glad they ignored all those trade inquiries over the years.

17) Freddie Freeman, 1B, Braves
He’s not having the same season he had last year, but he’s methodically putting up a potential Hall of Fame case, year by year.

18) Matt Olson, 1B, A’s
Perhaps his Home Run Derby appearance will finally make people appreciate who is the best of the Oakland Matts.

19) Trea Turner, SS, Nationals
The Nationals have long been a top-heavy team of superstars. Turner is now one of them.

20) Yu Darvish, RHP, Padres
Turns out, Blake Snell wasn’t the ace the Padres brought in this offseason after all. That title belongs to Darvish.

21) Gerrit Cole, RHP, Yankees
He remains this high on the list because of his career body of work, as well as his excellence this season. But the last month or so hasn’t been great.

22) Salvador Perez, C, Royals
The longtime catcher is younger (31) than you think he is, and he's probably better than he has ever been.

23) Michael Brantley, OF, Astros
No one is hitting .400 anymore, and probably won't for a long time. But if anyone did, wouldn’t it be great if it were Brantley?

24) Kevin Gausman, RHP, Giants
He has been the unquestioned ace for one of the best teams in baseball.

25) Xander Bogaerts, SS, Red Sox
This guy has been through every up and down in Boston for nearly a decade now. And he’s back on top again.

26) Jesse Winker, OF, Reds
The Reds have bashed their way into having two-thirds of the National League's starting outfield in the All-Star Game, and deservedly so.

27) Nolan Arenado, 3B, Cardinals
He’s having another excellent year … though he’s doing it, once again, for a losing team.

28) Marcus Semien, 2B, Blue Jays
He was a surprise AL MVP finalist a couple of years ago, and after a down 2020, he’s back to his elite level.

29) Rafael Devers, 3B, Red Sox
It feels like he has been around forever, but he’s still only 24. Is he the most low-key fantastic Red Sox player in recent memory?

30) J.D. Martinez, DH, Red Sox
The nightmare 2020 is long behind him: He’s a terror at the plate again.

31) Jared Walsh, 1B, Angels
Releasing Albert Pujols gave Walsh free reign to mash the way he’s clearly been pining to. Now, can he pitch?

32) Cedric Mullins, OF, Orioles
He’s having a terrific year for a team that needs something to feel good about right now, at least on the Major League roster.

33) Trevor Rogers, LHP, Marlins
He wasn’t the young Marlins pitcher everyone thought would break out, but break out he has.

34) Brandon Crawford, Giants
As indicative of the Giants’ success with older players as anyone, Crawford will make it clear it isn’t a comeback: He’s been here for years.

35) Lance Lynn, RHP, White Sox
Forever underappreciated, he continues to thrive, now with the manager who had a high-profile mix-up with him a full decade ago.

36) Nelson Cruz, DH, Twins
Is he having the best year of his career? No. But he’s still amazing, and I’m fairly certain he’ll hit well enough to be playing into his 50s. Why not?

37) Mike Zunino, C, Rays
There is something wonderful about Zunino’s first All-Star appearance being as the lone representative of a team that just reached the World Series.

38) Corbin Burnes, RHP, Brewers
Burnes has slowed a little after his jaw-dropping start. He deserves to be here, though, and he may actually be the third-best starter on this NL staff, even if you were to include deGrom.

39) Jake Cronenworth, 2B, Padres
Quietly right at the center of just about every success the Padres have.

40) Kris Bryant, Cubs
Another player having a terrific year at the right time, Bryant could potentially be heading out of Chicago (whenever that is) reminding everyone exactly how terrific he is, and has been.

41) Adolis García, OF, Rangers
His breakthrough, after years of struggle, might just win him the AL Rookie of the Year Award.

42) Liam Hendriks, RHP, White Sox
He has been exactly what Tony La Russa wants him to be: The shutdown closer.

43) Ryan Pressly, RHP, Astros
He has given up just three homers in the last two seasons.

44) Bryan Reynolds, OF, Pirates
Another Pirate having a solid year to, alas, very little effect.

45) Aroldis Chapman, LHP, Yankees
It’s always fun to see this sort of velocity at the ASG, but he hasn’t looked right for a few weeks now.

46) Bo Bichette, SS, Blue Jays
In honor of his father, he should grow his hair out to look like his dad did when he played in Colorado.

47) Joey Gallo, OF, Rangers
His light-tower power is finally culminating into Gallo becoming a more complete hitter, and it might just get him … well, traded.

48) Nathan Eovaldi, RHP, Red Sox
It turns out the 2018 World Series was just the start.

49) Chris Taylor, INF/OF, Dodgers
Another of those Dodgers players who comes out of nowhere and is a deserving All-Star. Though it has been a while since he came out of nowhere.

50) Ozzie Albies, 2B, Braves
Albies isn't having a year that’s quite up to his standards, but he has warmed up lately.

51) J.T. Realmuto, C, Phillies
The Phillies were wise to bring him back, but, as we suspected, it still might not be enough for them.

52) Mark Melancon, RHP, Padres
Now throwing harder than ever, but with the same pinpoint control.

53) Adam Frazier, 2B, Pirates
He may be benefitting from a weak field at second base, but he deserves this spot.

The Rest

We’ll stop there, because it does not feel right to rank anyone last here. After all, these are All-Stars and this is wildly subjective anyway! If you’re wondering, here are the rest of the All-Stars, listed alphabetically by last name: Matt Barnes, RHP (BOS); Eduardo Escobar, 3B (ARI); Kyle Gibson, RHP (TEX); Teoscar Hernández, OF (TOR); Yusei Kikuchi, LHP (SEA); Germán Márquez, RHP (COL); Alex Reyes, RHP (STL); Gregory Soto, LHP (DET).