8 big All-Star voting storylines to follow

May 31st, 2023

Read our story on the balloting format, which includes two phases of fan voting to determine the All-Star starters.

Less than two months remain until the first MLB All-Star Game to be played in Seattle in 22 years, and Phase 1 of balloting began on Wednesday, allowing fans to vote for the starting position players in both leagues. Here are some storylines to look out for as both the AL and NL rosters begin to take form.

1. Will 's streak survive?

Not only has Trout been an All-Star selection in each of the past 10 seasons in which the game was played, from 2012-22 (there was no game in 2020), but he has also been voted in as a starting AL outfielder in each of the past nine. Trout’s conventional statistics have taken a dip this year, as his batting average, OBP and slugging percentage are all his career lows among seasons in which he’s played 50-plus games. But if Trout manages to win the fan balloting despite that, he’ll be the first player to do so 10 consecutive times since from 1989-2001 (at shortstop and third base combined).

Other notable All-Star streaks include being selected to the game seven straight times and with six straight, but both have been picked as reserves at some point in the past two seasons.

2. Will either or become his franchise’s first All-Star starter at shortstop?

There’s a lot that Franco and Bichette have in common. Both are 25 years old or younger. Both are starting at shortstop for AL East teams with winning records. And via Baseball Reference, they are comfortably the top two shortstops in MLB in WAR this season, with first-place Franco and second-place Bichette each well ahead of third-place Dansby Swanson.

So what’s the difference between them? Only one of them can win the AL shortstop ballot in the upcoming fan voting -- and if either one does so, he will be the first player to win the ballot at shortstop in his franchise’s history.

3. How many starters for Rays' dominant offense?

If Franco does earn the nod at shortstop, that might just be the tip of the iceberg for a Rays offense that has been dominant all season.

In addition to Franco, first baseman and outfielders and are among the Rays with the most realistic chances of a starting nod. But there’s seemingly no end to the number of Tampa Bay offensive players with strong starts to the season. The Rays had 11 players with at least seven home runs through 50 games, three more such players than any other AL/NL team through 50 games since at least 1906.

If the Rays manage to have four ballot winners, they would be the first team to do so since both the Red Sox and Cubs in 2016 (with the Cubs, of course, winning that year’s World Series). That would also be only two shy of Tampa Bay’s entire number of ballot winners combined in team history entering 2023.

4. Will snap Dodgers' drought at first base?

Though Freeman had a stellar debut season in Los Angeles in 2022, finishing as the NL’s leader in runs, hits and OBP, he was not able to beat out eventual NL MVP for the All-Star starting spot at first base.

If Freeman can do so this year, however, he would be the first Dodgers player to win the vote at either of the corner-infield spots since 10-time All-Star and franchise legend  did so at first base 43 years ago. Freeman currently leads the NL in hits and total bases.

5. Will any rookies win a starting spot?

There hasn’t been a rookie to win a starting role via the All-Star ballot since earned one of the three AL outfield spots in 2017. And if anyone is slated to do it this year, it’s most likely to be outfielder , who has played a huge role in Arizona’s surprising 30-23 start. If Carroll wins the vote, he would be the D-backs’ first rookie offensive All-Star selection (whether as a starter or reserve), and he would be the team’s first outfielder to be voted in as a starter since in Arizona’s 2001 World Series-winning season.

Other rookies to keep an eye on include Rangers third baseman , Dodgers outfielder and Red Sox outfielder .

6. Will earn his first career All-Star start?

While many veterans with strong cases to start the All-Star Game have done so before, Chapman has not, despite putting together a very solid career that includes three Gold Glove Awards at third base and two top-10 MVP finishes. While he made the All-Star Game in 2019 with the Athletics, he came off the bench behind AL starter .

But Chapman, who ranks among the MLB leaders with 31 barrels this season, per Statcast, is having a career year in his second season with Toronto. Can the 30-year-old parlay that into his first All-Star ballot win?

7. Will return to All-Star glory?

After a dominant first stint with the Pirates that included five straight All-Star selections (2011-15), including being voted in as a starting outfielder in 2014, McCutchen has not been back to the Midsummer Classic since. But the 2013 NL MVP is back in Pittsburgh this year, for the first time since '17, and perhaps he can recapture some All-Star magic.

Much like it was a delight to see Albert Pujols return to the 2022 All-Star Game as a Cardinal, there could be some sentimental reasons to push for McCutchen to represent the Bucs in '23. Plus, the 36-year-old is having a legitimately productive season at DH. Pittsburgh's only All-Star voting winner since McCutchen was second baseman Adam Frazier in 2021.

8. Can stop White Sox outfield streak?

The White Sox have struggled out of the gate in 2023, but a silver lining for Chicago is the play of the 25-year-old Robert. Not only has he slugged 13 home runs, but defensively he leads all outfielders in Outs Above Average, according to Statcast.

With the likes of Trout, Arozarena, Lowe, , , Judge and more, the AL outfield voting race should be very competitive. But if Robert earns one of the three spots, he’ll be the first White Sox outfielder to do so in nearly half a century -- since Richie Zisk in 1977.