Predicting the AL All-Star reserves
So after all that ballot banter, the Royals will not be making up eight-ninths of the American League starting lineup at the All-Star Game after all.
But Royals manager Ned Yost, with the help of the Player Ballot, has plenty of spots to fill before the announcement of the All-Star reserves on the Esurance All-Star Selection Show tonight at 7 ET on ESPN. Here's one man's guess at how the rest of the AL roster will look.
For a frame of reference, last year's AL squad featured eight starters and five relievers. So we'll plan on that, while at the same time acknowledging that Yost does love his beefed-up bullpens.
From the starting group, Dallas Keuchel (2.03 ERA), Sonny Gray (2.09), Chris Archer (2.18), David Price (2.54) and Chris Sale (2.87 and 115 strikeouts in his last 76 innings) all feel like locks and are all worthy of the starting nod. Felix Hernandez hasn't been quite as dominant as usual, but his reputation will likely precede him, and the best guess is that Scott Kazmir (2.56) and Yovani Gallardo (2.56) will round out the "rotation," as it were. Of course, Corey Kluber was a legit All-Star snub in what turned out to be his Cy Young season in '14, and it wouldn't be a shock to see him get a "mea culpa" call.
As for the bullpen, look out. We've got another Royal coming. Wade Davis is a no-brainer, and he's likely to be flanked by Zach Britton, Glen Perkins, Huston Street and Dellin Betances. That said, Darren O'Day is probably equally as deserving as his Baltimore teammate Britton, Ryan Madson's incredible comeback season would be worthy if there weren't so many darn Royals already and the Astros' Will Harris has also been terrific.
With Miguel Cabrera voted into the starting lineup but unavailable with a calf injury, Yost has a roster spot to fill at first base. (The new starter will be the first baseman on the Players' Ballot who gets the most votes.) It could be hard for Yost to pick his own guy (Eric Hosmer), as there is certainly no shortage of Royals on the roster, and Prince Fielder -- listed as a first baseman on the ballot despite extensive time at DH -- could end up being the Rangers' rep. And with Albert Pujols and Mark Teixeira both more statistically deserving, it's hard to see Hoz cracking this roster, even with the extra spot created by Miggy's injury.
In the middle of the diamond, one would assume the players' vote gave more love to Jason Kipnis and Jose Iglesias than the fan vote did. They're my guesses to back up Jose Altuve and Alcides Escobar, respectively. We also need a Red Sox representative, and the improving Xander Bogaerts is a particularly good bet, especially with Dustin Pedroia on the DL. Manny Machado ought to get the edge over Mike Moustakas to back up Josh Donaldson at third.
Jose Bautista has appeared on five straight AL All-Star rosters, and Adam Jones has been on the last three. Though Bautista had a slow April and Jones had a brutal May, it's hard to imagine either streak ending, because both are ultimately worthy.
And although I know a Tiger will fill a reserve outfield spot, I'm not sure if it'll be Yoenis Cespedes or J.D. Martinez, as the latter's recent surge could be enough to overtake the former in the player vote. I'll guess Cespedes gets a spot, with the Yankees' Brett Gardner getting another.
Odds are, Yost -- a former catcher -- will carry three catchers, as opposed to, say, two and a backup DH. Russell Martin (.821 OPS), Stephen Vogt (.882) and Brian McCann (.803) all have the strongest cases. My guess is that McCann is the one on the outside looking in. Vogt's one of the great stories of 2015, and Martin's power surge is a big reason the Blue Jays have had the best offense in the game.
With eight starters (again, eliminating Miggy from the mix), 12 pitchers, seven reserve infielders, four reserve outfielders and two reserve catchers, we have one more spot to fill for the Final Vote. The next five deserving guys (in my opinion): Alex Rodriguez, Martinez, Brian Dozier, Jose Abreu and Mookie Betts. That would be a particularly fun Final Vote cast, if for no other reason to see how A-Rod fares with the fans.
Tonight at 7 ET, the All-Star reserves, pitchers and Final Vote candidates will be announced on the Esurance All-Star Selection Show on ESPN. Immediately following the show, fans can return to MLB.com to begin voting to select the final player for each League's 34-man roster via the 2015 Esurance All-Star Game Final Vote. Fans can cast their votes from a list of five players from each league until 4 p.m. ET on Friday, July 10.
And the voting doesn't end there. During the Midsummer Classic in Cincinnati on Tuesday, July 14, fans can once again visit MLB.com to submit their choice for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award. Voting exclusively at MLB.com, online and via their mobile devices in the 2015 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote, the fans' collective voice will represent 20 percent of the overall vote that determines the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
MLB.TV Premium subscribers will be able to live stream the All-Star Game via MLB.TV through FOX's participating video providers. Access will be available across more than 400 supported MLB.TV platforms, including the award-winning MLB.com At Bat app. MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities, including the 2015 Gillette Home Run Derby presented by Head & Shoulders, part of Gatorade All-Star Workout Day on Monday, July 13. The Derby will feature a new format with brackets and timed rounds and will be broadcast live by ESPN and MLB.com beginning at 8 p.m. ET.
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