In recent seasons, an exciting collection of young talent has surged into the Major Leagues, giving baseball early-20s stars such as Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Mike Trout and many others.But that doesn't mean there aren't still some older guys who are worthy of selection for the 2016 All-Star Game presented
In recent seasons, an exciting collection of young talent has surged into the Major Leagues, giving baseball early-20s stars such as Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Mike Trout and many others.
But that doesn't mean there aren't still some older guys who are worthy of selection for the 2016 All-Star Game presented by MasterCard on July 12 in San Diego.
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Though it's still early, here is a look at the top players on the 2016 Esurance All-Star Game ballot who are in their age-35 season or older:
David Ortiz, Red Sox DH
Big Papi could be on his way to both one of baseball's greatest age-40 seasons and one of its greatest farewell seasons. The nine-time All-Star leads the Majors in slugging percentage (.695) and OPS (1.101) while mashing 16 doubles and 10 homers and driving in 33 runs. That makes it hard to believe Ortiz really could walk away at the end of 2016, but if he does, he could be in elite company. Ortiz already has 1.7 wins above replacement (WAR), according to baseball-reference.com; only Barry Bonds ('07) and Ted Williams (1960) have compiled 3.0 WAR or more in a final season as a position player in his 40s.
Victor Martinez, Tigers DH
It's been quite a rebound season for V-Mart, who managed only a .667 OPS over 120 games during an injury-marred 2015. This year, the 37-year-old has returned to his All-Star form from '14, leading the American League with a .352 average and sitting in the top five with a .966 OPS. Martinez has walked (11) almost as many times as he has struck out (13), and he has notched 16 extra-base hits.
Ben Zobrist, Cubs 2B
Zobrist, who turns 35 on May 26, is off to a hot start with Chicago after signing a four-year, $56 million contract in the offseason. Since a short slump in mid-April, the switch-hitter has batted .397 with three doubles, five homers, 24 RBIs and an 18-to-7 walk-to-strikeout ratio over his past 20 games. He now sports a .932 OPS for the season and ranks in the top five in the National League in on-base percentage.
Nelson Cruz, Mariners DH
Coming off back-to-back seasons with 40 or more home runs, Cruz has hit seven so far in 2016, including three in his past 10 games. The 35-year-old owns a .363 OBP and .477 slugging percentage, while driving in 21 runs. He's going for his fifth career All-Star appearance and fourth in a row.
Chase Utley, Dodgers 2B
The six-time All-Star is experiencing a revival at age 37, in his first full season with the Dodgers. Utley, who re-signed with Los Angeles on a one-year deal for $7 million, has been a steady leadoff man for the club. He owns a .281 average, an .813 OPS, 11 extra-base hits and 15 walks.
Adrian Beltre, Rangers 3B
Getting old is no big deal for the 37-year-old, who leads active position players in age-30-plus WAR and has made all four of his All-Star teams in that span. Beltre whacked his sixth home run on Sunday, giving him 26 RBIs and a .465 slugging percentage this season. He now sits only seven RBIs away from 1,500 for his career.
Jose Bautista, Blue Jays OF
A late bloomer, Bautista has made his first six All-Star teams over the past six seasons, at ages 29-34. Bautista's batting average (.217) certainly won't impress anyone, but it also masks his effectiveness at the plate. He leads the AL with 31 walks while smacking 18 extra-base hits, giving him an .802 OPS, and he also has 25 RBIs.
Matt Holliday, Cardinals OF
At age 36, the seven-time All-Star sports an .825 OPS, six homers and 19 RBIs as he continues to be a force in the middle of the St. Louis lineup. Within the past week, Holliday posted a 3-for-5 game with a homer against the Angels, as well as a 4-for-5 game with two blasts against the Dodgers, showing he is still plenty dangerous.
Brandon Phillips, Reds 2B
From May 4-7, Phillips slammed five homers and drove in nine runs over a four-game span. Thanks in large part to that outburst, the three-time All-Star has a .484 slugging percentage in his age-35 season after posting a sub-.400 mark last year.
Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB.