If Player Page for Max Muncy of the Dodgers isn't the happiest and most surprising story of this baseball season, then it has to be Juan Soto, the 19-year-old Nationals outfielder.
Who knew? Isn't that the best part? There are all sorts of lessons about trusting talent or maybe not giving up on someone with the smarts and resilience not to remain totally committed to his craft.
Baseball seasons constantly deliver these kinds of stories that we do not see coming, and they're the inspiration for an 'all-write-in' All-Star Team. In other words, these are players who didn't make the ballot for the All-Star Game presented by Mastercard, but deserve serious consideration anyway.
That's why the ballot includes a write-in section at each position. Here's what one ballot might look like (stats through Monday):
C -- Max Stassi, Astros (27)
.818 OPS, 1.2 WAR, 11 2B, 7 HR
Stassi's emergence has given the Astros an impact weapon against left-handed pitching (.923 OPS) while also allowing manager A.J. Hinch not to overwork his No. 1 catcher, Brian McCann.
1B -- Jesus Aguilar, Brewers (28)
.998 OPS, 2.2 WAR, 13 2B, 19 HR
He was unable to crack the starting lineup during three seasons with the Indians and found himself behind Eric Thames on the Brewers depth chart the last two seasons. But injuries have given him an opportunity, and he has flourished. With Thames healthy, manager Craig Counsell's challenge will be to find playing time for both.
2B -- Daniel Robertson, Rays (24)
.791 OPS, 2.3 WAR, 10 2B, 7 HR
It's complicated. The Rays are working so many young players into the mix that versatility is critical for playing time. Robertson primarily played the left side of the infield in the Minor Leagues, but he has started at five different spots this season. His production at the plate guarantees that manager Kevin Cash will keep finding ways to get him onto his lineup card.
3B -- Player Page for Max Muncy, Dodgers (27)
1.027 OPS, 2.6 WAR, 8 2B, 18 HR
He's going to be one of the hot stories at the All-Star Game even through it'll take a Herculean write-in effort to get him in the starting lineup. During a 2017 season spent in the Minors, he remade his swing and his approach, and made like Chris Taylor in '17, has been one of the biggest surprises of the season. His versatility -- playing first, second, third and the outfield -- has helped keep the Dodgers afloat despite a boatload of injuries.
SS -- Jurickson Profar, Rangers (25)
.756 OPS, 1.3 WAR, 22 2B, 8 HR
He was once one of the game's top prospects and made his Major League debut six years ago at 19. Injuries cost him playing time since then. So did a lack of production. This season, at the ripe old age of 25, he has taken a huge step forward.
OF -- Ronald Acuna Jr., Braves (20)
.827 OPS, 0.9 WAR, 9 2B, 7 HR
He made his Major League debut on April 25th, then spent most of June on the disabled list with a knee injury. However, when he has played, he has looked like the guy MLB Pipeline pegged as MLB's No. 1 prospect. His game is speed and power, and he's part of what has made the Braves so good and so interesting this season.
OF -- Juan Soto, Nationals (19)
.999 OPS, 0.7 WAR, 9 2B, 8 HR
He's easily the biggest surprise of this season because the Nationals had him ticketed for another season in the Minors. Injuries changed that timetable, and the 19-year-old won't be going back. He has hit with power, been disciplined at the plate and looks like he's going to be one of the game's next great stars.
OF -- Brandon Nimmo, Mets (25)
.909 OPS, 2.0 WAR, 9 2B, 12 HR
He made the Mets, barely, out of Spring Training in a continuation of a career in which the club's evaluators weren't sure what they had in him. Despite a recent slump, his numbers across the board hold up against virtually all the National League's best outfielders.
DH -- Gorkys Hernandez, Giants (30)
.810 OPS, 0.8 WAR, 7 2B, 11 HR
His offseason was devoted to more weight training, and he has produced so consistently that manager Bruce Bochy has made him his everyday center fielder.