Another week of games is in the books, and the MLB season is officially in full swing as we head into the summer months.
The question of which players are having legitimate seasons and which had mere hot starts is beginning to be answered.
Certainly, there’s a ton of baseball to be played, and anyone talented enough to make it to the can be great (or terrible) for 50 games.
Still, the patterns are beginning to emerge just in time for one of the most popular traditions in all of baseball: All-Star voting.
Perhaps the most revered All-Star exhibition in professional sports belongs to Major League Baseball, with its Midsummer Classic holding a special place in baseball lore.
Earlier this week, the first stage of voting opened to the public, allowing fans to vote for the most deserving players (or, perhaps more likely, their favorite players).
Voting format questions aside, the early rounds of All-Star voting are absolutely critical to a player’s chances of making the squad.
Players who lead their position in votes automatically get a starting nod, even if they’re injured (they’ll be replaced in the actual game, of course).
There’s a few storylines to follow here as we close in on the break.
The first of these storylines involves All-Star streaks: Mike Trout has been selected as a starter in nine consecutive seasons, Nolan Arenado has been selected for seven straight, and has gotten the call six times in a row.
Of these players, it seems like Trout and Betts are essentially locks; while Trout - +2500 to be named American League MVP - has seen his performance dip slightly this season, he’s still providing elite production and his name value will likely carry him. The same goes for Betts, who is +1800 to be named National League MVP.
However, the question surrounds Arenado, who is +2000 for Most Regular Season RBIs: he started the year off on a horrid stretch, receiving plenty of negative press before turning it around recently.
The cold start might be fresh in voters’ minds, potentially ending his streak at seven straight games.
There’s also some surprising names who deserve an All-Star nod, even if the fan vote doesn’t get them in. The first of these is Yandy Diaz of the .
Entering the season, Diaz was one of the great what-if stories in baseball; he hit the ball harder than anyone (as evidenced by his top-percentile exit velocity metrics), but he also hit the ball into the ground more than anyone.
However, this season, that story has changed.
He’s increased his launch angle significantly over the past few seasons, culminating in this year’s breakout performance, and he is now +2500 for Most Regular Seaon Runs Scored.
Through 47 games, Diaz has posted superb .310/.410/.580/.990 slash rates with 12 HR (already just two shy of his single-season high), 37 R, 30 RBI, and a 179 wRC+.
While it’s unlikely Diaz will get the votes he needs to be named a starter, he absolutely deserves a nod.
Diaz is just an example of lesser-known players who both deserve a place on the All-Star team but will likely struggle to get the votes they need.
This has been a consistent issue with All-Star voting, as a fan vote opens the selection process up to bias.
This was evidenced by a nearly all- starting lineup several years ago during the peak of their popularity.
The problem of fan voting is a difficult one to solve.
While providing the fans an opportunity to vote increases awareness of the event and enthusiasm, it also hurts players – there’s an endless list of guys who “deserved” to make the team over the eventual starter, only to get snubbed for one reason or another.
This may seem like it’s not a big deal: after all, it’s the All-Star game, and fans want to see stars play.
However, consider the repercussions of this when there’s million-dollar contract conditions for All-Star appearances baked into many contracts.
Similarly, enshrinement into the Hall of Fame – perhaps the biggest individual accomplishment one could attain in baseball – is often dependent upon things like All-Star appearances as a proxy for the player’s dominance during their career.
There’s not a great answer to the dilemma, and it’s unlikely that MLB tampers further with the All-Star voting and selection process for some time.
Until then, we’ll just have to do our best to be unbiased, rational voters (however unlikely that is).
With this in mind, here is a look at the entering-June under-the-radar All-Star team of 2023.
Each player on this team is representative of the overarching point – players who, in any fair world, would be among the leading vote-getters for the All-Star game, but whose lower profile may lead to a snub.
Remember, these aren’t necessarily the best players at each position, but those who are likely to receive fewer votes than they deserve.
As a result, this is an encouragement All-Star voters to vote for (or at least consider) these players, who have had standout seasons to this point and deserve to at least be in the running to appear in this season’s Midsummer Classic.
C: Elias Diaz, COL: .321, 21 R, 6 HR, 27 RBI, 0 SB
1B: Luis Arraez, MIA: .381, 19 R, 1 HR, 20 RBI, 1 SB
2B: Nolan Gorman, STL: .272, 22 R, 13 HR, 41 RBI, 4 SB
3B: Spencer Steer, CIN: .289, 30 R, 8 HR, 28 RBI, 1 SB
SS: Nico Hoerner, CHC: .285, 30 R, 4 HR, 26 RBI, 14 SB
OF: Corbin Carroll, ARI: .290, 35 R, 9 HR, 22 RBI, 16 SB
OF: Jorge Soler, MIA: .248, 31 R, 17 HR, 38 RBI, 0 SB
OF: Lourdes Gurriel Jr., ARI: .311, 30 R, 9 HR, 31 RBI, 1 SB
C: Jonah Heim, TEX: .282, 28 R, 6 HR, 39 RBI, 2 SB
1B: Yandy Diaz, TB: .310, 37 R, 12 HR, 30 RBI, 0 SB
2B: Zach McKinstry, DET: .288, 24 R, 4 HR, 10 RBI, 10 SB
3B: Josh Jung, TEX: .295, 40 R, 12 HR, 37 RBI, 1 SB
SS: Taylor Walls, TB: .244, 29 R, 7 HR, 19 RBI, 15 SB
OF: Adolis Garcia, TEX: .257, 45 R, 14 HR, 49 RBI, 4 SB
OF: Josh Lowe, TB: .304, 28 R, 11 HR, 37 RBI, 13 SB
OF: Jarred Kelenic, SEA: .277, 27 R, 10 HR, 26 RBI, 7 SB