First base – Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles
At first base, I am primarily looking for power, even if it sacrifices from batting average. Therefore, I am choosing Davis due to his .271 ISO and .506 SLG. The choice is over Joe Mauer despite Mauer having a much higher OBP (.453 vs .356) and also over Eric Hosmer despite him having a much higher average (.326 vs .235). Defense is something that can be sacrificed when choosing a first baseman, but Davis has been league average (0 DRS) and he’s helped because Hosmer had a down month defensively (-2 DRS). If the standard statistics still make you comfortable, Davis leads all AL first baseman in home runs and RBIs.
Second base – Logan Forsythe, Tampa Bay Rays
Here we are already with a surprising choice – there is a small chance of Forsythe making the actual All-Star game this year even if he keeps up his ridiculous numbers. At second base, defense is important and I also look for the possibility of adding a little speed. It was a tough choice of Forsythe over Jose Altuve, as these two have put themselves head and shoulders above the rest of the league at second base. Altuve is putting up the fantasy numbers (six home runs, nine stolen bases), but Forsythe is leading in OPS (1.036 vs 1.011) and wRC+ (199 vs 187). Even with Altuve’s nine stolen bases (compared to Forsythe’s three), Forsythe has a 1.1 BsR, the baserunning metric calculated by Fangraphs.com (Altuve has a -0.5). Ian Kinsler is having a solid year, specifically defensively (4 DRS) but has too much of a drop off from the offensive statistics from Forsythe.
Third base – Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles
This one is fun as arguably the two best players in the American League are third basemen. Machado gets the slight edge over Josh Donaldson due to small edges in nearly every statistic. For a third baseman, I’m looking for a place to add power but defense is something that is highly appreciated. Machado hasn’t been outstanding just yet defensively (1 DRS), but anyone who has seen his highlights knows he is as good as it gets. Donaldson has more home runs and RBIs, but that could be slightly increased by being on a slightly better offense.
Shortstop – Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox
At the shortstop position, I look for some speed but even more importantly, defense. Shortstop is arguably the most important defensive position on the field so I am going to put emphasis towards that. Carlos Correa has been the best offensive AL shortstop, but he has been booting the ball all month. Fangraphs has him at a -7 DRS! Bogaerts has been league average according to DRS, but has been better than that by other metrics. Bogaerts also has added five stolen bases and a 1.8 BsR. Elvis Andrus is another player who should be mentioned but poor baserunning (-2.4 BsR) brings him down a notch. One thing for sure, let’s make sure as a nation that Alcides Escobar does not make it back to the game. Escobar has been arguably the worst offensive shortstop in the AL.
Catcher – Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals
For catcher, I am primarily looking for defense. Catcher defensive statistics are not mastered but from what is available, not many are better than Perez. It doesn’t hurt that Perez has added a .267 ISO, by far the highest total for AL catchers. Perez has an MLB high 11 caught stealing while only allowing one passed ball. Adding in the fact that the Royals have one of the AL’s best pitching staffs, Perez makes for a deserving AL representative.
Left field – Colby Rasmus, Houston Astros
Rasmus has one of the more interesting narratives this season as he became the first player to ever accept a qualifying offer over the offseason. The Astros may or may not have wanted or expected him to accept the QO, but they certainly are not complaining after his production from the first month of the 2016 season. Many things have gone wrong for the 2016 Astros; Colby Rasmus is not one of them. Michael Saunders is about the only competition for Rasmus at the LF position (168 wRC+ vs 176 wRC+) but Rasmus has played a much better defense. Left field isn’t a position where defense is a priority, but the difference makes up for Rasmus’s small deficit in SLG (.579 vs .581).
Center field – Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
Center field, along with the shortstop position, are the most important defensive positions on the field. I want to make sure that defense takes high importance but that’s quite easy when Mike Trout is involved. Trout has been the best offensive center fielder by a long-shot. And even though Kevin Kiermaier took last year’s Gold Glove away from Trout, the Angels center fielder has even outplayed Kiermaier this year in the field, according to most metrics. Kiermaier has increased his offensive play and should surely be mentioned here, but Trout retains his throne for the first month of the 2016 season as the AL’s best center fielder.
Right field – Adam Eaton, Chicago White Sox
Normally I would say I want more power from my right field position, as I do from all of my corner positions. However, Eaton deserves to be on this team (and don’t call me biased). He’s been the most important position player on the American League’s best team and leads all of baseball in bWAR. The other attribute I am looking for in an ideal right fielder is a strong arm, and Eaton leads all of baseball with six outfield assists. His offensive numbers are outmatched by many right fielders, most notably Mark Trumbo and Jose Bautista, but Eaton gets my selection.
Designated hitter – David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox
I don’t like when players get an All-Star bid just due to their legacy, specifically starting spots. This year though, it works perfectly. Ortiz has had an amazing April on the beginning of his farewell tour. Even though Victor Martinez is putting up nearly identical numbers, the sentimental part of me has to give Ortiz the nod.
Of course I have to set my lineup as well.
1 – Logan Forsythe (R) – Forsythe has the highest OBP on this squad and although he has a higher K% (21.3 percent), he also has a decent BB% (11.7 percent). His speed, although not necessary, fits in nice for the leadoff spot for the big boppers behind him.
2 – Manny Machado (R) – I enjoy that the Orioles hit Machado second, so why would I go a different direction?
3 – David Ortiz (L) – Ortiz should have plenty of RBI opportunities with these two in front of him. Ortiz leads this team in OPS.
4 – Mike Trout (R) – Some may question why I have Trout behind Ortiz but I follow The Book pretty closely and believe that the fourth spot has more opportunities for run production. I think Machado has earned the more important second spot, but Trout will work well as the cleanup man.
5 – Colby Rasmus (L) – The alternating of lefty/righty/lefty is something I prefer to have in my heart of the order. Rasmus leads the team in several of the power categories. If there are runners on base, which there surely will often be, Rasmus will be ready for his opportunity.
6 – Chris Davis (L) – After Rasmus hits, the bases may be empty but Davis shouldn’t be bothered. Solo home runs are still pretty.
7 – Xander Bogaerts (R) – At the seventh spot, I like to turn my lineup over. Bogaerts will provide speed (five stolen bases is a team-high) and is likely to go first to third or score from second for the singles hitters behind him.
8 – Adam Eaton (L) – Eaton can provide a multitude of options from the eighth spot, including using the bunt to get on base.
9 – Salvador Perez (R) – Perez’s defense is his value to the team but we’re talking about a World Series MVP as my number nine hitter. I think I’ll be ok.