These players deserve a spot in the All-Star Game

35 minutes ago

Have you filled out your 2022 MLB All-Star ballot today? You can submit up to five per every 24-hour period until June 30, and you may want to take advantage of that as there are plenty of players on either side who are worthy of your vote.

But every team has at least one player whose case to appear in the Midsummer Classic at Dodger Stadium should be a no-brainer. With the help of each MLB.com beat writer, here’s a look at the most deserving All-Star for each club.

All statistics updated through Sunday unless noted otherwise

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

Blue Jays: C Alejandro Kirk
Previous All-Star appearances: 0
Did anyone have Alejandro Kirk leading all American League catchers in FanGraphs WAR (2.2) entering Monday? The 23-year-old has made remarkable strides defensively, but his bat has always been the main attraction. Kirk has caught fire after a slow April, becoming one of the best young offensive catchers in baseball in the process. The Blue Jays also have Danny Jansen (10-day IL) and No. 1 prospect Gabriel Moreno, but Kirk’s talent at the position is a perfect fit for this lineup, which is why he earns so many DH reps on days off. Toronto has plenty of candidates, but at catcher, Kirk is a name that is about to become very popular across baseball. — Keegan Matheson

Orioles: OF Austin Hays
Previous All-Star appearances: 0
At long last, the Orioles are receiving a fully healthy version of Hays, their third-round Draft pick in 2016, and they are seeing the maximized version. Hays has starred for the Orioles on both defense and offense, a steady bat that’s even more productive in clutch situations. Trey Mancini may be more deserving by overall career arc and closer Jorge L?pez by utter dominance, but neither contribute to the club as nightly and in as many manners as Hays does. — Zachary Silver

Rays: SP Shane McClanahan
Previous All-Star appearances: 0
McClanahan is probably on the short list of candidates to start the game, considering the dominant start the 25-year-old left-hander has had. McClanahan leads the Majors with 105 strikeouts, and he also ranks among the American League leaders in ERA (1.84), innings (78 1/3), WHIP (0.86), opponents’ average (.185) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (7.00). The Rays’ emerging ace would also put on a great show in the Midsummer Classic, featuring a four-pitch arsenal that includes a triple-digit fastball and three elite, swing-and-miss offspeed offerings. — Adam Berry

Red Sox: 3B Rafael Devers
Previous All-Star appearances: 1
Each year, Devers seems to get a little better. This season, he is on the short list of the most impactful sluggers in the game. The 25-year-old leads MLB in hits (88) and hard-hit balls (114) and holds a share of the lead in total bases (161), extra-base hits (40) and multihit games (24). Devers is among the top 10 in the American League in doubles, runs, homers, RBIs, average, slugging percentage and OPS. He has been on fire for more than a month. From May 8-June 19, Devers had a slash line of .358/.426/.709 with 12 homers and 31 RBIs. — Ian Browne

Yankees: OF Aaron Judge
Previous All-Star appearances: 3
The Yankees figure to be well-represented in Los Angeles, but if we’re looking for the most deserving case, you couldn’t go wrong by selecting Judge. The Major League leader in home runs, Judge is the front-runner for the AL MVP Award, enjoying an all-around performance that could see him take aim at Roger Maris’ single-season AL record of 61 home runs. Judge appears among the league leaders in all three slash-line categories, runs scored and RBIs, all while deftly shifting to take over as the Yankees’ everyday center fielder. — Bryan Hoch

AL CENTRAL

Guardians: 3B Jos? Ram?rez
Previous All-Star appearances: 3
Despite Ram?rez battling some right thumb soreness, the third baseman has put together an impressive case to have his ticket punched to Los Angeles. Ram?rez is outpacing all other American League hitters with 62 RBIs and sat tied for second in fWAR (3.9) of all third basemen entering Monday. He’s among the best in on-base percentage (.397, tied for eighth in MLB), slugging percentage (.642, third), OPS (1.039, third), doubles (20, tied for eighth), triples (four, tied for second) and has been fanned only 20 times. Guys such as Shane Bieber, Eli Morgan and Andr?s Gim?nez have put together solid campaigns to earn their way to L.A., but no Guardian has a r?sum? like Ram?rez. — Mandy Bell

Royals: OF Andrew Benintendi
Previous All-Star appearances: 0
Benintendi got off to the hottest start of his career and leads the Royals in average (.295), on-base percentage (.358) and OPS (.740). He’s taken over the No. 2 spot in Kansas City’s lineup as its best hitter, and earlier this season, he put together an 11-game hit streak. It’s easy to put Salvador Perez’s name here for his eighth All-Star nod, or even a rookie like Bobby Witt Jr., who is sure to earn plenty of appearances at the Midsummer Classic in his career. But Benintendi earned his first Gold Glove last year and has proven to be as reliable as they come for the Royals, so why not add an All-Star appearance to his r?sum?? — Anne Rogers

Tigers: SP Tarik Skubal
Previous All-Star appearances: 0
The Tigers have had a reliever as their sole representative in the past three All-Star Games; no Tigers starter has made it since Michael Fulmer in 2017. Skubal is having the kind of season that would warrant an All-Star spot whether the Tigers needed a representative or not. The 25-year-old not only has stabilized an injury-depleted Detroit rotation, he has blossomed into one of baseball’s top young starters. His 2.49 FIP ranked second among AL starting pitchers entering Monday, while his 9.5 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9 rates both place him among the top 10 in the league. His changeup and curveball are both nasty strikeout pitches with high whiff rates. Give him one inning to throw on a Midsummer Classic stage, and the southpaw can bulk up his fastball into the high-90s. — Jason Beck

Twins: 1B Luis Arraez
Previous All-Star appearances: 0
Yes, Byron Buxton is healthy and doing his thing and also finally deserves his first All-Star appearance, too. But seriously, have you seen the season that Arraez is putting up? Even while playing mostly first base, which gets dinged in WAR calculations, Arraez has been more or less Buxton’s equal in Baseball-Reference WAR this season because he is leading the AL in batting average (.361) and on-base percentage (.443) by healthy margins, doing enough with his extreme on-base ability to offset his relative lack of power. He has been the ultimate tablesetter for one of MLB’s most productive offenses, and he’s doing it in a way almost nobody does anymore in the modern game. — Do-Hyoung Park

White Sox: SS Tim Anderson
Previous All-Star appearances: 1
A case could be made for Andrew Vaughn, who is proving to be a complete hitter in his sophomore season, and Jos? Abreu always is a productive choice among first basemen. But Anderson gets the nod, even with the right-handed hitter being out of action since May 29 with a strained right groin. The White Sox are a different team with Anderson in the lineup, as shown by his .356/.393/.503 slash line over 40 games to go with five home runs, 19 RBIs, eight stolen bases and 24 runs scored. The shortstop is the ignitor who moves this White Sox offense. — Scott Merkin

AL WEST

Angels: OF Mike Trout
Previous All-Star appearances: 9
Trout, 30, is having another incredible season despite a career-worst slump in early June and is on track to be an All-Star for the 10th time in his career. The only thing that has held Trout from playing in an All-Star Game in the past has been injuries, but he’s been healthy and productive this season. Two-way star Shohei Ohtani isn’t having quite the type of season he had last year when he was the AL MVP, but he also is considered a lock to be an All-Star. — Rhett Bollinger

Astros: DH Yordan Alvarez
Previous All-Star appearances: 0
The slugger entered Monday ranked third in the American League with a .403 on-base percentage and fourth with a .623 slugging and a 1.026 OPS. He’s tied for fourth in home runs with 18 and tied for fifth in runs with 41. He had a 17-game on-base streak snapped Saturday, during which he hit .476 (30-for-63) with four doubles, one triple, six home runs and 22 RBIs to raise his average to .316. Following the departures of George Springer after the 2020 season and Carlos Correa after last season, Alvarez has emerged as the Astros’ best hitter and one of the top young sluggers in baseball. — Brian McTaggart

Athletics: SP Paul Blackburn
Previous All-Star appearances: 0
If there were an award for Most Improved Player, Blackburn would be in line for it. Entering 2022 with a career 5.74 ERA through his first five big league seasons, the right-hander has emerged as an unlikely ace for the A’s. Blackburn’s 2.26 ERA ranks fifth among qualified American League starters, just ahead of future Hall of Famer Justin Verlander. His 1.5 fWAR entering Monday ranked 15th in the AL among starting pitchers. — Mart?n Gallegos

Mariners: 1B Ty France
Previous All-Star appearances: 0
France isn’t just in line to play in his first Midsummer Classic — a case could be made that he deserves to be the AL’s starter at first base. Entering Monday, he led the AL at the position with 2.2 fWAR. He is hitting well above .300, is a plus defender and has played in all but one game. France has been on an upward trajectory for most of his career, dating back to the Minors, where he flew under the radar while coming up with the Padres. But he’s now firmly established himself as one of the Majors’ most consistent hitters, and he’ll soon be recognized as such as a first-time All-Star if he remains healthy over the next few weeks. — Daniel Kramer

Rangers: SP Mart?n P?rez
Previous All-Star appearances: 0
In his 11th big league season, P?rez has put together a career year, one that is no doubt deserving of an All-Star spot. The lefty has gone through elite stretches before, but nothing quite like his 2.10 ERA over his first 13 starts of the season. Through 81 1/3 innings, he’s struck out 65 batters against just 18 walks. Entering Monday, his 2.7 bWAR leads the entire Rangers squad and is good for third among AL pitchers. P?rez has been the heart of this Texas team this season, and he definitely deserves an All-Star nod. — Kennedi Landry

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

Braves: SS Dansby Swanson
Previous All-Star appearances: 0
Austin Riley is heading toward another 30-homer season, and both Max Fried and Kyle Wright have been among the NL’s top starting pitchers. But Swanson is ranked fifth among NL position players with a 3.0 fWAR, and he has been the NL’s best shortstop both offensively and defensively. — Mark Bowman

Marlins: SP Sandy Alcantara
Previous All-Star appearances: 1
Alcantara has proven himself to be one of the best pitchers in the Majors this season. He leads MLB in innings (99 1/3) and entered Monday leading NL pitchers in fWAR (2.7). The 26-year-old right-hander also has the second-lowest ERA (1.72) in the National League. It’s not a matter of whether he will make his second Midsummer Classic, but rather will he start it? — Christina De Nicola

Mets: RP Edwin D?az
Previous All-Star appearances: 1
With respect to Pete Alonso, who faces stiff competition among a deep crop of NL first basemen, D?az has been nearly unhittable at the back of New York’s bullpen. D?az’s saves total might not be gaudy, but that’s simply because the Mets (thanks to Alonso and company) have frequently blown out opponents. When he’s pitched, D?az has been electric, leading the Majors in strikeout rate. — Anthony DiComo

Nationals: 1B Josh Bell
Previous All-Star appearances: 1
Bell has set the clock back to 2019, when he earned his first (and only) All-Star selection with the Pirates. Through 69 games, the first baseman is slashing .294/.378/.476. He leads the Nationals in OPS (.854), RBIs (44) and he ranks second in home runs (11), including four in his past five games. While Juan Soto is likely to earn his second consecutive All-Star nod, Bell is having a standout season. — Jessica Camerato

Phillies: DH Bryce Harper
Previous All-Star appearances: 6
Bet a month’s mortgage or rent that Harper makes the NL All-Star team. He has been simply incredible this season, even as he plays with a torn UCL in his right elbow. He’s among the top four in the NL in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS. He ranks in the top 10 in home runs and RBIs, giving him a very outside chance at a Triple Crown. — Todd Zoelcki

NL CENTRAL

Brewers: RP Josh Hader
Previous All-Star appearances: 3
Hader finally allowed a run in his 20th appearance of the season on June 7 against the Phillies after another record-setting start to a season. He logged saves in each of his first 18 appearances (the previous record was 12), which was a factor both in the way the Brewers use their closer these days and also Hader’s excellence. Before the Phillies touched him for two home runs during that hiccup, Hader had held opposing hitters to 4-for-58 with 28 strikeouts and one extra-base hit, a double. He’s won three of the past four NL Reliever of the Year Awards and seems to be getting better. — Adam McCalvy

Cardinals: 1B Paul Goldschmidt
Previous All-Star appearances: 6
Goldschmidt has made six All-Star Game appearances, but he hasn’t played in the Midsummer Classic since 2018. This season, he is an absolute no-brainer to be the starting first baseman for the NL — despite strong challenges from Pete Alonso and Freddie Freeman. Goldschmidt ranks first in the NL in batting average (.344), hits (86), on-base percentage (.423), slugging percentage (.624) and OPS (1.047). He also ranks second in RBIs (58), tied for third in doubles (22) and seventh in home runs (16). He also sat second in fWAR (3.5) entering Monday. Earlier this season, Goldschmidt had a 25-game hit and a 46-game on-base streak. And in a recent two-day stretch over three games, Goldschmidt had nine hits, four home runs, nine RBIs, five extra-base hits and no strikeouts — something that hadn’t been accomplished at the MLB level since Ty Cobb in 1925. — John Denton

Cubs: C Willson Contreras
Previous All-Star appearances: 2
Contreras was the starting catcher for the Senior Circuit in both 2018 and ’19, and he has a strong case to earn that same honor this year. Through 57 games, Contreras is hitting .283/.395/.532 with 12 homers and 27 RBIs. His 158 OPS+ entering Monday indicated that he has performed 58% better than the MLB average as a hitter. The addition of the designated hitter, combined with the presence of veteran backup Yan Gomes, has allowed Chicago to keep Contreras in the lineup regularly while helping save his legs. The result has been career-best production, including some of the best hard-hit statistics in baseball. On top of the numbers, Contreras has shown he is not distracted by the ongoing trade rumors, and he has stepped up more as a vocal leader behind the scenes for the Cubs’ younger players. — Jordan Bastian

Pirates: RP David Bednar
Previous All-Star appearances: 0
The Pirates have a pair of All-Star candidates in Bednar and Ke’Bryan Hayes, but Bednar gets the nod here given his sustained success from the season’s beginning. Bednar has morphed into one of the game’s best relievers, posting a 1.34 ERA across 33 2/3 innings. Entering Monday, he had a 2.36 FIP, and he has converted 11 of 13 save opportunities. — Justice delos Santos

Reds: 3B Brandon Drury
Previous All-Star appearances: 0
The Reds have had a knack in recent years of making low-profile signings or waiver claims who have had career years — think Scooter Gennett or Derek Dietrich. The 2022 version for the Reds is Drury, who was signed to a Minor League contract on March 21 and made the club as a non-roster player. Because injuries thinned the roster, Drury seized the opportunity and broke out from his utility role to become an essential hitter in the lineup’s second spot. Drury leads Cincinnati in several offensive categories, including home runs (14), OPS (.848), slugging (.516) and runs (42). He’s almost assured of breaking his career high of 16 homers for a season well before the All-Star break. Catcher Tyler Stephenson might have been the easy pick before he fractured his thumb to miss 4-6 weeks. But that shouldn’t diminish Drury’s bid, and he’s very deserving of the nod. — Mark Sheldon

NL WEST

D-backs: SP Zac Gallen
Previous All-Star appearances: 0
When Brent Strom left the Astros to join the D-backs as pitching coach, his former co-workers told him that if Gallen didn’t win a Cy Young under his tutelage, then Strom should be fired. That’s the kind of respect that Gallen gets from opposing teams. The right-hander has had two subpar starts, but outside of that, he has once again pitched outstanding for the D-backs. — Steve Gilbert

Dodgers: OF Mookie Betts
Previous All-Star appearances: 5
Betts landed on the injured list with a right rib fracture on Sunday, but the Dodgers wouldn’t be in first place without his stellar contributions. Betts was arguably the best hitter in baseball in May, and his 17 home runs are leading a lineup that has struggled to find consistency despite the team’s lofty preseason expectations. The All-Star Game is better when Betts is in it, and he should be the most deserving player to represent the home team in Los Angeles’ All-Star Game. — Juan Toribio

Giants: OF Joc Pederson
Previous All-Star appearances: 1
Pederson earned his first All-Star nod in 2015 after blasting 26 home runs during his rookie campaign with the Dodgers. He’s making a case to return to Dodger Stadium for his second All-Star selection, as he currently leads Giants regulars with 14 home runs and an .894 OPS through 56 games this season. — Maria Guardado

Padres: SP Joe Musgrove
Previous All-Star appearances: 0
Manny Machado, perhaps the NL’s best position player in the first half, and Musgrove, perhaps its best pitcher, are equally deserving. But let’s give Musgrove the edge since, somehow, he’s yet to make an All-Star team in seven seasons in the big leagues. That seems a near certainty to change in 2022, with Musgrove having posted an MLB-best 1.59 ERA through 12 starts. In fact, Musgrove’s first appearance in an All-Star Game might just come as the NL’s starting pitcher. — AJ Cassavell

Rockies: 1B C.J. Cron
Previous All-Star appearances: 0
Having to scratch for at-bats on an Angels team that included Albert Pujols, then bouncing around to the Twins, Rays and Tigers (usually providing production) prepared Cron for his big chance with the Rockies. A .905 OPS in ’20 earned him a two-year, $14.5 million contract. This year’s start — with 17 home runs, 52 RBIs and a .905 OPS — should earn him the recognition that comes with an invitation to the Midsummer Classic at Dodger Stadium. Cron has started all but one of the Rockies’ games this season, appeared in them all and all but 10 of his starts have been at first base — a testament to his development at the position after spending much of his AL stint as a designated hitter. — Thomas Harding