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All-Star Game 2016: The Beyond the Box Score American League All-Stars

Join us as the BtBS staff selects their version of the mid-season All-Stars! Today we begin with the American League team.

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Hey there, baseball fans. With the Mid-Summer Classic just a few short weeks away, it's time for one of our site's most storied traditions: our shadow All-Star Game selections. Each year, the staff at Beyond the Box Score votes on our own selections for the players most deserving of All-Star berths without taking into account fan voting or manager nepotism. (Though, let's be fair, this year was pretty good on that account.) Instead, we use objective metrics and our own expert analysis of all things baseball to select our own All-Star team and publish it so you can decide if we've come up with a worthy alternative.

Starting today, we'll roll out our selections, with the American League team first. And, so you can mock us for our choices, we'll provide a spreadsheet with all the votes of our staff, so you can understand who we considered.

Here's a (not-so) quick recap the criteria I asked our writers to use when deciding on this year's All-Stars.

  • All-Star selection should be based primarily on objective analysis of on-field performance during the first half of the 2016 season.
  • Secondary considerations for All-Star selection can include, at your discretion: objective analysis of on-field performance during the second half of the 2015 season, a player's "true talent level", career accomplishments, or other factors.
  • The American League will have a starting designated hitter selected with the starters ... but the National League has their starting DH selected at the same time as the first set of reserves. Trust me, it worked.
  • Outfield positions will be broken down into LF / CF / RF as opposed to just placing three outfielders on each team. Given the differences between the three positions, this feels appropriate.
  • Each team will also have a starting pitcher voted on to the team. This pitcher is, presumably, the starter considered the best in his respective league at this time.
  • Each of the MLB franchises will have a representative, even though some teams are awful.

So, without further ado -- here is our American League team and the vote results!

2016 Beyond the Box Score AL All-Star Starters

  • Jose Altuve - 2B (Astros)
  • Mike Trout - CF (Angels)
  • Miguel Cabrera - 1B (Tigers)
  • David Ortiz - DH (Red Sox)
  • Manny Machado - 3B (Orioles)
  • Xander Bogaerts - SS (Red Sox)
  • Mookie Betts - RF (Red Sox)
  • Ian Desmond - LF (Rangers)
  • Salvador Perez - C (Royals)
  • Jose Quintana - SP (White Sox)
Many of these selections are no-brainers. For example, Cabrera, Trout, Ortiz, and Perez all probably are no-doubt selections because they are likely the top performers at their position over the season and all have a pretty solid resume as All-Stars. Trout leads all players in FanGraphs Wins Above Replacement, Ortiz is the best hitter in baseball, and Perez is head and shoulders above all American League catchers. Cabrera is one of the greatest hitters who ever lived and has been hitting like it again this year.

There are also two tiny guys on the team who were no-doubt selections: Jose Altuve and Mookie Betts. Both of them dominated our voting at second base and right field, respectively. But after those two a couple of choices were just a bit dicey. First, Ian Desmond won the left field position ... despite not really being that much of a left fielder. The Rangers outfielder has spent about a third of his games in the corner but two-thirds in center field, where his offense and defense both are more valuable. He edged out the Blue Jays' Michael Saunders–who has been hitting incredibly well, as displayed by his 141 wRC+–by only four votes.

Then, there is the curious case of Manny Machado. For all of our voters, there's no doubt that Machado belongs on this team. However, his position is the open question: he's spent a great deal of time at both shortstop and third base this season. Our voters ended up being torn: of the 17 first-round voters, 10 voted for Machado as the starting third baseman, while four voted him the starting shortstop. As a result, Machado won the third base starter voting, and Red Sox breakout superstar Xander Bogaerts handily won the shortstop vote ... leaving former MVP Josh Donaldson edged out of a starting role despite receiving seven starter votes – and playing a lot more third base this year than Machado. Don't worry, you'll be seeing the Bringer of Rain again.

Check it! Jose Quintana didn't even make the American League squad in the "real" world, but Quintana edged out teammate Chris Sale (by a single vote) for the starting slot on our team.

On to the position-player reserves!

2016 Beyond the Box Score AL All-Star Reserves

  • Matt Wieters - C (Orioles)
  • Edwin Encarnacion - 1B/DH (Blue Jays)
  • Robinson Cano - 2B (Mariners)
  • Brian Dozier - 2B (Twins)
  • Francisco Lindor - SS (Indians)
  • Carlos Correa - SS (Astros)
  • Josh Donaldson - 3B (Blue Jays)
  • Evan Longoria - 3B (Rays)
  • George Springer - RF (Astros)
  • Jackie Bradley Jr. - CF (Red Sox)
  • Michael Saunders - LF (Blue Jays)
  • Adam Eaton - RF (White Sox)
  • Mark Trumbo - RF (Orioles)
  • Nelson Cruz - RF (Mariners)
Do you think this team has enough right fielders? Yes, our BtBS All-Star teams tend to lean a little more in the direction of position players over pitchers, but this outfield has enough depth and power to cause any of the NL pitchers to choke a little.

On this list, the closest votes were between Matt Wieters and Stephen Vogt over the second (and, turns out, only) backup catcher spot – Wieters had eight votes, Vogt had three, and two others had three votes – and a tie for the team's designated Twins representative between Brian Dozier and Eduardo Nunez. Both Dozier and Nunez had five votes (two poor souls voted for Joe Mauer), and I selected Dozier as the tiebreaker. Why? Well, Dozier has more of a history of success and BtBS All-Star nominations, plus his offensive output this year is almost identical to Nunez ... until you take into account baserunning. Dozier remains an excellent runner (3.6 BsR this year, 16.8 BsR over his career), while Nunez has been an indifferent value creator on the basepaths (0.0 BsR) despite his 19 steals. These two were almost too close to call, which is to say both probably would've missed the cut if the Twins weren't guaranteed a representative.

Since there are so many players on this list, it's pretty hard to find a really good snub, at least in my estimation. The only guys over whom I'd really hem and haw would probably be Yankees outfielder Carlos Beltran and Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler. Both of these veterans have had remarkable seasons, but Beltran loses points for his lack of mobility and Kinsler probably suffers from the surfeit of good second basemen in the AL – Jason Kipnis and Dustin Pedroia also probably deserve consideration on top of all of the players we've selected. Also, Kyle Seager (12th in the AL in position player fWAR) gets overlooked again, which is par for the course.

2016 Beyond the Box Score AL Pitchers
  • Jose Quintana - SP (White Sox)
  • Chris Sale - SP (White Sox)
  • Corey Kluber - SP (Indians)
  • Steven Wright - SP (Red Sox)
  • Danny Salazar - SP (Indians)
  • Rich Hill - SP (Athletics)
  • Aaron Sanchez - SP (Blue Jays)
  • Andrew Miller - RP (Yankees)
  • Dellin Betances - RP (Yankees)
  • Zach Britton - RP (Orioles)
  • Will Harris - RP (Astros)
I warned you this would be a bit of a sparse list! To be fair, the starting pitching crop in the AL is weaker than usual this season, but still, we have only seven starters from five different AL clubs. Quintana and Sale were the easy one-two combo from our voters, who also made Kluber, Wright, and Salazar no-doubt choices. Things got dicey around injured lefty Rich Hill, who leveraged his remarkable strikeout rate (and story) to edge past Masahiro Tanaka and Justin Verlander by a single vote in our first round of reserve voting. During the second round of wild card voting, the last slot came down to Toronto's Aaron Sanchez, Ian Kinsler, and Carlos Beltran ... so I broke the tie by choosing the pitcher over yet another position player for this team. I'm sure Ned Yost will thank me later.

Relievers were a bit of a tougher row to hoe: in our first-round reliever voting 11 different relievers received votes. Andrew Miller (11 votes) and Dellin Betances (nine votes) were shoe-ins, but Zach Britton squeaked just past Will Harris by one vote for the third designated reliever slot. Harris, the unlikely hero of Houston's bullpen, earned enough votes to win a Wild Card slot in our final round of voting. Wade Davis, Craig Kimbrel, Kelvin Herrera, and (surprisingly) Sam Dyson received votes in both rounds where relievers could get votes, while Alex Colome got votes as the Rays' designated player in addition to recognition in the reliever and wild card rounds.

So there you have it! All of the complete voting can be found here. Feel free to comment and give us your thoughts on our selections in the comments below! Did we do better or worse than the real-world selections?