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National League 2017 All-Stars: Beyond the Box Score edition

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Take a look at our National League team, y’all

Arizona Diamondbacks v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

So how about that first half? Lots of exciting and intriguing things occurred, and plenty of story lines are being set up for 2017, part two. For a moment, though, let’s put all that aside. With the all-star break comes one of my favorite things we do here at Beyond the Box Score: create a team of our own! We have yet to perfect the robovote (#RobotVotesNow), so we had our staff vote in three rounds to elect this years’ team. We fancy ourselves knowledgeable sabermetricians, so a lot of the reasoning for our votes relies on advanced metrics, things of that nature. Not all of our votes are driven solely on Crab Rangoons data, but there is a noticeable difference between our roster and the popularity contes— I, uh, mean the actual All-Star team. There is a little variation down-ballot, meaning out vote doesn’t just present itself as a readout of the current FanGraphs fWAR leaderboard. This makes it interesting.

For the voting this year I didn’t lay out many rules, but here are some of the notable ones:

  • What I wanted was for people to vote for who they felt was deserving of an All-Star nod this season based on qualifications they determined themselves. This leaves a lot of wiggle room for why X player got a vote, but it helped create an interesting amount of variation.
  • Last season we decided to elect one player for each outfield position, but this year I decided to have people vote for three generic outfield spots.
  • The AL got a designated hitter in the first round, and because of this the NL got an extra wildcard spot in the final round. This felt fair.
  • Every franchise needed a representative, and those who had no starters or reserves received their all-star in the final round.
  • In the event of a tie, both players would be awarded an All-Star spot, and this came into play in the final round.

So now that the administrative stuff is out of the way, and after announcing the AL team yesterday, here is the National League team! Bolded names denote a player who was named to the actual 2017 All-Star team, an asterisk denotes a player who was voted in unanimously.

2017 BtBS National League All-Star Starters

  • Buster Posey — C (Giants)
  • Paul Goldschmidt — 1B (Diamondbacks)
  • Daniel Murphy — 2B (Nationals)
  • Anthony Rendon — 3B (Nationals)
  • Corey Seager — SS (Dodgers)
  • Bryce Harper — OF (Nationals)*
  • Cody Bellinger — OF (Dodgers)
  • Marcell Ozuna — OF (Marlins)
  • Max Scherzer — SP (Nationals)

Just like our American League team, only one guy is not a real-life All-Star. Like LoMo, Anthony Rendon was a player who ended up losing the Final Vote. For us, however, he was good enough to be a starter. Rendon has undoubtedly been good, but there are a mixture of reasons he was able to beat out Nolan Arenado and Justin Turner. Reasons like park factors deflating Arenado’s strong raw stat line, and Justin Turner missing a decent amount of the first-half due to injury. Either way, Rendon has combined production at the plate with good health which helped him fend off his two challengers.

Where our NL team is different from its’ AL counterpart is that four of our starters won’t be starting for the National League on Wednesday. Paul Goldschmidt, Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger, and the aforementioned Rendon all will be absent from the real starting lineup (though the first three are reserves). Nevertheless, all four are deserving picks. Goldschmidt is looking like he could take home his first MVP award, which this author predicted before the season (please don’t look at the other picks, just the one I might get right). Seager has lived up to his lofty expectations as a power hitting lefty at the top of this insanely good Dodgers lineup. Dido Cody Bellinger.

Other notables are Bryce Harper, who was the only National League player to receive a unanimous nod. Max Scherzer handily beat all other NL challengers in hand-to-hand combat hand-to-keyboard voting, as did Daniel Murphy and Buster Posey. Marcell Ozuna barely beat out Charlie Blackmon, which speaks to how strong that Marlins outfield is. One day we will surely look back and wonder how an outfield containing Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, and Marcell Ozuna consistently missed the playoffs (hint, it was pitching).

2017 BtBS National League All-Star Reserves

  • Yasmani Grandal — C (Dodgers)
  • Joey Votto — 1B (Reds)
  • Ryan Zimmerman — 1B (Nationals)
  • Freddie Freeman — 1B/3B (Braves)
  • Anthony Rizzo — 1B (Cubs)
  • Eric Thames — 1B/OF (Brewers)
  • Josh Harrison — 2B/3B (Pirates)
  • Justin Turner — 3B (Dodgers)
  • Travis Shaw — 3B (Brewers)
  • Nolan Arenado — 3B (Rockies)
  • Kris Bryant — 3B (Cubs)
  • Zack Cozart — SS (Reds)
  • Charlie Blackmon — OF (Rockies)
  • Michael Conforto — OF (Mets)
  • Ender Inciarte — OF (Braves)

To begin, there are a lot of names on this list. That is because there was a four-way tie for the fifth NL wildcard spot. So instead of arbitrarily splitting them up, I decided to include all of them on our team. Yasmani Grandal’s mixture of above average value at the plate and well above average framing numbers behind the plate held off a late and surprising “National League All Star, Tyler Flowers” push.

Ryan Zimmerman, Freddie Freeman, Anthony Rizzo, Travis Shaw, Eric Thames, Kris Bryant, and Nolan Arenado were all final round vote-ins. Freeman, had it not been for an injury that sidelined him for almost two months, likely would have competed in the earlier rounds. Zimmerman has been incredible in his comeback season, as has Thames. Travis Shaw has stood out as one of the best moves the Brewers front office made this past offseason, as he enters the break hitting over 30 percent better than league average.

Charlie Blackmon and Michael Conforto have hit very well this season, and Ender Inciarte made it largely on the back of his outstanding defense. In terms of the our voted-in outfield, however, the most interesting part is not those who made it. Either our writers really don’t like the NL outfield situation, or absolutely love most of the NL corner infielders. My guess is that both are true. Of the three team-designated nominees and the eight total wildcard spots, none were won by outfielders. Eric Thames is the closest you get, but he has become the Brewers everyday first baseman. Down-ballot, the only other OF’ers to even receive votes in the final round were Andrew McCutchen, Giancarlo Stanton, Chris Taylor, Adam Duvall, Tommy Pham, and Yasiel Puig. McCutchen missed out by one vote.

The same can be said for NL middle infielders, but the difference there is that Daniel Murphy, Corey Seager, Josh Harrison, and Zack Cozart took home most of the votes in the first and second round (75 of the 86 potential votes, to be exact). The only other middle-infielders to get acknowledged were Chris Taylor, Javier Baez, Joe Panik, Scooter Gennett, Jedd Gyorko Trevor Story, Chase Utley, and Orlando Arcia. Not exactly the most stout group to hang your ‘Aww, so-and-so player didn’t make it? The travesty!’ hat on. So, again, is the are NL OF and MIF’ers producing that poorly this season, or is the situation at the corners that good? You decide.

2017 BtBS National League All-Star Pitcher Reserves

  • Clayton Kershaw — SP (Dodgers)
  • Zack Greinke — SP (Diamondbacks)
  • Carlos Martinez — SP (Cardinals)
  • Stephen Strasburg — SP (Nationals)
  • Alex Wood — SP (Dodgers)
  • Jimmy Nelson — SP (Brewers)
  • Robbie Ray — SP (Diamondbacks)
  • Kenley Jansen — RP (Dodgers)
  • Corey Knebel — RP (Brewers)
  • Felipe Rivero — RP (Pirates)
  • Pat Neshek — RP (Phillies)
  • Brad Hand — RP (Padres)

Not very many surprises on this list. Clayton Kershaw and Alex Wood have been two of the best pitchers in baseball. The former for a quite a while, the latter for about three months. Zack Greinke has returned to form following a down 2016 season, owning a 2.86 ERA in 116.1 innings of work this season and the highest strikeout rate of his career. He is joined by fellow ‘bad 2016, good 2017’er and rotation-mate Robbie Ray, who was part of the four-way tie for the fifth wildcard spot. Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer have led voting, and the Washington Nationals to a sizable NL East lead heading into the break. Carlos Martinez and Jimmy Nelson also made the team. The former has been great this season for the Cardinals rotation. The latter just missed the second round cut, but led voting in the final round.

As for the bullpen, Kenley Jansen has been ridiculous at the back-end of the Dodgers bullpen. Corey Knebel has done the same, except change Dodgers to Brewers. Felipe Rivero has turned things around since his time in Washington last season. Pat Neshek and Brad Hand were the Phillies and Padres representatives, respectively. Both have been great this year. Neshek beat out a charge by two Aaron’s (Altherr and Nola), Hand held off Wil Myers by two votes. Despite Jimmy Nelson and Felipe Rivero not making the actual team, you’d have to think this is a result of name recognition. Both have been among the best this season. As unfortunate as that may be.

On the team level, one thing sticks out. The Cubs had no players voted in as starters or reserves in the first two rounds. They were one of three NL teams who needed a representative named. Kris Bryant won that nod, however Anthony Rizzo was able to sneak in thanks to the four-way tie. Overall, the Dodgers led with seven players named to the team — the Nationals placed in second with six. The Dodgers and Nationals combined to send 11 of the 25 players who received a spot in the first or second round for our voting — nearly half of the roster. Folks, these teams are very good.

If you’d like to see the full ballots, they’re posted here. Comment below if you agree or disagree with our NL All-Stars. Who would you put in? Who would you take out? Is this the most perfect All-Star team in history? Who did we get wrong on either ballot? Let us know!