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

Take a look at who we elected to our American League All-Star team, y’all

MLB: New York Yankees at Houston Astros Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

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, here is the American 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 American League All-Star Starters

  • Gary Sanchez — C (Yankees)
  • Logan Morrison — 1B (Rays)
  • Jose Altuve — 2B (Astros)
  • Jose Ramirez — 3B (Indians)
  • Carlos Correa — SS (Astros)
  • Aaron Judge — OF (Yankees)*
  • George Springer — OF (Astros)
  • Mike Trout — OF (Angels)
  • Corey Dickerson — DH (Rays)
  • Chris Sale — SP (Red Sox)*

There is... little surprise in this lineup. In fact, Gary Sanchez and Logan Morrison are the only two players who were not voted into the actual American League lineup. Of course this isn’t the only time Logan Morrison is notable for being excluded from something Gary Sanchez gets to participate in. In real-life, Sanchez is an AL reserve and LoMo didn’t make the team after losing the Final Vote to Mike Moustakas. He can forget about all that now, because he has finally gotten what he has always wanted; a starting spot on the BtBS all-star team. Don’t spend it all in one place, kid.

In truth, only one race was close in the American League. Sanchez edged out Alex Avila for the starting catcher spot by one vote. Salvador Perez stole four down-ballot votes, which might’ve played a role in the Kraken’s victory. Once again, I guess we’ll forever be left wondering if the man from New York still would’ve won in the absence of competition from a third-party.

Chris Sale and Aaron Judge were both voted in unanimously, which isn’t surprising. Judge has been hovering around a 200 wRC+ all season, and Sale seems poised to strike out 300+ batters this season. These are two players who will likely be competing for the AL MVP, should they stay healthy, and they have been so fun to watch.

2017 BtBS American League All-Star Reserves

  • Alex Avila — C/1B (Tigers)
  • Justin Smoak — 1B (Blue Jays)
  • Yonder Alonso — 1B (Athletics)
  • Jonathan Schoop — 2B (Orioles)
  • Robinson Cano — 2B (Mariners)
  • Miguel Sano — 3B (Twins)
  • Xander Bogaerts — SS (Red Sox)
  • Andrelton Simmons — SS (Angels)
  • Mookie Betts — OF (Red Sox)
  • Steven Souza Jr. — OF (Rays)
  • Avisail Garcia — OF (White Sox)
  • Aaron Hicks — OF (Yankees)

Here is where it gets interesting. Alex Avila missed out on the starting spot, but beat out Salvador Perez handily for the backup role. That’s not much of a surprise; Avila has been the most productive catcher at the plate this season. He isn’t the best behind the plate, but his bat more than makes up for it, and he might be an interesting trade piece for the Tigers as we approach the deadline.

Including LoMo, the only real decisions at first for the American League all made it. The only difference is that Justin Smoak and Yonder Alonso happened to be BtBS reserves, which I’m sure is a trade-off they’d make for being actual all-stars. Alonso made it as the Athletics representative, but would’ve also earned a spot thanks to a tie for the fourth AL wildcard spot.

Speaking of team representatives, Robinson Cano won the Mariners nomination after barely losing the 2B reserve spot to Jonathan Schoop. Andrelton Simmons and Aaron Hicks were the only other position players to make it in the final round. The former nearly defeated Xander Bogaerts for the reserve SS spot, much like Cano v. Schoop, while the latter was part of a three-way tie for the fourth wildcard spot.

At the end of the day, Bogaerts (who lost the Final Vote), Simmons, Hicks, Souza Jr., and the aforementioned Avila were all members of the “BtBS-only All-Stars” club. There is an argument to be made that both Bogaerts and Simmons have outperformed Francisco Lindor this season, but it’s just splitting hairs. Bogaerts has been the best overall hitter, Lindor provides better power numbers, and Simmons has combined his outstanding defense with solid production at the plate. Pick your poison. In terms of Aaron Hicks, his injury likely kept him from winning an actual spot, which is sad because he has been one of the best outfielders in the league this season.

As for guys who barely missed the cut, Lorenzo Cain lost to Avisail Garcia for the final OF reserve spot by one vote before joining Mike Moustakas in losing out to Jason Vargas for the Royals’ representative spot by, you guessed it, one vote. Marwin Gonzalez, Justin Upton, and Elvis Andrus all missed the cut for the fourth wildcard spot by one vote, as well.

2017 BtBS American League All-Star Pitcher Reserves

  • Lance McCullers — SP (Astros)
  • Corey Kluber — SP (Indians)
  • Chris Archer — SP (Rays)
  • Michael Fulmer — SP (Tigers)
  • Yu Darvish — SP (Rangers)
  • Jason Vargas — SP (Royals)
  • Luis Severino — SP (Yankees)
  • Carlos Carrasco — SP (Indians)
  • Craig Kimbrel — RP (Red Sox)
  • Andrew Miller — RP (Indians)
  • Chris Devenski — RP (Astros)
  • Roberto Osuna — RP (Blue Jays)

Again, much like the AL starters, we largely agreed with the actual team. Chris Archer, Chris Devenski, and Roberto Osuna were late AL roster replacements, and all earned spots on our squad. Lance McCullers, Corey Kluber, Archer, Michael Fulmer, and Yu Darvish all won spots in the AL rotation in the second round of voting. I mentioned before that Vargas won the Royals’ representative nod, but three of the five wildcard spots went to pitchers. Roberto Osuna, Luis Severino, and Carlos Carrasco (who tied with Aaron Hicks) all won BtBS All-Star nods as final round wildcards.

In terms of relievers, it wasn’t much of a race for the top three spots. Craig Kimbrel, Andrew Miller, and Chris Devenski received 52 of the 60 votes possible for the top-3 relievers. The oddity here is that all three pitchers are distinctively different in how they are used. Kimbrel is more of a traditional closer, and has returned to absolutely dominating hitters. He owns a strikeout rate just over 50 percent in 2017. Andrew Miller is used around the seventh inning in high leverage situations, and has been his normal slider-heavy self. Chris Devenski is a unique multi-inning fireman who strikes out the world in the back of the Houston Astros bullpen.

Down-ballot, Dallas Keuchel didn’t receive many votes for the sixth starter or fourth wildcard spot. You’d have to assume this is because of the injuries he has dealt with, because he has otherwise been great. James Paxton is another pitcher in the same boat, and he nearly beat out Robinson Cano to be the Mariners representative. Overall, the four AL wildcard spots resulted in 37 total names being nominated from 19 votes. On the team level, the Houston Astros led all voting with five BtBS All-Stars. the New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays, Cleveland Indians, and Boston Red Sox each had four All-Stars a piece.

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