It’s just about time for another MLB All-Star Game, this year in Washington DC. A lot of people say the All-Star game doesn’t mean anything and I don’t think the game itself really does. However, we judge players’ careers on All-Star appearances. When talking about a player, announcers often say ‘the 5-time All-Star’ or refer to his amount of All-Star appearances to rate a player. If it’s going to be used as a measure of a player’s career then I think it should be important to make sure the best players are selected.
To look at this, I made a composite algorithm including four different factors which I think are important in selecting all-star hitters. The first is my own algorithm which I’ll refer to as value. In my formula for value, Runs are worth 2, RBIs 2, Home Runs 6, Triples 6, Doubles 4, Singles 2, Stolen Base 2, Walks/Hit by Pitches 1.5, Sac Fly/Bunt 1. The basis being every base is worth 2 (single being more than a walk because of the opportunity to advance a runner). Home Runs and Triples are both listed as 6, but when Runs and RBIs are added in, a Home Run will be worth more. I weighted this value as 35% in the total ranking. I used this because this value represents all of the individual statistics that should be taken into account for an all-star.
The next statistic I used was WAR. Wins Above Replacement (WAR) is a sabermetric attempt to summarize a player’s total contributions to their team in one statistic. I also weighted WAR as 35% in my algorithm. I used WAR because it shows what a player is adding to his team and is expressed in terms of Wins. This can be easily compared to other players.
All the data used is from Fangraphs and is for this season through the date when the All-Star Game rosters were announced.
The third statistic I used is WPA (Win Probability Added). This stat tells us how much the hitter has increased or decreased his team’s chances of winning in his plate appearances. This stat gives an element of clutch to the formula and overall ability to help his team win offensively. I weighted WPA 15% in my algorithm.
The last statistic I used is Defensive Runs Saved. This stat gives a run value to the total defensive contribution by each player. I added this to the algorithm to give a defensive element. I weighted Defensive Runs Saved 15% in the total algorithm.
Let’s look at the results from my algorithm broken down by position. In all charts the Green shading represents an All-Star Starter, Orange shading is an All-Star reserve and White (unshaded) are players not selected into the All-Star game.
First Base makes sense, the right players were picked and Freddie Freeman is the rightful starter.
Second Base is pretty good too, only Ozzie Albies should probably be starting. Javier Baez has a certain flair and entertainment to his game which is hard to quantify.
At Shortstop, Brandon Crawford should probably not be the All-Star starter. It should be Trevor Story, and Trea Turner of the Nationals got snubbed from being in the game.
At Third Base, the right players were selected.
With Catchers, Willson Contreras probably shouldn’t be starting. Realmuto should, but he plays for Miami, so what fans are going to vote him in. Contreras is on a much larger market team and a better team so that’s why he has the votes. Molina also shouldn’t be the replacement, but he’s well respected around the league and a much bigger name than Grandal or Barnhart, who had better first halves.
Outfield is where it gets very complicated. Matt Kemp maybe shouldn’t be a starter and Charlie Blackmon shouldn’t be an All-Star. The snubs on here are David Peralta and Brian Anderson. A case can also be made for Starling Marte.
Now let’s look at the American League Hitters
Voters got this one wrong, but by rule every team needs to have a representative so the White Sox need someone. Matt Olson and Justin Smoak have been better than both Mitch Moreland and Jose Abreu. Abreu has a 0.1 WAR and is an All-Star, that’s means he is a replacement level player, yet he is an All-Star.
At Second Base, a case can be made for Whit Merrifield (especially because someone needs to represent the Royals and he’s their best player).
At Shortstop, the right guys are in, but Francisco Lindor should be starting. He is first in all four categories and is a reserve behind Manny Machado.
Third Base is good, I’m happy with the selections.
Looking at catchers, Wilson Ramos should be the starter, but now that he’s hurt and Yan Gomes is his replacement Salvador Perez will likely start. Salvador Perez should not be in this game and is here as the Royals only All-Star. Mike Zunino and Robinson Chirinos are just two of the more deserving catchers. Whit Merrifield should represent the Royals, it’s kind of a joke that Salvador Perez is called an All-Star this season.
In the outfield, the correct starters were picked, but for the reserves there were a few snubs. Eddie Rosario, Giancarlo Stanton and Nick Castellanos all have a case as snubs. Brantley and Springer are probably not All-Stars.
Finally, I will just show the AL DHs. These make sense, the only debate is if you consider Giancarlo Stanton a DH, then he has a case as well.
Quick reminder, the fans select the starters and the players select the reserves. Overall, I think the fans did a good job selecting starters. The players picking reserves were not as good, but it can be more difficult to select that second group of guys. There were some snubs and a couple guys who probably shouldn’t be in DC on Tuesday. I think a lot of the right players were picked and we shouldn’t be too mad at this year selections (except maybe Salvador Perez and Jose Abreu).