On Sunday around noon, the ballot finalists for the 2021 All-Star Game were announced. While there were players I expected to make the cut, a plethora of more deserving players did not. I will show the ballot finalists in the American and National League for each position, followed by who my biggest snubs are.
Catchers: AL (Sal Perez, Martin Maldonado, Yasmani Grandal); NL (Buster Posey, Yadier Molina, Willson Contreras)
Snub: Gary Sanchez
At one point in time, Sanchez was looking like the future catcher for the Yankees for years to come. However, his lack of defensive prowess and inability to get on base consistently turned fans against the once-beloved catcher. After a very slow start to the 2021 season, Gary has turned his season around. Over 58 games, he has 13 home runs and an exceptional .838 OPS. His OBP is up to .345, which shows his improvement in plate discipline this season.
While Perez is clearly the best catcher in the AL, I believe Sanchez should crack this finalists list. Maldonado should be the first to go, as his .171/.256/.285 slash line is horrendous. While Grandal is also under the Mendoza line, he does have a terrific .385 OBP, and a .804 OPS. With this in mind, the finalists should be Perez, Sanchez, Grandal, in that order.
First Baseman: AL (Vlad Guerrero Jr., Yuli Gurriel, José Abreu); NL (Max Muncy, Freddie Freeman, Anthony Rizzo)
Snub: Matt Olson
The fact that Olson is not a finalist is a disgrace and shows how broken a system of fan voting is. I have always been a huge Abreu fan, but there is no reason why he should be a finalist. Though he has slowly improved his performance this year offensively after a bad start, his numbers pale in comparison to Olson’s. Coming off an MVP season, Abreu has just a .318 OBP, .750 OPS, and a career-low .432 slugging percentage.
Olson is having a career year, as he has 20 home runs, 53 RBIs, and an excellent .296/.375/.588 slash. His OPS of .963 is outstanding, and it is even more impressive considering that he plays in a tough hitters ballpark in Oakland. Vlad Guerrero Jr. is clearly the front runner for starting first baseman in the AL for the All-Star Game, and I believe Olson and Gurriel should round out the top-3 finalists in the AL.
Second Baseman: AL (Marcus Semien, Jose Altuve, DJ LeMahieu); NL (Ozzie Albies, Adam Frazier, Gavin Lux)
Snub: Jake Cronenworth
Thus far in his young career, Cronenworth has proven to be an incredibly durable player. He leads the league in games played at 78 this year and is putting together an All-Star worthy season. He has compiled 82 hits and 12 home runs thus far, and a .825 OPS, which is quite good considering his position. While Gavin Lux has had his moments this season, it just proves how seriously Dodgers fans take their voting. Lux is hitting a mere .229, with a lowly .309 OBP. While Albies and Frazier are surely deserving of being finalists, Cronenworth deserves that third spot over Lux.
Third Baseman: AL (Rafael Devers, Alex Bregman, Yoan Moncada); NL (Kris Bryant, Nolan Arenado, Justin Turner)
Snub: Jose Ramirez
It is clear that Devers is the best third baseman in the AL, and deserves that number one spot. It is appalling that Ramirez is not a finalist, given the great power numbers he has put together so far this season. He has 16 home runs, 44 RBIs, and an excellent .855 OPS. While Alex Bregman has been one of the best third basemen in baseball, his power numbers are down this year. He has just 7 home runs, and a low .787 OPS, which is uncharacteristic of him. While Moncada’s power numbers are also significantly lower than Ramirez’s, he does have a .403 OBP and a .802 OPS, which puts him over Bregman. Given the power surge that Ramirez has seen this season, the finalists in the AL should be Devers, Ramirez, Moncada in that order.
Shortstop: AL (Xander Bogaerts, Bo Bichette, Carlos Correa); NL (Fernando Tatis Jr., Javier Báez, Brandon Crawford)
Snub: Trea Turner
While Tatis is the obvious front runner for starting shortstop in the NL, I do not think that Báez should be a finalist. While he does have 17 home runs, his OPS does not match this power. He has just a .725 OPS, which is certainly a result of his poor.263 OBP. Turner is having a terrific year, as he has 92 hits and a .310 batting average. He leads the league with 16 steals and has been caught stealing just 3 times. His .361 OBP is significantly better than Báez, as is his .832 OPS. With this being said, he surely deserves a spot on this finalists list over Báez. In order, it should be Tatis, Crawford, and Turner rounding out the finalists for NL shortstops.
Outfielders: AL (Mike Trout, Aaron Judge, Byron Buxton, Michael Brantley, Adolis García, Teoscar Hernández, Cedric Mullins, Alex Verdugo, Randal Grichuk); NL (Ronald Acuña Jr., Nick Castellanos, Jesse Winker, Mookie Betts, Chris Taylor, Juan Soto, Bryce Harper, Joc Pederson, Mike Yastrzemski)
Snubs: Bryan Reynolds, Kyle Schwarber, Austin Meadows
Pirates outfielder Bryan Reynolds is having a resurgent year, and it is clear that voters are not paying attention. He leads all NL outfielders with a 3.4 WAR and has a tremendous .311/.399/.534 slash. He also has a career-high .933 OPS, which shows how premier of a player he is.
Kyle Schwarber is also having an incredible year, as he is on a home-run tear. He has 22 on the year, to pair along with 50 RBIs, and a .884 OPS. When looking at NL outfielders that did make the cut, Joc Pederson and Mike Yastrzemski are terrific players but are not nearly as deserving as both Reynolds and Schwarber.
To round out the outfielders, I look at a promising young player in Tampa Bay. At age 26, Austin Meadows has established himself as one of the premier power hitters in the AL. He has 16 home runs and 54 RBIs over 73 games this year, and a solid .818 OPS as well.
I understand that this may be controversial, but I believe he should take over Mike Trout’s spot as an AL ballot finalist. While Trout was off to a terrific start this year and is still the best player in baseball, he just does not have the games played that I would like to see. He has played in just 38 games this year and has no clear timetable for a return.
Just to recap, below is my “lineup” for the ballot finalist snubs:
C: Gary Sanchez
1B: Matt Olson
2B: Jake Cronenworth
3B: Jose Ramirez
SS: Trea Turner
OF: Bryan Reynolds
OF: Kyle Schwarber
OF: Austin Meadows
I intentionally left a Designated Hitter off my snubs list, as it is the only position that I did not disagree with in ballot finalists. Though I am disappointed with how the voting turned out, I am incredibly excited for the All-Star Game and the other festivities included in the All-Star break.