The 2020 SSG American League All-Stars

The polls have closed for the 2020 SSG All-Star selections and the teams have been announced. Since the game no longer determines home-field advantage for the World Series, its back to being an exhibition celebrating the best of the best in each league. Since there will be no All-Star game in the real-life MLB this summer, we have a chance to really focus in on the SSG league and the players voted in starting today with the American League. The Starters The following players received the most votes at their respective positions. In the SSG league, unlike the real-life MLB, pitchers are also selected via voting. Catcher – J.T. Realmuto (1st career All-Star selection), SSG Angels .323/.386/.523 (154 OPS+), 15 HR, 55 RBI, 5 SB, +2.0 ZR, 4.0 WAR First Baseman – Christian Walker (1st), SSG Orioles .287/.350/.467 (119 OPS+), 18 HR, 58 RBI, 1 SB, +1.1 ZR, 2.1 WAR Second Baseman – Trea Turner (1st), SSG Orioles .300/.363/.492 (129 OPS+), 11 HR, 52 RBI, 11 SB, -7.1 ZR, 2.5 WAR Third Baseman – Ryan McMahon (3rd), SSG Mariners .299/.413/.565 (169 OPS+), 21 HR, 82 RBI, 0 SB, -1.7 ZR, 5.0 WAR Shortstop – Leury Garcia (2nd), SSG White Sox .350/.388/.490 (139 OPS+), 6 HR, 28 RBI, 19 SB, -0.1 ZR, 2.8 WAR Left Fielder – Andrew McCutchen (8th), SSG Orioles .274/.355/.497 (128 OPS+), 19 HR, 67 RBI, 8 SB, +4.1 ZR, 3.6 WAR Center Fielder – Mike Trout (8th), SSG Angels .306/.411/.544 (163 OPS+), 17 HR, 59 RBI, 4 SB, +4.0 ZR, 5.2 WAR Right Fielder – Michael Choice (4th), SSG Blue Jays .293/.451/.612 (188 OPS+), 31 HR, 81 RBI, 10 SB, -1.1 ZR, 6.2 WAR Designated Hitter – Miguel Cabrera (14th), SSG Tigers .315/.401/.613 (172 OPS+), 31 HR, 73 RBI, 0 SB, +0.1 ZR, 4.2 WAR Starting Pitcher – Zack Greinke (4th), SSG Orioles 129.0 IP, 1.67 ERA (272 ERA+), 110 K, 27 BB, 0.91 WHIP, 2.61 FIP, 4.4 WAR Relief Pitcher – Aroldis Chapman (6th), SSG Orioles 52.0 IP, 1.21 ERA (377 ERA+), 98 K, 10 BB, 0.46 WHIP, 0.98 FIP, 2.8 WAR There will be a lot of orange and black taking the field to start the game for the AL; 5 Orioles were top vote-getters. Baltimore currently sits at 4.5 games back in the Wild Card race. Their ace Zack Greinke was elected to start on the mound for the junior circuit, but he was injured this past weekend, lowering the likelihood of him actually making an appearance. Baltimore also has 2 first-timers in first baseman Christian Walker and second baseman Trea Turner. Meanwhile, the most eye-popping numbers among all selections for the Midsummer Classic belong to reliever Aroldis Chapman. His previous career-low BB/9 was 4.0. So far in 2020, his BB/9 sits at 1.7, while he is still striking out a career-high 17.0 hitters per 9 innings. Finally, Left fielder Andrew McCutchen was selected for the third-straight year. At 33 he continues to be one of the most seemingly ageless players in the game. And speaking of ageless, Miguel Cabrera was selected for the 14th time, which is the highest among active players. He will start at DH. His Tigers have a commanding 13.5 game lead in the AL Central. Surprisingly, Cabrera will be Detroit’s only representative in the All-Star Game. Baseball’s best team, the Angels, will also be represented in the starting line-up; Catcher J.T. Realmuto makes his first All-Star team at 29 while center fielder Mike Trout makes his eighth at 28. One of baseball’s fastest players, Leury Garcia, will represent the White Sox, and one of baseball’s best power hitters, Ryan McMahon, will represent the Mariners in the starting line-up as well. Finally, unsurprisingly, the AL leader in WAR, OBP, OPS, runs scored, and walks, Michael Choice, is easily elected for the fourth straight season. His AL East-leading Blue Jays are well represented among the reserves below as well. The Reserves The following players are selected as reserves based on several factors, including vote totals, positional distribution (enough from each position to make up a whole team), and if necessary players from a team with no selections will get priority as each team needs a representative based on the league rules. Catchers Dan Combs (1st), SSG White Sox .279/.349/.484 (126 OPS+), 13 HR, 42 RBI, 0 SB, +1.4 ZR, 3.1 WAR Kevin Plawecki (4th), SSG Blue Jays .346/.396/.560 (158 OPS+), 9 HR, 36 RBI, 0 SB, +0.6 ZR, 2.6 WAR Plawecki was traded to Toronto in the offseason and he hasn’t missed a beat. He has become a regular in the Midsummer Classic as he made 3 straight trips with his former team in Minnesota between 2016-2018. Despite missing 5 weeks early on due to a back injury, he is third in the AL in WAR among catchers. Dan Combs from Chicago is second among catchers in WAR (behind the AL starter Realmuto) and he’s selected to his first All Star game at just 23 years old. His defense was considered suspect in the minors before his big league debut in 2019, but he has been serviceable behind the plate this season. His big bat (129 wRC+ in 2020) is unquestionable, though. Infielders Xander Bogaerts (4th), SSG Red Sox .258/.351/.547 (138 OPS+), 26 HR, 57 RBI, 0 SB, -6.8 ZR, 3.5 WAR Luis Carpio (1st), SSG Yankees .322/.374/.503 (139 OPS+), 6 HR, 25 RBI, 3 SB, -0.8 ZR, 1.0 WAR Prince Fielder (8th), SSG Rangers .281/.404/.497 (144 OPS+), 18 HR, 56 RBI, 0 SB, -1,9 ZR, 3.1 WAR Amarys Minier (1st), SSG Twins .253/.341/.527 (132 OPS+), 27 HR, 72 RBI, 2 SB, -4.8 ZR, 3.4 WAR Yoan Moncada (1st), SSG Red Sox .297/.365/.522 (137 OPS+), 16 HR, 61 RBI, 3 SB, +1.3 ZR, 4.3 WAR Raul Mondesi (1st), SSG Royals .282/.318/.499 (121 OPS+), 18 HR, 54 RBI, 18 SB, -1.6 ZR, 3.2 WAR For Boston, Xander Bogaerts is, of course, a great hitter and due to the injury to the elected starting SS Leury Garcia, he will probably start the game. However, as I noted in my list of the best third baseman prior to the start of the season, Yoan Moncada had not been selected to a Midsummer Classic entering 2020. He finally breaks that ignominious streak this year. He’s on pace for 27 HRs and a 7.2 WAR which would be career highs. The Red Sox rivals in the Bronx, meanwhile, send just one representative: 23 year old infielder/DH Luis Carpio. He’s put up good offensive numbers but in only 45 starts. So he probably falls under the category of “reluctant selection given to a player from a bad team with no other candidates”. The Yankees have the worst record in baseball at 28-66. The speedy SS Raul Mondesi from Kansas City and the powerful 3B Amarys Minier from Minnesota are also first timers. Mondesi is on pace for 30 SB and Minier is on pace for 45 homers. Rangers 36 year-old DH Prince Fielder returns to the All-Star Game for the first time since 2017. It’s the eighth selection of his career. Outfielders Ed Lee (1st), SSG Angels .250/.341/.581 (150 OPS+), 32 HR, 90 RBI, 0 SB, -3.7 ZR, 2.8 WAR Johnny Moore (1st), SSG Mariners .320/.390/.579 (165 OPS+), 20 HR, 57 RBI, 16 SB, -0.6 ZR, 4.0 WAR Dalton Pompey (3rd), SSG Blue Jays .268/.316/.515 (122 OPS+), 24 HR, 58 RBI, 9 SB, +1.0 ZR, 3.3 WAR Isael Soto (1st), SSG Spiders .265/.323/.532 (130 OPS+), 22 HR, 58 RBI, 3 SB, +1.5 ZR, 3.0 WAR Nick Williams (1st), SSG Blue Jays .294/.337/.554, 20 HR, 52 RBI, 6 SB, +1.8 ZR, 2.9 WAR The reserve outfielders for the AL include four first-timers. For Isael Soto, it seems like a change of scenery was just what he needed; after parts of 4 seasons with Miami in which he tallied 0.7 WAR total, Soto already has a 3.0 WAR for his new team in Cleveland this year. In what will be his first full season, Ed Lee from the Angels is on pace for 54 home runs. He had 27 of them in only 86 games last year. Meanwhile, Johnny Moore’s power speed combo has contributed to a great breakout season for him in Seattle after being traded from Milwaukee in the offseason. He’s on pace for 33 HR and 26 steals. Both Lee and Moore primarily play DH, so there was tough competition in the election process (with Cabrera leading the charge). Nick Williams from Toronto also finished second to only Andrew McCutchen in voting for the LF spot. He and Michael Choice are making their trade from the Rangers last year look very lopsided so far. Oh, and the Blue Jays also have their CF Dalton Pompey on the AL All-Star Team for the third time. Toronto is in first place and 5 games up in the AL East at the break. Starting Pitchers Gerrit Cole (3rd), SSG Angels 98.0 IP, 2.02 ERA (220 ERA+), 97 K, 22 BB, 0.86 WHIP, 2.99 FIP, 2.7 WAR Felix Hernandez (9th), SSG Mariners 136.0 IP, 2.58 ERA (173 ERA+), 111 K, 28 BB, 1.04 WHIP, 2.73 FIP, 4.3 WHIP Nate Karns (1st), SSG Rays 64.2 IP, 2.51 ERA (177 ERA+), 71 K, 28 BB, 1.22 WHIP, 2.61 FIP, 1.6 WAR Steven Matz (2nd), SSG Angels 111.2 IP, 2.82 ERA (158 ERA+), 107 K, 38 BB, 1.12 WHIP, 3.74 FIP, 1.9 WAR Derrek McGriff (1st), SSG Angels 132.1 IP, 2.65 ERA (168 ERA+), 133 K, 24 BB, 1.10 WHIP, 2.89 FIP, 3.8 WAR Henry Owens (2nd), SSG Red Sox 104.1 IP, 2.16 ERA (212 ERA+), 129 K, 32 BB, 1.03 WHIP, 2.89 FIP, 3.1 WAR As expected, the Angels’ rotation is well represented. Cole and Matz were considered two of the best in the league entering 2020, but McGriff is in the middle of a big break-out. In his first All-Star campaign, McGriff is on pace to have a higher WAR than either Cole or Matz. This shouldn’t be the last time we see him at the Midsummer Classic as he is only 24. The future Hall of Famer King Felix is selected for the 9th time, all with Seattle. Amazingly, at 34 he is on pace for 7.0 WAR which would be a career high. Last season, he and his team made the playoffs for the first time in his career. They’re sitting in the second Wild Card spotat the break, just 1 game behind Boston. The Red Sox rotation is led by lefty Hunter Owens. He is selected to the All-Star Game for the second year in a row. His 2.16 ERA is third in the AL behind only the aforementioned Cole and the elected starter for the game Zack Greinke. Nate Karns is the Rays only representative. He was recently moved to the starting rotation due to his success in the bullpen. Relief Pitchers Jung-Ho Chang (1st), SSG Twins 53.2 IP, 2.85 ERA (160 ERA+), 85 K, 22 BB, 1.04 WHIP, 2.57 FIP, 1.9 WAR Tyler Clippard (4th), SSG Spiders 39.0 IP, 3.23 ERA (139 ERA+), 49 K, 14 BB, 1.10 WHIP, 3.44 FIP, 0.5 WAR Dan Otero (1st), SSG Blue Jays 57.2 IP, 1.72 ERA (263 ERA+), 40 K, 9 BB, 0.90 WHIP, 2.87 FIP, 1.1 WAR Luis Severino (1st), SSG Royals 76.2 IP, 3.40 ERA (132 ERA+), 55 K, 15 BB, 1.06 WHIP, 3.89 FIP, 1.0 WAR Shawn Tolleson (1st), SSG Rangers 60.0 IP, 1.65 ERA (276 ERA+), 88 K, 18 BB, 0.85 WHIP, 2.04 FIP, 1.8 WAR 4 of the 5 relief pitchers for the AL are first timers. Shawn Tolleson is selected for the first time at 32, as he has had success after the Rangers moved him to the bullpen last year. Among all major league relievers with at least 52 innings in 2020, his 0.85 WHIP is second only to Aroldis Chapman (0.46 WHIP). Luis Severino was moved to the pen even more recently; he started the season in the Kansas City rotation and made 10 starts before being moved to relief duty in late May. He’s posted a 2.42 ERA since then. Jung-Ho Chang from the Twins becomes the first South Korean player in MLB history to be selected to the All-Star Game in his debut season. Last but not least among first-timers is Dan Otero, who represents a Toronto bullpen that has the 4th lowest ERA in the AL. His 1.72 ERA is the best of that group. The only returning All-Star among AL relievers is Tyler Clippard from the Spiders. In a fun coincidence, his 4 selections have all come exactly 3 years apart from one another (2011 and 2014 with Washington, 2017 with San Francisco, and now 2020 with Cleveland). Most Players by Team 1) SSG Angels (6 total, 2 starters) 2) SSG Orioles (5 total, 5 starters) 3) SSG Blue Jays (5 total, 1 starter) 4) SSG Mariners (3 total, 1 starter) 5) SSG Red Sox (3 total, 0 starters) Thanks for reading. Tomorrow, we’ll have a look at the NL All-Star team, so stay tuned.