The Jays have 9 players playing at an all-star level
7 months ago
It’s all-star voting time.
While I personally am looking forward to the draft, which is taking place around the same time, the all-star game experience is a cool time for a lot of fans.
Last season, the Blue Jays sent four all-stars to the mid summer classic, Vladimir Guerrero Jr as a starter, Marcus Semien as a starter, Teoscar Hernandez as a starter, and Bo Bichette.
This season, you could make a case for quite a few more. Let’s look at all of their cases.
Santiago Espinal at second base:
When Marcus Semien left in free agency, it kind of sunk in that no one would produce one of the best seasons a middle infielder ever had. However, Espinal has done a wonderful job playing at an all-star level this season.
This season, the 27-year-old infielder is slashing .288/.344/.444 with 5 homers (a career high) with a wRC+ of 121. Furthermore, he has a K% of 16.3% and a BB% of 7.9%, rather low numbers.
This doesn’t even factor in his defense, which is some of the best in the major leagues. His Defensive Runs Saved of 4 is the 6th best, only behind Jonathan Schoop, Gleyber Torres and Trevor Story in the American League.
Espinal’s Outs Above Average of 6 sits second in the major leagues, only trailing Schoop who sits at… 11. Holy crap. While Schoop is on his way to winning the Gold Glove, Espinal is no slouch in that department.
Factoring in both offense and defense, Espinal’s fWAR of 1.9 ranks tied for 3rd in the league, trailing just Tommy Edman and Jazz Chisholm. He leads all American League second basemen in fWAR, and is tied with Jose Altuve.
To me, he is a sure fire bet to make the all-star game, although he may not be a starter because he’s not well known across the league.
Alejandro Kirk at catcher:
Kirk is a sure fire starter in my opinion. This season, he’s slashing .318/.401/.471 with five homers in 182 plate appearances. Kirk also has K% of 10.4%, which is incredible once you realize he’s walking 12.1% of the time.
His fWAR of 1.7 ranks second in all of the majors, only behind Willson Contreras of the Chicago Cubs. He’s tied with Jose Trevino of the Yankees, but Trevino only has 104 plate appearances to his name.
Kirk is no slouch defensively either. In fact, he’s an above average defender and one of the best framers in the league. You can read more about this here.
Kirk’s offense should get him the nod as the starter, especially if he continues to hit nukes.
George Springer at centre field
The last of the all-star starter guarantees is George Springer. When DM’ing my editor, he pointed out that I had forgotten Springer. I am ashamed.
Springer has shown that his contract is well worth it, as he’s slashing .278/.348/.522 with 12 homers and a wRC+ of 142. While his BB% of 8.1% has dropped below his career average of 10.9%, his K% of 20.5% is also below his career average of 22%.
Not just that, but he’s been an average defender at a premium position.
Next to Mike Trout, I’d argue that Springer is the best centre fielder in the American league. He’ll definitely make it as a sub, but it’s possible that he will beat out Mike Trout, because unlike Trout, Springer has a personality.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr at first base:
What hurts Santiago Espinal, helps Vlad Jr and quite a few other position players on this list. After putting up an insane season in 2021 where he finished second in MVP voting, Vlad has struggled so far this season… by his standards that is.
He’s slashing .250/.336/.477 with 14 homers, a wRC+ of 125 in 247 plate appearances. He also has a rather impressive BB% of 10.5%, while his K% sits at 17%. Certainly above average, and even all-star like.
However, compared to his stats last season, he looks like a much worse version of himself. In 2021, Vlad slashed .311/.401/.601 with 48 homers and a wRC+ of 166. His BB% sat at 12.3% while his K% sat at 15.8%. The 23-year-old needs to kick it into hyper drive if he wants to catch Aaron Judge in the MVP race.
With that being said, he’s putting up above average numbers and has the star power and the fanbase to vote him into the all-star game. Ty France of the Mariners may get in ahead of him, but Vlad deserves to be a sub at the very least.
Bo Bichette at shortstop:
Bo Bichette struggled mightily in April. He posted a slash line of .213/.237/.298 with two homers and wRC+ of 47 in 97 plate appearances. Not just that, but he couldn’t take a walk (3.1%) and struck out far more than his career average (26.8%).
That all turned around in May, where he slashed .296/.339/.537 with five homers and a wRC+ of 146 in 115 plate appearances. His BB% increased to 6.1% while his K% dropped to 23.5%. His June has been even better
In 52 plate appearances this month, he’s slashing .311/.404/.556 with three homers and a wRC+ of 173. Furthermore, his BB% has increased even higher to 13.5% while his K% has dropped significantly to 17.3%.
All together, his season slash line now sits at .267/.314/.449 with 10 homers and a WRC+ of 115. His K% is still above his career average (21.3%) at 23.5%, but has dropped quite a lot since April. Furthermore, he’s taking a walk at a clip that is near his career high, as it currently sits at 6.4%.
Can he do enough to get enough votes as a starter? More than likely not, as he has to contend with Xander Bogaerts, Carlos Correa, Jeremy Pena and Tim Anderson. However, his numbers and star power might be enough to earn him a spot on the bench. However, Bo Bichette has more homers than any of the players listed above.
Alek Manoah should be the American League starter. This season, he has posted the lowest ERA in the American League at 1.81. While his FIP is a higher 3.05, Manoah has been an ace in his 69.2 (nice) innings pitched this season.
His BB/9 has dropped to 1.68, down from 3.22 in 2021. While his K/9 has dropped to 7.88 (down from 10.24), he’s getting results, as he has 7 wins and only 1 loss.
While pitcher wins is a terrible metric to evaluate pitchers, he’s pitched on average 6.1 innings a start and has allowed roughly 1.5 runs per game. In fact out of his 11 starts, only one of those games hasn’t been considered a quality start.
Despite what Yankee fans, or the MLB twitter say, Alek Manoah has been the best pitcher in the American League, and he should be voted into the all-star game as a starter.
This season, Gausman has posted a 2.67 ERA and 1.75 FIP in 70.2 innings pitched. While his ERA is great, it’s not the best in the league.
That Fielding Independent Pitching on the other hand is by far the lowest amongst qualified players, for starters or relievers.
The reason it’s so low is because he only has a BB/9 of 1.27, while his K/9 is at 9.81. Furthermore, he’s only given up two homers in his 12 games pitched, and this is playing in the hitter friendly American League East.
Gausman should follow Manoah in the all-star game.
If you asked me back in April who the Blue Jays MVP was, I’d easily point to Jordan Romano. The amount of 1 run games that he had to save was insane, and it’s surprising his arm didn’t fall off.
At one point, he led the league in saves, but due to the Jays’ bats turning it around, we’ve seen less and less of him.
With that being said, he certainly deserves a mention in this article, even though I don’t think he’ll be nominated.
In 22.1 innings pitched this season, Romano has a 2.82 ERA and 3.18 FIP. His K/9 sits at a 10.48 while his BB/9 is at 3.22, a drop from his 3.57 in 2021. His 16 saves rank fourth in the league and tied for first in the American League.
Don’t forget, most of these saves have been in one run games, meaning the pressure is really on Romano, which other closers may not face.
This may come off as recency bias (spoiler, it isn’t), but I believe Stripling deserves to be an all-star.
His numbers are pretty fantastic, as he has a 3.14 ERA and 2.97 FIP in 43 innings pitched. Furthermore, he has a very low BB/9 of 1.67 while owning a K/9 of 7.33.
It’s not just statistics that lead me to believe Ross should be an all-star. Starter? Well, he’s given you 32 innings as the starting pitcher and has posted a 2.81 ERA with only 2 walks.
Reliever? He’s come on as their long reliever after the starters night has gone array. Hell, he even has a save after Jordan Romano pitched three nights in a row and loaded the bases.
Stripling is truly the unsung hero of the season so far, and it’s time he is recognized for it.
Who gets in:
I think Espinal, Kirk, Springer, Guerrero, Manoah and Gausman are all locks. Depending on how Bichette does until the all-star game, I think he has a good shot to make it as well. Romano and Stripling are long shots, but I believe they’ve both pitched to an all-star calibre this season.
As always, you can follow me on Twitter @Brennan_L_D.
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