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The Five MLB All-Star Voting Story Lines We’re Watching

Could the Yankees send their entire infield as starters? Who’s getting snubbed?

Getty Images/Ringer illustration

MLB All-Star voting begins on Wednesday. Kind of. In the past, MLB held one voting period, and the players with the most votes at their position were named All-Star starters. This year, MLB changed the rules. They already held a primary vote for fans to whittle down each position to a top three. Now that the field has been whittled, fans will vote in a general election among the top three players at each position. If this sounds like a cluttered and confusing approach to the democratic process, it’s appropriate that it will take place from Wednesday at noon ET to Thursday at 4 p.m.—the same two days as the double debates for the Democratic primary.

Anything involving democracy leads to controversy, so let’s look at five story lines entering the 28-hour election period. It’s important to be an informed voter.

The Yankees could dominate the AL infield.

The Yankees used to dominate the AL infield with Derek Jeter, Robinson Canó, and Alex Rodriguez. Now they might do it with Luke Voit, Gleyber Torres, Gio Urshela, DJ LeMahieu, and Gary Sánchez. New York had a player make it to the final three at every infield position, and the team has an outside chance to earn three of the five infield spots. Sánchez led the AL catcher primary with 2.3 million votes, while Chicago’s James McCann and Houston’s Robinson Chirinos combined for 2 million—which makes some sense because Sánchez has 23 home runs and McCann and Chirinos have combined for 19. Sánchez is a safe bet to win.

New York’s Luke Voit also led primary voting at first base, albeit by a much smaller margin, and he is neck and neck with Cleveland’s Carlos Santana. Alex Bregman will likely destroy Gio Urshela and Hunter Dozier in voting at third base (though the Royals are trying their hardest). Shortstop Gleyber Torres and second baseman DJ LeMahieu were both third in voting for their positional primary, but Torres leads the other AL shortstops in home runs, and LeMahieu has 3.3 WAR versus José Altuve’s 0.5. Only one of those two needs to earn a surprise win to give New York a serious chance at three infielders.

Aaron Judge is somehow eligible.

Speaking of the Yankees, Aaron Judge is on the ballot. He injured his left oblique on April 20 and returned June 21. The first half of the season spans 103 days, and Judge has already missed 62 of them. He also hasn’t been stadium-shaking when he’s played, with just six home runs and two doubles in 105 plate appearances. If you care about the All-Star Game being related to first-half performance, Judge making the roster would be blasphemous.

But if you love fun, it would be delightful. Judge hits baseballs harder than anyone. He won the Home Run Derby as a rookie in 2017. More importantly, he stood next to José Altuve. Having Judge involved in All-Star festivities is the #brandactivation #marketing MLB needs to reach #GenZ.

OK, maybe he shouldn’t be allowed in the game.

Some great players will get snubbed.

Yankees fans aren’t the only ones committing egregious voting errors that must be publicly shamed. The NL leaders for WAR among position players are Cody Bellinger, Christian Yelich, Pete Alonso, and Ketel Marte. The first two rightfully have the most votes in the NL. The third player—the Mets’ ridiculous rookie—didn’t even make the cut at first base. It’s a crowded field with Freddie Freeman, Josh Bell, and Anthony Rizzo, but Alonso losing the chance to start is tough, especially when he is second in the league in home runs, fourth in slugging percentage, and first in TOGTGFTFBRN (The Only Good Thing Going for This Fan Base Right Now).

The fourth player in offensive WAR in the NL is Marte, who finished third in the second base primary behind Atlanta’s Ozzie Albies and Milwaukee’s Mike Moustakas. Albies received nearly twice as many votes despite Marte having more hits, home runs, a higher average, higher slugging percentage, and twice as many WAR in two fewer at-bats. He hasn’t lost yet, but consider this getting ahead of the injustice when he loses. Adam Jones will not be happy.

At third base, Washington’s Anthony Rendon missed the cut for the NL, though the bright side for Washington fans is they have new evidence he’s the most underrated player in baseball.

The system is working.

It’s easy to point out flaws in MLB’s fairness policies, but the rule that requires that every team have a representative could do justice for at least one player. Pittsburgh’s Josh Bell is having an outstanding breakout year. He leads MLB in RBIs (66), doubles (28), and extra-base hits (51), and is tied for third in total bases with Atlanta first baseman Freddie Freeman. But Bell fell behind Freeman in the fan voting in the primary, and he may not make the final cut in the general round. Pittsburgh is doing their damnedest to avoid this.

But he is far and away Pittsburgh’s best player, so he’s a lock to make it onto the NL roster. Sometimes systems do work.

The Yelich-Bellinger face-off could mirror the NL MVP race.

The two players neck and neck for the most All-Star votes are also neck and neck for NL MVP. Bellinger had 3.69 million votes in the primary, while Yelich had 3.65 million, a roughly 0.3 percent vote differential. That might also be the gap between the two for NL MVP voting by the end of the year. If the season ended today, Bellinger would likely win the award, but defending MVP Yelich is quickly gaining on him. Their stats through Monday are quite similar across the board (updated through Monday).

Cody Bellinger vs. Christian Yelich

Name Year Runs Doubles Triples Home Runs RBI Batting Average Slugging % OPS+ Offensive War Total WAR
Name Year Runs Doubles Triples Home Runs RBI Batting Average Slugging % OPS+ Offensive War Total WAR
Cody Bellinger 2019 62 17 2 25 62 0.353 0.702 196 4.3 6.4
Christian Yelich 2019 63 16 2 29 63 0.342 0.744 196 4.3 4.7

They lead the NL in WAR by a healthy amount, with the exact same offensive WAR but a significant gap in defensive WAR; Yelich is replacement level while Bellinger is the second best defender by WAR in baseball. Bellinger’s defense is the differentiator right now, but Yelich is on pace for almost 60 home runs. If he reaches that number—and he could—he would be the sixth player to do so, joining Babe Ruth, Roger Maris, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, and Barry Bonds. If he joins that group, it’s a far better narrative than Bellinger’s defense, and narrative always plays a bigger role in voting than voters wants to admit—in baseball and in other things.