How Many All Stars Position-Players Will The Yankees Get?
By Chris O’Connor
June 22, 2022
The 2022 MLB All-Star Game will take place at Dodgers Stadium on Tuesday, July 19th. The rules for rosters are as follows: there are 32 players per team that includes 20 position players and 12 pitchers; each position, including DH, is represented and much have a backup; there is no distinction between the three outfield spots, so teams could have three center fielders, for example, in their starting lineup. Of the 12 pitchers, 3 must be relievers; and all teams must get at least one player selected.
The Yankees are having a magical season and will certainly send multiple players to Los Angeles. Who will make it from the Yankees? Let’s go position-by-position. (Later in the week I’ll look at the pitchers.)
Candidate: Jose Treviño
Verdict: No. When doing these lists, I found it difficult to strike a balance between wanting to reward guys for having career years vs. not falling victim to a three-month hot streak that will inevitably fade. In my mind, the tiebreaker should go to the established player who is more likely to keep up his performance, but only if it’s close. Salvador Perez, for example, is a 7-time All-Star and World Series champion, but he ranks tied for 25th among AL catchers with -0.4 fWAR, so I do not think that he deserves any consideration. For me, this came down to picking two from Treviño, Alejandro Kirk of the Blue Jays, and Sean Murphy of the Athletics. Kirk has started 33 games at catcher, Murphy 50, and Treviño 32. All three have excellent defense/framing metrics, with Murphy and Treviño separating themselves a little there from Kirk. Kirk and Treviño have hit better than Murphy. Kirk is at .307/.397/.464 for a 147 WRC+ and 2.2 fWAR; Treviño is at .283/.339/.462 for a 132 WRC+ and 1.8 fWAR; and Murphy is at .214/.289/.405 for a 102 WRC+ and 1.7 fWAR. I think that Treviño, when factoring in both offense and defense, has probably been a tad superior to both, but I think that it is close enough where the two more established players get the nod. Plus, Murphy’s edge in games played and the Athletics needing at least one representative may push him over the edge.
Position: First base
Candidate: Anthony Rizzo
Verdict: No. Rizzo has been terrific for the Yankees this season. In 65 games, he has a .233/.337/.513 line with 18 homers and 48 RBI’s. While the average and OBP are a little low, he has compensated with power, and his 142 WRC+ speaks to his overall excellence as a hitter. There are, however, two candidates that appear to have the inside trek. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has an identical 142 WRC+ and is more of a superstar at this point in his career than Rizzo. He has to be there. Ty France, meanwhile, has continued his ascendance to the tune of a .314/.391/.477 slash line with 10 homers and a 159 WRC+. France and Guerrero Jr.’s defensive metrics are far superior to Rizzo as well; Rizzo’s -4 OAA ranks 32nd among 37 qualified first baseman and his -3 defensive runs saved ranks next to last. I personally think Rizzo has been much better than that defensively, but even giving him a tie with Guerrero Jr. from a production standpoint, Vladdy's superstardom gives him the edge. France, meanwhile, has pretty clearly been better by almost every metric offensively and defensively, and his fWAR (2.2) easily outpaces that of Rizzo (1.3). Rizzo does not have the superstar credibility anymore; he has not had more than 4.0 fWAR in any year since 2017. Still a very solid, above-average regular, but no longer a superstar that can bank on name only to get the nod.
Position: Second base
Candidate: Gleyber Torres
Verdict: Yes. While he has not quite been the .300 hitter that some (ok, me) boldly predicted that he would be, Torres has really bounced back after two down seasons. He leads all AL second baseman in home runs (13) and ranks second in Defensive runs Saved (7) and WRC+ (137). I do think that Jose Altuve gets in because his offensive numbers are similar to Torres and he is an established star. However, I would give Torres the nod over guys like Santiago Espinal and Trevor Story because of his far superior offensive numbers, improved defense, and clutchness; his 1.14 WPA is easily ahead of Espinal (0.08) and Story (-0.12). I think that Luis Arraez is very deserving of a nod, but he has split time between first and second base and gets in as a utility guy.
Candidate: Isaiah Kiner-Falefa
Verdict: No. Not much to say here. IKF has certainly been a fine player and has helped to improve the Yankees contact hitting, defense, and baserunning, but his 86 WRC+ and 0.7 fWAR is hardly deserving of consideration. I think Xander Bogaerts and Jeremy Pena get the nod here, and if Pena is not selected due to injury or performance, most likely one of J.P. Crawford, Corey Seager, or Tim Andersen will replace him.
Position: Third base
Candidate: D.J. LeMahieu
Verdict: No. LeMahieu has had a nice bounce back year after a down year in 2021, but Rafael Devers and Jose Ramirez are far ahead of the pack and might challenge Aaron Judge for MVP. Not much of a discussion here, despite LeMahieu’s valuable versatility.
Candidates: Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton
Verdict: Aaron Judge is obviously a lock, but is this the year that Stanton gets in as a Yankee? He could be included on the DH ballot, but the Yankees use the DH spot as more of a quasi rest day for their players. Stanton has split time fairly equally between right field and DH, having started 25 games in the outfield in 53 games played. Even if he were included at DH, Yordan Alavarez and J.D. Martinez are pretty clearly ahead of the pack. As an outfielder, though? Judge, Mike Trout, Byron Buxton, and Kyle Tucker are four locks; they are statistically well ahead of the rest of AL outfielder and are all established, exciting players.
That leaves two more spots, and I think Mariners stud rookie Julio Rodriguez gets one. He combines an exciting playstyle (leads all of baseball with 18 stolen bases) with exceptional defense in center field and an above average bat (120 WRC+), not to mention top-prospect pedigree. The last spot has a number of deserving candidates, and I think Stanton gets it. He has the highest WRC+ (140) of any remaining candidate and his monstrous home runs and regular scorching missiles are something MLB should love to promote.
Stanton may not get in for a few reasons, though. For one, as mentioned, he has only started 25 games in the outfield. Two, the Orioles need a representative and both Austin Hays and Cedric Mullins have similar fWAR numbers as Stanton. One of them might get that final spot. And for as exciting as Stanton’s highs are, his superstar credibility is no longer enough to hold significant weight in a tiebreaker. Due to injuries and inconsistency, Stanton has just one season with more than 4.1 fWAR since 2015. That is not to say that Stanton is not capable of superstar performance; he certainly is, and he showed in the 2020 playoffs and down the stretch in 2021 that he can carry a lineup late in the season. But from a season-long, production standpoint, he has been more good than great in the recent past. This will certainly be a close one.
Assuming Yordan Alvarez and J.D. Martinez get the two DH spots, and Luis Arraez and his .361 batting average gets one of the utility spots, which leave one more available spot for any position. LeMahieu, Stanton, Rizzo, and Treviño may garner some consideration, but ultimately it feels like this is a spot for Shohei Ohtani. With 19 position players already represented, if anybody was putting together star-level production, they would have already been selected. While Ohtani might get in as a pitcher, that is more exclusive with only 12 of those spots open. It feels like Ohatni has to get in somehow, and this is where he may get in.
Ultimately, I think that, barring injury, Judge and Torres will be the Yankees two All-Star position players, with Stanton a third possibility. Having 2-3 position-player All-Stars may feel low for a team this good, but I think the Yankees offense gets by more on their depth than star-level production. Judge is really the only star in the lineup, but the area in which the Yankees offense stands out is having few weaknesses. They have five above-average infielders for four spots, and the Hicks/Gallo outfield spot in the lineup that has underperformed. With only that one glaring weakness, that should make Brian Cashman’s job easier at the trade deadline. For All-Star Game purposes, however, the Yankees may have a few more near-misses on the position-player side than many would like.