This is part six of a nine-part series where we look at each position in the National League for the All-Star roster. We will see how different contributors constructed their All-Star rosters, as well as which players deserve to make the team. Check the storystream in the right bar for previous entries in the series.
The past parts of the series have been more focused, but now we move to a broader portion of the series. The outfield is a broad category with several positions to fill. With so many positions to fill, what is the best approach to picking players? A few of those spots will be easy to fill, but the rest will have plenty of possibilities, and a deeper year in the outfield could make this a tough decision.
Here are the top 20 candidates by fWAR:
Current All-Star Voting Results
Results as of Sunday evening, from MLB.com:
The Contributors Vote
|Voter||Starter #1||Starter #2||Starter #3||Reserve #1|
|Cheeseandcorn||Yasiel Puig||Giancarlo Stanton||Carlos Gomez||Justin Upton|
|Derek Harvey||Carlos Gomez||Giancarlo Stanton||Yasiel Puig||Justin Upton|
|Fred Hofstetter||Carlos Gomez||Yasiel Puig||Giancarlo Stanton||Justin Upton|
|Hangwithem Rach||Carlos Gomez||Giancarlo Stanton||Yasiel Puig||Andrew McCutchen|
|-JP-||Giancarlo Stanton||Yasiel Puig||Carlos Gomez||Andrew McCutchen|
|Jordan Mader||Giancarlo Stanton||Carlos Gomez||Yasiel Puig||Andrew McCutchen|
|Noah Jarosh||Yasiel Puig||Giancarlo Stanton||Carlos Gomez||Michael Morse|
|NPetrashek||Giancarlo Stanton||Yasiel Puig||Carlos Gomez||Charlie Blackmon|
|Voter||Reserve #2||Reserve #3||Reserve #4||Reserve #5||Reserve #6|
|Cheeseandcorn||Andrew McCutchen||Seth Smith||A.J. Pollock||Hunter Pence|
|Derek Harvey||Andrew McCutchen||Ryan Braun (DH)||Seth Smith||Charlie Blackmon|
|Fred Hofstetter||Hunter Pence||Andrew McCutchen||A.J. Pollock||Seth Smith||Jason Heyward (A)|
|Hangwithem Rach||Justin Upton (DH)||Charlie Blackmon||Seth Smith||Ryan Braun (A)|
|-JP-||Justin Upton (DH)||Seth Smith||Ryan Braun||Hunter Pence (A)|
|Jordan Mader||Justin Upton (DH)||Charlie Blackmon||Seth Smith||A.J. Pollock||Hunter Pence (A)|
|Noah Jarosh||Andrew McCutchen||Seth Smith||Justin Upton||Ryan Braun|
|NPetrashek||Andrew McCutchen||Ryan Braun||Jason Heyward|
Before I start the analysis, I think it's important to point out that these ballots were submitted around two weeks ago at this point, so some of these voters may change their picks if they re-voted today.
Even though the order differed, all eight voters put the same three players as their starters: Giancarlo Stanton, Yasiel Puig, and Carlos Gomez. They are three of the four best outfielders in the National League right now, so the choice is definitely justified. After that, opinions started to differ more. Andrew McCutchen was the only other outfielder on all eight ballots, and as a top four outfielder that also makes sense. Seth Smith and Justin Upton made seven of the eight ballots. It got more uncertain after that, as the remaining votes were divided between Jason Heyward, Charlie Blackmon, Hunter Pence, Michael Morse, A.J. Pollock, and Ryan Braun.
There was plenty to say on the outfield. Here is what the voters thought:
Cheeseandcorn: "I really wanted to find space for Braun, but couldn't justify it at this point - he's just missed too much time. Pollock has missed just a bit less and has been just a bit better, so I gave him the nod, even though he's currently injured."
Derek Harvey: "I feel like Ryan Braun is kind of a homer pick even for reserve players. His wRC+ puts him right in the mix though and if it weren't for the DL stint I think he'd rank just outside the top 5 in NL fWAR so maybe it's not. I have Seth Smith because he's really just killing it this year. Charlie Blackmon because he was just ridiculous that first month. He's sucking now, but whatever. Let Rockies fans have their guy."
Fred Hofstetter: "Hunter Pence and Angel Pagan are virtually interchangeable, but I went with Pence because of how uncomfortable it is to watch him do things."
Hangwithem Rach: "I can't help it. I just really want Braun to make the team."
Noah Jarosh: "Outfield, Gomez could get beat out but the other two clearly belong. Of players I left off, Hunter Pence may be the most likely to make the team due to his status on the team with the current best record in the league." (Jason Heyward and Angel Pagan were also players worth mentions but didn't make his team.)
NPetrashek: "I think those are the three guys at OF and I don't think its particularly close. Would have loved to put Charlie Blackmon on the [starting] ballot but oh well."
Looking at that top 20, there is a natural divide between the top players The top tier is the top four players, theoutfielders that are clearly above everyone else. These four outfielders (Giancarlo Stanton, Andrew McCutchen, Carlos Gomez, Yasiel Puig) are considered to be the best four outfielders in the National League, and that is reflected in the fan vote so far. There's not much debate about whether these outfielders should be in the game. The only question is which ones will make it through the fan vote and which will be added through the players/coaches vote.
After that, the choice gets a bit more cloudy. No candidates really stand out above the others. Justin Upton has received attention with his power, and Charlie Blackmon's hot start also caught a lot of people's attention. A.J. Pollock was looking like a near lock to make the team until he broke his hand, and that is expected to keep him out until around August. Billy Hamilton isn't doing much on the offensive side, but his speed might be enough to get him some consideration. Hunter Pence and Angel Pagan are playing well, and playing on the NL team with the best record is always a boost. Seth Smith had a hot May that got him into the conversation, and despite a cold June, the "minimum one player per team" rule could get him a spot on the roster (someone from the Padres has to be on the team). Then there's Ryan Braun. He may not have had the same stats he has had in the past, but he still has the star power to make the team. As much as he has been booed in opposing stadiums, he's still getting votes from fans. At least some people want to see him in the game.
Out of all of these choices, who makes the team? I'd say three to four of those candidates should join the top four on the roster. It may end up coming down to the manager's preference here. I think any combination of players from the outfield could be chosen and I wouldn't be surprised. There are enough choices here that anyone left out wouldn't really be "snubbed", just didn't get someone's preference. The only snubs would be if any of the top four are left out of the game.
Unfortunately, this means that Khris Davis' chances of making the game aren't looking good. While he has improved in May & June, that cold April will probably keep him off the All-Star roster. This leaves the Brewers outfielders chances as one lock, one maybe, and one miss.
If you went by the contributor vote above, the consensus would be an outfield that looks something like this:
How does that lineup look for the outfield? The "snubs" in this case would be Hunter Pence and A.J. Pollock. Should either of them be in above one of the players above?
Now that you've seen the case for the outfield, what do you think? This is your chance to voice your opinion. Below is a Google form; fill that out to submit your vote for the position. Each pick will be assigned a point value that will be used to determine the results (pick #1 gets the most, pick #8 gets the fewest). Please vote only once. The poll will remain open until noon tomorrow.
Note: Not all eight of these picks would potentially make the team. There are three starter and three reserve guaranteed for the outfield, but the remaining two will be for possible bench spots in what bench spots are available. You do not have to fill in all eight spots, only six are required.