MLB All-Star teams at 2020 season’s midpoint: Trout, Judge start for AL; Harper, Betts, Soto in NL outfield

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Supposedly the coinage of Chicago sports editor Arch Ward, MLB’s All-Star Game has been a reliable midsummer presence since the first edition in 1933. Over the years, the All-Star Game has persisted through wars, labor strife, terrorist attacks, and economic upheaval. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, however, proved too much. 

No, there will be no 2020 All-Star Game. The 91st Midsummer Classic was scheduled to take place in Dodger Stadium, but the urgent nature of the revised schedule allowed for no such leisured detours. Even so, there is quiet nobility in standing athwart reality. And that’s what we’re here to do. 

Since we’re roughly at the midpoint of the 60-game regular season, it’s time to declare from on high what the admittedly nonexistent 2020 All-Star teams should’ve been. We’ll stick to the roster rules that were in place for last year’s edition — i.e., 32-man rosters; 20 position players and 12 pitchers on each squad; all 30 teams must be represented by at least one player. Since there’s obviously no fan vote this year, we’re also determining who should be starters and who should be reserves. 

While I would never deprive anyone of their rights to blood-churning anger over inane minutia, the following personal All-Star selection criteria may preempt a syllable or two of full-throated yelling about the choices to follow. Regard: 

  • Performance in 2020 matters to me when it comes to selecting All-Stars, but it’s not the sole consideration.
  • If given choice between two players who are comparable in their 2020 outputs, I’ll go with the more established star or the one with the stronger long-term track record of performance. That’s especially the case this year, since we’re talking about just 30 games or so of in-season performance to date. The word “star,” after all, is a prominent part of the name of this event. “Which player would fans in general be more excited to watch?” is a question that can decide some otherwise close calls. 
  • That said, an established star who simply isn’t performing this season isn’t going to get the nod — Nolan Arenado, for instance. 
  • Players who are presently on the IL and not likely to return right away are not eligible for consideration. For example, DJ LeMahieu would likely have cracked the list to come if he weren’t out with a thumb injury. 
  • In order to make these rosters theoretically viable, we’ll have each position covered multiple times (shortstops are assumed to also be capable of manning second and third), and each roster will have three catchers. 
  • Outfielders are selected without regard to specific outfield position. 
  • The starting DH spots will be reserved for those players who have been primary DHs this season.
  • While production at the plate is the driver for position players, defense and base-running also matter. 
  • As for relievers, this scribe likes to get their presence to a minimum. That’s particularly the case this season, when the innings samples of relievers are so small as to be nigh meaningless. We’ll give each team one traditional reliever for ninth-inning detail, but we don’t have to like it. 

Got it? Doesn’t matter. Below you’ll find the 32-man rosters for the AL and NL 2020 All-Star teams. Each roster is divided up into three sections — starters (including the starting pitcher), pitchers, and reserves. Thirty-two players each. We counted and everything. Some deserving players were left out because of positional considerations or the need to have all 30 clubs represented, and many of those names have been listed under the “notable snubs” sections. Proceed immediately there if you’re here solely for purposes of righteous lamentation. Now let’s get on with it. Plenary powers, activate.

2020 American League All-Star Team

Starters

Catcher

After missing all of the 2019, Perez — a six-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glove winner — is having an especially strong season at the plate. 

First base

The veteran Abreu has been the AL’s most productive first baseman in 2020. 

Second base

He’s got an OPS north of 1.000, which is excellent production, especially by positional standards. 

Third base

Tough call between Rendon and Matt Chapman. Rendon gets the slight edge for his better numbers at the plate.

Shortstop

Anderson broke out with the bat last season, and he’s kept it going in 2020. 

Outfield

Trout hasn’t been the best player in the AL this season, but the game’s biggest star continues to produce at a high level. 

Outfield

headshot-image

Judge missed a little time with injury, but otherwise he’s been hitting for power at customary levels (and then some). 

Outfield

The rookie Lewis has been a rare bright spot for the Mariners. Right now he leads the majors in OBP and leads the AL in hits. 

Designated hitter 

The ageless one continues to punish the baseball. He’s off to one of the best starts of his career. 

Starting pitcher

Bieber simply put has been the most dominant starting pitcher in MLB this season. 

AL Pitchers

AL Reserves

Notable snubs: Chris Bassitt, Athletics; Dylan Cease, White Sox; Alex Colome, White Sox; David Fletcher, Angels; Robbie Grossman, Astros; Eloy Jimenez, White Sox; Whit Merrifield, Royals; Kyle Seager, Mariners; Phillips Valdez, Red Sox; Alex Verdugo, Red Sox

2020 National League All-Star Team

Starters

Catcher 

Realmuto is in the discussion for best defensive catcher in the game right now, and he boasts a slash line of .294/.348/.612 at the plate.

First base

Paul Goldschmidt, who’s been more productive on a rate basis, also has a case for starting duty, but Freeman gets the nod because of his playing time edge. 

Second base

Cano’s spent time on the IL this season, but the (likely) future Hall of Famer has been producing at vintage levels when healthy in 2020. 

Third base 

Machado’s an established star who remains a plus fielder at third and who’s putting up some of the best offensive numbers of his career.

Shortstop 

San Diego’s electrifying shortstop has been the NL MVP thus far. 

Outfield 

While the sample size is much smaller, Harper on a rate basis this season is producing right in line with 2015, when he won the NL MVP award. 

Outfield

Betts is still perhaps the best defensive corner outfielder in the game, and he’s got an OPS of more than 1.000 with 11 home runs in 28 games. 

Outfield 

The 21-year-old Soto missed the first seven games of the season, but since rejoining the roster he’s been absolutely crushing the ball. He’s one of the most exciting hitters to watch right now.  

Designated hitter 

Winker’s a former highly regarded prospect who at age 27 may be finally enjoying a breakout season at the plate. 

Starting pitcher

You can argue for Max Fried, Yu Darvish, or Trevor Bauer in this spot, but we’ll give it to the back-to-back Cy Young winner. DeGrom missed basically one start while on the IL with elbow soreness, but he’s pitched at his customary level before and since.

NL Pitchers

NL Reserves

Notable snubs: Jake Cronenworth, Padres; Jack Flaherty, Cardinals; Kenley Jansen, Dodgers; Elieser Hernandez, Marlins; Merrill Kelly, Diamondbacks; Starling Marte, Diamondbacks; Dustin May, Dodgers; Brandon Nimmo, Mets; Donovan Solano, Giants; Adam Wainwright, Cardinals; Zack Wheeler, Phillies

Thank you in advance for mute agreement with all of the above. 

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