What Braves Have Earned Your All-Star Vote?

What Braves Have Earned Your All-Star Vote?

All-Star voting begins tomorrow at noon and I’m oddly a little excited about it. I haven’t voted for the All-Star Game in a few years and don’t really get much enjoyment out of it or the other festivities. Yeah, I may love the long ball, but I get bored watching the home run derby.

But in 2018, something is happening. The Atlanta Braves are exciting and deserve to be represented in the All-Star Game as a result. How you vote for the All-Star Game is your business, but to me, I want to put the players there that have earned it rather than stuff the voting with players because they’re on my team. Hey Chicago Cubs fans, Javier Baez is maybe the fifth-most deserving candidate for second base. And St. Louis Cardinals fans, Yadier Molina is hurt and even before that, wasn’t really in the race.

I don’t think I’ll convince anyone to not post a ballot based entirely on their own homerism, but it’s worth a try.

Braves fans, if you are like me and want to see the players who most deserve it go rather than the players you like the most, here is a position-by-position look at the Braves’ choices.

Catcher – Kurt Suzuki
Chances – Not happening

Earlier this season, Suzuki was on fire but has significantly cooled down. There are much worse choices than Suzuki – Jorge Alfaro, Tucker Barnhart, and YADIER MOLINA – but there are also a handful of better options. Especially when you consider Suzuki’s at-bats will decrease with Tyler Flowers back and rolling. While Cubs fans will prop up Wilson Contreras, your vote should come down between Francisco Cervelli and J.T. Realmuto. The latter missed the beginning of the year, but has been on fire since and from a wOBA standpoint, he is the only other catcher challenging Cervelli. The Pirates catcher, by the way, has been quietly on fire with a wOBA near .400 and his usual tremendous defense.

First Base – Freddie Freeman
Chances – No-brainer

With Joey Votto fading while Freeman has surged, this is currently a two-player race between Brandon Belt and Freeman. Yeah, don’t sleep on Belt, guys. He’s right there in every category and Giants fans can make a legit argument that he deserves it over Freeman if the All-Star Game was played today. But you can’t really go wrong with either choice so why not go with Freeman? He does have better on-base numbers after all.

Second Base – Ozzie Albies
Chances – Very, very good

Here’s where the vote could screw a player. Say Cubs fans do vote in Baez, who has a love/hate relationship with a .300 OBP. There are about four really deserving candidates here and Baez isn’t one of them. At least one of the four was already going to miss the All-Star Game. Now another could be out so that Baez can start. Hopefully, it doesn’t come to that.

As for Albies, you can feel good about your vote for him. But you could also vote for Asdrubal Cabrera, Scooter Gennett, and Cesar Hernandez and also feel good. Gennett likely deserves the start right now, but again, this group of four are very close. The only thing holding Albies back is a poor OBP.

Shortstop – Dansby Swanson
Chances – About the same of me marrying Anna Kendrick

Swanson has had a decent bounce-back campaign, though his numbers have tanked a lot since earlier this year. But he’s not in the argument here for a spot. Amazingly, Cardinals fans have all the reasons in the world to vote for Paul DeJong and so do you. He actually deserves votes. As do Trea Turner and Brandon Crawford. Swanson…not so much.

Third Base – Johan Camargo
Chances % = His Amount of Steals

Camargo is having a really strange season. He has as many walks as hits and is smacking the ball hard all over the place. It’s a very strange version of the player we saw in 2017. Which looked nothing like the guy who played in 2016. Guys, Camargo is re-inventing himself every year. Next year, he’ll be a pitcher. You don’t know!

Also, he won’t be an All-Star this year. Kris Bryant or Nolan Arenado…pick one. Eugenio Suarez is a darkhorse because he missed a bit of time.

Outfield – Nick Markakis, Ronald Acuña Jr., Ender Inciarte
Chances = Amazingly yes, not yet, and nope

Nick Markakis, barring a return to 2013-17 Markakis, will be an All-Star for the first time. He’s yet to slow down even a small bit. If the All-Star Game was held tomorrow, he deserves to be in the starting lineup. That’s how insane his season has been to this point. Even his biggest fanboys are shocked by his level of success to this point.

Acuña Jr. wasn’t producing at an All-Star level before his injury. It’s possible he goes on a tear and rides that momentum into a spot, but there are plenty of worthy selections. As for Inciarte, huge triple on Tuesday, but with his offensive limitations, he needs to produce at his usual 100 wRC+ type level to have a chance and hope his other counting numbers impress. That’s not happening.

As for who should join Markakis, A.J. Pollock is not back just yet but should earn your vote. Odubel Herrera is annoying to watch as a Braves fan, but he’s a solid pick to join Pollock and Markakis. Also consider Lorenzo Cain, Tommy Pham, Bryce Harper, and even Brandon Nimmo. The latter doesn’t have the at-bats but is killing it. Especially against right-hand pitching. Which is why you probably shouldn’t leave in a right-hand pitcher to face him. Yeah, I’m looking at you, Brian Snitker.

Pitchers
In: Dan Winkler (maybe)
Out: Everyone else

Now, I know we don’t vote for the pitchers, but it seems weird not to mention them.

I love Sean Newcomb, but the competition here is steep. Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom, Aaron Nola, Patrick Corbin, Miles Mikolas, Gio Gonzalez, and even Jake Arrieta are all in the driver’s seat. If healthy, Noah Syndergaard seems like a good pick as well. Of the Atlanta Braves’ rotation, Newcomb has pitched the best – along with Mike Foltynewicz – but neither are rubbing elbows with the league’s best just yet.

Now, in the pen, Winkler could be an option. His ERA remains under 1.00, his FIP isn’t far behind, and he’s just outside the Top 5 among NL relievers in fWAR. Shane Carle was there, but his recent appearances have pushed him out of the mix. Though, it’s tough to see it happening with Josh Hader, Sean Doolittle, and Jeremy Jeffress doing their thing. But Winkler is definitely in the discussion and would be a tremendous story for MLB to pimp of resilience.

Of course, things can change between now and when All-Star voting gets closer to closing. Albies might start bashing around the ball again or Newcomb could reach a new level, pushing both into the no-brainer category. But as things stand right now, I see Freeman and Markakis as easy yes votes with Albies as worthy as any other second baseman of your vote. The rest is straight homerism if you vote for them.

Which is fine. It can be a popularity contest, I suppose.

6 Comments

Freddie and Albies are pretty much locks to get in. While Marakis is having a very good year (especially when compared to his first 3 years in a Braves uniform)….it remains to be seen if Markakis can keep up those numbers during the next 6 weeks (when The ASB comes).

Winkler would only get in if he continues to be lights out (he’s not a closer, so it’s going to be tough for him to get in without saves).

If Newcomb and Folty both keep up their current pace…I see no reason why either isnt considered for an All-Star selection. Both are striking out more than a batter an inning…both are giving up less than a hit an inning..both have ERAs under 3.

Big win by The Braves tonight. Newcomb is simply having A FANTASTIC YEAR so far. He’s ‘getting it’ (you know, going after hitters, trusting his GREAT STUFF)! I was proud of the fact that despite throwing 23 pitches in the 1st inning tonight (walking the 1st 2 hitters of the game)…Newcomb made it through 7 innings on 93 total pitches (only needing 70 pitches to make it through his final 6 innings). Newcomb settled down and helped give The Braves offense time to score just enough runs to win the game.

Pitching that 7th inning tonight…gave The Braves an opportunity to ONLY use 2 bullpen pieces tonight (Vizcaino only needed 12 pitches to get the save). Winkler is simply UNHITTABLE right now. Vizcaino threw some serious gas tonight. If Folty can deliver a similar performance tomorrow…I like The Braves chances. I would hold off on using Winkler tomorrow (he needed 22 pitches get a 1-2-3 inning, Rendon fouled off a number of pitches..so did Harper).

Unless Folty can throw a complete game tomorrow….The Braves will probably need Carle and Minter to step up and get critical outs in the 7th and 8th innings tomorrow (assuming that The Braves can get the lead on Strasberg by the 7th inning). Also, Vizcaino may be called upon to get a save on back-to-back nights (where he probably wont be throwing quite as hard as he did tonight)!

To be honest, I’m not very sold on either Moylan or Freeman being able to get critical outs WITHOUT giving up runs right now. Perhaps this will give Biddle an opportunity to step up and show that he’s able to get outs without giving up runs in critical situations.

Either Teheran, Newcomb and Folty need to continue stepping up and starting CONSISTENTLY throwing 7 innings PLUS a night (you know, complete games ‘are legal’, lol. I’d like to see some of our talented arms BUCKLE DOWN and quit wasting pitches. When you get an 0-2, 1-2 count on a hitter….GET HIS ASS OUT!). Newcomb only got 2 strikeouts tonight…NOT because his stuff ‘wasnt good’ (it was). It was because he went after hitters (after that 1st inning)..getting them to swing ‘at his pitches’….which resulted in a number of ‘under 10 pitch innings’ (which do more to keep pitch counts down..than anything).

Scherzer is SO VALUABLE to The Nationals…NOT JUST because he’s a great pitcher..BUT ALSO because he pitches DEEP into games. Here’s a look at the number of innings he’s pitched in his last 4 starts: 8, 6, 7 and 7 (none of his starts this year have been less than 6 innings). Having Max Scherzer on Washington’s staff….helps save their bullpen! Dude NEVER has a meltdown, has to come out after only 2 1/3 or 3 innings, on occasion! As great as Newcomb has pitched in 2018..he did have to come out after 3 innings against Boston on Saturday..because it took him 90 pitches to labor through 3 innings! That kind of start really taxes a bullpen!

I’d like to see how Soroka’s rehab start goes tomorrow. Hopefully he’ll only need one such start (and not 3 or 4 of them). I really do not want to see Sanchez making 3-4 more starts. He’s better suited to being a long relief/multi-inning specialist. Once Soroka gets settled in…(and hopefully Gohara comes back soon…like it or not, the world DOES NOT stop spinning…just because one’s loved ones are having a tough time. Gohara is going to have to develop that mental toughness to put that pain away somewhere where it doesnt distract him….because his arm, if he devotes his time to perfecting his craft, will allow him to eventually secure a contract that will set his family up for life)….The Braves may be able to find a suitor for McCarthy (who is painful to watch, at times).

All 7 hits were by the top 5 hitters in the lineup. Dansby had some UGLY at-bats tonight. Other than his game winning hit against The Marlins almost 2 weeks ago…he’s pretty much stunk up the place while hitting. His batting average is steadily dropping since his return from The DL (he’s 8 for 40 since his return…with 5 walks and 19 strikeouts, almost striking out in half of his at-bats!). If Swanson’s average keeps dropping come mid-July…I’d like to see Austin Riley called up to play 3rd…and Carmago inserted as the starting Short Stop (perhaps Swanson needs another demotion to The Minors to get his swing straighten out)!

My NL votes went to…

C Francisco Cervelli
1B Freddie Freeman
2B Ozzie Albies
SS Brandon Crawford
3B Nolan Arrenado
OF Starling Marte
OF Lorenzo Cain
OF AJ Pollock

The NL outfield mix isn’t very strong this year, but I still couldn’t vote for Nick over Marte, Cain or Pollock. He probably should be a reserve, though. I feel like Harper’s going to go over someone, however, based on name value.

I’m a homer so all braves deserve to get in—more important to me is ender n dansby—I don’t need them to be all star level…. but they need to step up a bit—-to me dansby n ender make this go if they are doing well. Esp if they are 1
And 8 in the lineup. Please start rounding into form consistently guys the braves need it.

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