Yes, the 2017 baseball season is only one month old. But I suppose it’s never too early to start voting for All Stars?
Wait, maybe it is.
Major League Baseball has released their online All Star ballots with more than two months to go before the Mid-Summer classic on July 11. And while waiting another 2-3 weeks wouldn’t have been a bad idea, considering we’re just now starting to emerge from the wilderness of small sample sizes, it’s out there, and people are starting to vote.
So here’s a very preliminary look at which Phillies players could be in line to play the All Star Game in Miami.
At the moment, second baseman Cesar Hernandez appears to be the most logical candidate to make the squad.
That’s as close to a lock as you can get, although probably in a reserve role.
WORTHY, FOR NOW:
Among those in the starting rotation, Jeremy Hellickson is probably the best choice at the moment, thanks to a 1.80 ERA that is 4th-lowest in the National League and a WHIP of 0.80 that is 2nd-lowest. Of course, that 9.6% strikeout-rate could inflate that ERA in upcoming starts, but for now, he’s probably the most optimal option among the starters.
PRETTY GOOD, BUT LONGSHOTS:
Odubel Herrera was last year’s All-Star representative and he’s off to another decent start, hitting .270/.343/.416 with three homers. But his wOBA of .326 and wRC+ of 100 isn’t terribly special, and he’s tied for 12th among qualified NL outfielders in fWAR (0.5). There’s some work to do there.
Aaron Altherr has begun to play every day and, if he keeps this up, could jump up a category in the next month or two. In only 53 PAs he has matched Herrera’s fWAR (0.5) and is batting a robust .313/.377/.563 with a wOBA of .400 and a wRC+ of 147. He’s been terrific, and will merit consideration if he can maintain his playing time and production.
Don’t look now, but Freddy Galvis is surprisingly tied for 3rd among qualified NL shortstops in fWAR (0.6), and batting .273/.301/.500 this season, all while playing terrific defense once again. The NL shortstop position is not strong this year.
The rotation features another hurler who, if he can get some run support and lower his ERA just a little, could be considered. Jerad Eickhoff has an ERA of 3.56 but is getting just 1.5 runs of support per start this season, leaving him winless in five outings. He’s striking out 21.9% of batters, up from 20.6% last year, but has seen his walk-rate jump a bit too, from 5.2% last year to 8.6% in 2017.
NOT GONNA HAPPEN:
Maikel Franco is 30th in baseball in exit velocity (91.9 mph), according to StatCast, his strikeout rate is down and his walk rate is up. Those are all great things, but he is still batting .207/.279/.370 with four homers, a wOBA of .283 and a wRC+ of 72. His 0.0 fWAR is 10th among 13 qualified NL third basemen.
No matter how much bad luck he’s had, that’s just not going to get him on the team.
Tommy Joseph hit a big home run in Monday night’s win against the Cubs...
...but he’s still last among 14 qualified first basemen in fWAR (-0.5), batting .183/.234/.296 this season. And among NL catchers with at least 60 PAs, Cameron Rupp’s fWAR of 0.1 is 10th out of 11 players.
Michael Saunders and Howie Kendrick haven’t made much of an impact yet with the Phillies, but like we mentioned above, we’re only one month into the season.
As for the rest of the rotation, Vince Velasquez hasn’t done enough yet to warrant serious consideration, although that could all change if he starts to pitch more than, you know, five innings every time out. And Zach Eflin, Aaron Nola and Nick Pivetta are going to have to do some special things over their next eight starts to make the squad.
And while perhaps the bullpen hasn’t been as bad as it appears, no one has set themselves apart as being one of the better relief pitchers in the National League this season.
The voting for the All-Star Game ends on June 29.