After more than three months of nonstop baseball, the 2023 MLB season has finally reached its halfway point. As is tradition, the best players this year are given an All-Star nod and the honor of playing in the All-Star Game this year at T-Mobile Park in Seattle. Despite some notable snubs, a majority of the players were deservedly selected to participate.
In the American League, one look at the lineup will tell you exactly which teams are atop the standings. Six of the nine starters belong to either the Tampa Bay Rays or the Texas Rangers. The other three players are generational talents: 11-time All-Star Mike Trout, AL home run king Aaron Judge and top AL vote-getter Shohei Ohtani.
The Rangers occupy every infield position besides first base, where the Rays’ Yandy Díaz stands. Catcher Jonah Heim, second baseman Marcus Semien and third baseman Josh Jung are all valid choices, while shortstop Corey Seager’s selection is only in question due to his lack of at-bats, not his fiery batting.
Díaz and outfielder Randy Arozarena are the two position players for the Rays. However, it is arguable that shortstop Wander Franco should have made the All-Star Team at least as a reserve — especially when one of the reserves who did make it was Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Whit Merrifield, whose OPS is over .100 below Franco’s.
The AL pitcher selections are solid for the most part — seven of the top eight AL starting pitchers in ERA were rightfully selected. However, the relievers are where some issues arise.
Yennier Cano and Félix Bautista from the Baltimore Orioles are great choices, but the omission of Los Angeles Angels’ closer, Carlos Estévez, is notable. Estévez, who has converted all 21 of his save opportunities, got snubbed in favor of Kenley Jansen, whose 3.45 ERA ended up being good enough to be the Red Sox’s representative, and the Guardians’ Emmanuel Clase, who has 7 blown saves and has a 3.40 ERA.
Just as the Rays and Rangers filled out much of the AL’s team, the top dog in the National League is clear with one look at the NL roster. The Atlanta Braves have eight total All-Stars, the most in franchise history and tied for the most in NL history for one team.
Led by the NL MVP favorite and highest vote-getter in the MLB, Ronald Acuña Jr., the best catcher in baseball this year, Sean Murphy and the pitcher with the second-lowest ERA in the MLB Bryce Elder, the Braves truly flex their muscles in the All-Star roster, fitting for their recent takeover as the top team in the MLB.
Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Corbin Carroll and his sensational rookie year are rightfully honored, while Luiz Arráez of the Miami Marlins has his batting average of nearly .400 rewarded with an All-Star nod.
The only possible snub for the NL starters is at shortstop, where the selection of Braves’ Orlando Arcia was contentious for Cubs and Mets fans trying to rally for Dansby Swanson and Francisco Lindor, respectively.
As opposed to the AL’s by-the-books choice of starting pitchers, the NL rotation is rockier. The top four in NL ERA are accounted for, including Clayton Kershaw earning his 10th All-Star selection. However, Braves’ Spencer Strider, who is 15th in ERA in the NL, raises some eyebrows along with the absence of Padres’ duo Blake Snell and Michael Wacha.
Thankfully, the voters did not make a mistake choosing the NL relievers, highlighted by the Reds’ Alexis Diaz and the Padres’ Josh Hader. Diaz and Hader have been two of the best closers in the MLB this season.
With the finalization of All-Star rosters, the scene is set in Seattle. The MLB All-Star break is a time of rest and deserved celebration for the players and festivities for the fans — no matter who trots onto that field.