Six Shortstops Who Can Replace Mookie Betts in the All-Star Game

Mookie Betts is set to miss the 2024 MLB All-Star Game, but there are multiple NL shortstops that would be suitable replacements for him.

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - MAY 10: Elly De La Cruz #44 of the Cincinnati Reds is congratulated by teammates after he scored against the San Francisco Giants in the top of the third inning at Oracle Park on May 10, 2024 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

After Mookie Betts suffered a fractured hand on June 16, the six-to-eight-week timetable for his recovery brought forth a lot of questions.

What would the Los Angeles Dodgers do in his immediate absence? Would a move for a shortstop ahead of the trade deadline make sense? Will his hand be healed enough to handle work at short upon his return?

But putting the Dodgers’ questions aside, a whole new series of questions come into play regarding the timing of Betts’ injury and the July 16 MLB All-Star Game.

His injury came exactly one month before this year’s Midsummer Classic, meaning with that six-to-eight-week timetable, there’s essentially no chance Betts will be eligible to participate in the game.

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But, Betts was still leading the first phase of the All-Star fan vote to be the NL’s starting shortstop according to the latest voting update. Phase one closed on June 27 at 12 p.m. ET.

So, if this continues and Betts wins the second phase of voting as well, he will be selected to start the All-Star Game. This opens the door for other All-Star-caliber shortstops in the National League to get into the game, or even start.

Here are six players that could replace Betts as the NL’s starting shortstop.

All statistics in this article were taken prior to games on June 27.

Elly De La Cruz, Cincinnati Reds

Elly De La Cruz, the cornerstone of the Cincinnati Reds franchise, has been exceptional in his sophomore season.

De La Cruz currently finds himself atop the NL shortstop leaderboard in FanGraphs WAR with 3.5.

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That raw power we’ve heard about since he was in the minor leagues has been on display in 2024, as his 14 home runs currently lead all NL shortstops.

And we certainly can’t forget the blistering speed that De La Cruz is best known for, as his 37 stolen bases lead the major leagues. It’s not particularly close, either, as he sits 10 swipes ahead of Milwaukee Brewers’ infielder Brice Turang, who ranks second.

Another interesting argument for De La Cruz is how well he’s played on both sides of the ball.

He sits second among NL shortstops in FanGraphs’ offensive rating (Off) this season, with a 14.0, only trailing the injured Betts. From a defensive standpoint (Def), he ranks fourth, posting a 7.8.

And De La Cruz is the only player at the NL shortstop position to post a positive defensive rating while also posting an offensive rating above 10.0.

Trea Turner, Philadelphia Phillies

Trea Turner has missed 39 of the Philadelphia Phillies’ 80 games this season, which would be enough for a lot of guys to miss out on the All-Star Game.

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But as it stands on June 27, Phillies fans have rallied behind their shortstop. Despite the injury, Turner still sat second in voting for NL shortstops as of the latest update. The top two vote-getters will move on to the final phase of voting starting June 30.

Given the fact that Turner is healthy now and receiving strong fan support, it’s not out of the question that if it’s between Betts and Tuner in the final phase of voting, fans could opt to vote for the healthy shortstop, which would ultimately see him start on July 16, despite missing half of the season so far.

It’s not as if Turner has performed poorly in his time on the field. In fact, it’s been the exact opposite.

Among NL shortstops with at least 100 plate appearances this season, Turner ranks first in batting average at .327.

His 136 wRC+ and .379 OBP both rank second, only trailing Betts.

Another argument for Turner is the 1.6 fWAR he’s accumulated through just 40 games this year.

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De La Cruz leads NL shortstops in fWAR this season at 3.5 in 79 games, nearly double the amount of games Turner has played. So, if you were to assume Turner stays on the same trajectory, by the time he reaches the 79-game mark, he would be at 3.2 fWAR. That would be good enough for third amongst NL shortstops as it currently stands.

Francisco Lindor, New York Mets

Another NL shortstop with significant league-wide recognition who is having a great season in 2024 is Francisco Lindor.

His 3.2 fWAR currently ranks third among NL shortstops. This makes the Mets superstar one of only three shortstops in the NL with an fWAR over 3.0.

What has held Lindor back from more consideration was his poor start to the season, as he entered May with a slash line that sat at just .197/.280/.359.

But, Lindor has been on the rise since, bringing his slash line up to .246/.313/.442.

He has the recency argument on his side, as he’s been one of the hottest NL shortstops heading into July. In the month of June alone, he is slashing .291/.354/.547.

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And since May 1, no qualified NL shortstop has come particularly close to Lindor’s output. His 2.5 fWAR is 0.8 wins higher than the second best shortstop, while his 135 wRC+ also ranks first, 21 points higher than the next best qualifier.

Lindor has also been solid on both sides of the ball in 2024, ranking among the top five NL shortstops with an offensive rating of 9.0 (fifth) and a defensive rating of 9.5 (first).

Willy Adames, Milwaukee Brewers

Willy Adames has gone about his business and been one of the best shortstops in the National League this season.

He currently leads NL shortstops in RBIs with 54, 14 ahead of Betts and CJ Abrams, who are tied for second.

He also sits tied for second among NL shortstops in home runs, alongside Lindor, with 13, just one behind De La Cruz.

And Adames has been an all-round force this season, posting a 2.8 fWAR, good for fourth among NL shortstops. He’s also put up an offensive rating of 7.2 and the third-best defensive rating at 8.0.

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Ezequiel Tovar, Colorado Rockies

The Colorado Rockies are one of the worst teams in baseball so far in 2024. But they certainly have some bright spots – and none brighter than Ezequiel Tovar.

The young shortstop has been excellent so far in his second full season in the majors.

His .287 batting average is fourth among NL shortstops with at least 150 plate appearances this season. So is his .483 slugging percentage.

And Tovar has showcased his all-round talent at the shortstop position in 2024.

His 2.5 fWAR places him in the top five among NL shortstops. Defensively, he ranks second in Def at 7.7, only trailing Lindor.

CJ Abrams, Washington Nationals

The Washington Nationals find themselves in postseason contention here in late June, as they sit just 3.5 games out of an NL Wild Card spot.

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A big reason for this has been the steady play from one of the pillars of their future, shortstop CJ Abrams.

Abrams is having a career year at the plate in 2024.

Among NL shortstops with at least 100 plate appearances, he’s one of just six to sport a batting average above .280, as he’s hit at a .283 clip in 317 plate appearances.

He’s also the positional leader in the NL in slugging percentage, with a .507 mark.

And his 131 wRC+ ranks fourth amongst NL shortstops.

And adding to his offensive achievements so far in 2024, Abrams is one of just three NL shortstops with 10-plus home runs and 40-plus RBIs, alongside Betts and Adames.

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And he is just one of three NL shortstops to post an offensive rating higher than 10.0, alongside Betts and De La Cruz.

Who Most Deserves To Start in the All-Star Game?

These six players all have an intriguing case to start in this year’s All-Star Game, but only a few have a legitimate chance to replace Betts.

The question may be open and shut if Trea Turner wins the second phase of fan voting. But, if Betts manages to keep his top spot amongst the fans, I can’t see Turner being selected to participate at all this year, let alone start, given the significant time he’s missed with injury.

I think Tovar and Abrams will be selected as All-Stars considering they are the best options on two teams with weaker rosters, and every team needs at least one player to represent them. But I don’t feel their resumes are as strong as the other three remaining options to start.

This means it comes down to De La Cruz, Lindor and Adames.

If it were up to me, I’d give the nod to De La Cruz to be Betts’ replacement.

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His leading fWAR among NL shortstops and the ability he’s shown to play both sides of the ball so well this season, all paired with the fact he’s got that league-wide, human highlight reel recognition, makes him the perfect candidate to replace the former MVP.

This isn’t meant to diminish what Lindor and Adames have done though, as both make legitimate arguments to start on July 16 in Texas.

But at the end of the day, De La Cruz just ranks higher than both of them in too many major statistical categories, like fWAR, wRC+, batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, making him the most deserving replacement to start for the NL at short.