Who We Think Should Start the All-Star Game

The Just Baseball staff makes our picks for the NL and AL All-Star starters.

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 08: Gunnar Henderson #2 of the Baltimore Orioles hits a home run in the sixth inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on May 08, 2024 in Washington, DC. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)

As hard as it is to believe, the 2024 MLB season is almost halfway over. Nearly 50% of regular season games have been played, and that means it’s time to start thinking about the ceremonial halfway point of the season, too. The All-Star Game is fast approaching.

The 2024 MLB All-Star Game will take place on July 16 at Globe Life Field in Arlington, home of the Texas Rangers.

The first phase of fan voting to select the All-Star starters began on June 5 and will run through June 27 at noon ET. The leading vote-getter in each league and the finalists at every position will be announced at 6:00 pm ET that evening on MLB Network.

After that, a second phase of voting will open at noon ET on June 30 and run until noon ET on July 3. The starting lineups will be announced at 7:00 pm ET that night, and the rest of the rosters will be announced on July 7 at 5:30 pm ET. Both announcements will air on ESPN.

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If you’re looking for advice on how to cast your ballot, or you’re simply starved for All-Star Game discourse in the weeks leading up to the Midsummer Classic, here are the players the Just Baseball staff thinks deserve to make the starting lineups in each league.

National League

Catcher: William Contreras (MIL)

Also receiving votes: Will Smith (LAD)

William Contreras leads all NL catchers in hits (90), doubles (17), walks (28), runs (54), RBI (49), and defensive innings (542.2), making the 26-year-old a perfectly deserving candidate to represent the National League behind the dish at the All-Star Game.

That being said, this race should probably be much closer than it is – Contreras received all but two votes from our staff participants.

The Brewers’ backstop paved his way to the All-Star Game with a dominant performance over the first seven weeks of the season. However, since May 19, Contreras has a 51 wRC+ in 30 games. Will Smith, on the other hand, has been consistently excellent all season.

Over the past five weeks, the Dodgers’ catcher has overtaken his fellow backstop in home runs, wRC+, and FanGraphs WAR. He also has much better defensive numbers, given Contreras’s surprisingly poor framing stats and Smith’s league-leading 18 caught stealing.

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Ultimately, either Contreras or Smith would be a fine choice to start the All-Star Game. Each has made one All-Star team in the past, although neither has been elected by the fans to join the starting lineup.

First Base: Bryce Harper (PHI)

Also receiving votes: Freddie Freeman (LAD), Pete Alonso (NYM)

The NL has plenty of great first basemen this season, but the choice here wasn’t difficult. Bryce Harper leads the pack in home runs (18), RBI (51), OPS (.955), xwOBA (.382), wRC+ (163), and fWAR (3.5). He has also adjusted well in his first year as a full-time first baseman, with 6 OAA and 3 DRS at his new position.

Future Hall of Famer Freddie Freeman is still at the top of his game, two-time Gold Glover Christian Walker is putting up the best offensive numbers of his career, and Pete Alonso could be the hottest commodity on the market at the trade deadline. Still, Harper is in a class of his own right now.

Second Base: Ketel Marte (ARI)

Also receiving votes: Brice Turang (MIL), Luis Arraez (SDP)

Fresh off a phenomenal performance in the 2023 postseason, Ketel Marte looks like the version of himself that finished fourth in NL MVP voting back in 2019. The veteran leads qualified NL second basemen in wOBA (.355), xwOBA (.369), wRC+ (130), and fWAR (3.1).

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Not only are his offensive numbers stellar across the board, but Marte is also putting up the best defensive metrics of his career. He leads the way with 9 OAA at the keystone, and no NL second baseman even comes close to his 12 DRS.

Brice Turang is having a phenomenal breakout season, and Luis Arraez continues to be the best contact hitter in the sport. Yet, it’s impossible to argue with Marte’s overall numbers.

Third Base: Alec Bohm (PHI)

Also receiving votes: Joey Ortiz (MIL)

When MLB released the first All-Star Game voting update last week, no player had a bigger lead at his position than Phillies third baseman Alec Bohm. That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, considering he leads the best team in the NL in RBI (61) and Win Probability Added (2.01). His .301 batting average and .847 OPS are certainly befitting of an All-Star starter.

And yet, rookie sensation Joey Ortiz has a slight edge over Bohm in wOBA and wRC+. Moreover, while the two are quite evenly matched when it comes to offensive stats, Ortiz is also a Gold Glove-caliber defender. Bohm has worked hard to become a serviceable third baseman, but he isn’t exactly helping his team win ballgames with his glovework.

As is the case with Contreras and Smith, either one of Bohm or Ortiz would make a good choice to start the All-Star Game. The numbers slightly prefer Ortiz, but Bohm has the narrative (and an early-season hot streak) in his favor.

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Shortstop: Mookie Betts (LAD)

Also receiving votes: Trea Turner (PHI), Francisco Lindor (NYM), Elly De La Cruz (CIN), Willy Adames (MIL), CJ Abrams (WSN), Ezequiel Tovar (COL)

Mookie Betts hitter power rankings
LOS ANGELES, CA – APRIL 15: Mookie Betts #50 of the Los Angeles Dodgers bats in the fifth inning during the game between the Washington Nationals and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on Monday, April 15, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Owens/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Not so surprisingly, this was the closest vote on our staff ballot. The injured Mookie Betts earned more support than any other candidate, although several voters wrote in their second choice as well.

Betts won’t be available to play in the All-Star Game after breaking his wrist on a hit-by-pitch, but he certainly still deserves the honor. Through his first 72 games, he put up 10 home runs, 40 RBI, nine stolen bases, and a .304/.405/.488 slash line with a 158 wRC+, all while playing shortstop for the first full season in his MLB career.

Elly De La Cruz, Francisco Lindor, and Trea Turner were all named on three staff members’ ballots, and any of those three would make a worthy replacement for Betts in the National League’s starting lineup.

De La Cruz and Lindor are both all-around talents; the Reds’ shortstop is living up to his top prospect billing after an up-and-down rookie season, while the Mets’ superstar is back at the top of his game after a slow start to the 2024 campaign. Lindor is angling for his fifth All-Star appearance, while De La Cruz is aiming for his first.

Turner spent six weeks on the IL from early May to mid-June, but his eye-popping offensive numbers (140 wRC+) are enough to keep him in the conversation despite his limited playing time.

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Outfield: Jurickson Profar (SDP), Teoscar Hernández (LAD), Fernando Tatis Jr. (SDP)

Also receiving votes: Christian Yelich (MIL), Heliot Ramos (SFG), Brandon Nimmo (NYM)

Jurickson Profar continues to amaze. As Padres fans keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, Profar has been one of the most productive players in the game all year long. There is no doubt that the former top prospect will finally make his first All-Star Game in his age-31 season.

He currently leads the NL with a .413 on-base percentage and ranks among the top five in batting average (.319) and wRC+ (161). Profar was the only NL outfielder named on all of our staff ballots.

Likely joining him in the outfield will be his teammate Fernando Tatis Jr. Tatis isn’t putting up the same jaw-dropping defense metrics that he did last season, but his offensive numbers are back up with the best of them. The 25-year-old ranks seventh among qualified NL hitters with a 139 wRC+.

The race for the final spot was close between Teoscar Hernández and Christian Yelich, but Hernández won out, presumably because he has so much more playing time. Yelich has excellent offensive numbers (149 wRC+), but a lengthy stint on the IL will hurt his All-Star chances.

Meanwhile, a resurgent Hernández has played in all 79 of the Dodgers’ games this year. He leads NL outfielders with 18 home runs and 54 RBI.

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Heliot Ramos also deserves a special shout-out for his 1.9 fWAR in just 41 games this season. If he had enough plate appearances to qualify, he’d rank fourth in the NL with a .522 slugging percentage and seventh with a 152 wRC+.

DH: Shohei Ohtani (LAD)

Also receiving votes: Marcell Ozuna (ATL)

This one was another landslide, with two-time MVP Shohei Ohtani receiving all but two of the votes.

Marcell Ozuna has been one of the best hitters in baseball all season (174 wRC+), but Ohtani has him beat in almost every statistical category. The greatest player on the planet leads the NL in home runs (23), runs scored (61), batting average (.321), slugging percentage (.632), wRC+ (188), and fWAR (4.2). If that weren’t impressive enough, he has 16 stolen bases in 18 attempts.

Ohtani is the clear frontrunner for the NL MVP, and he should easily earn his fourth consecutive All-Star selection.

American League

Catcher: Adley Rutschman (BAL)

Also receiving votes: Salvador Perez (KCR), Connor Wong (BOS), Martín Maldonado (CHW)

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Adley Rutschman is continuing to prove why he’s the best catcher in baseball in his third major league season.

Salvador Perez has earned plenty of attention for his strong offensive numbers in his age-34 campaign, while Connor Wong is turning heads with a breakout performance at the plate. However, when it comes to catchers in the American League, no one can touch Adley.

Rutschman leads AL catchers in runs (41) and RBI (53), and he is tied for the lead with 14 home runs. Meanwhile, the only catcher who has him beat in batting average, slugging percentage, or wRC+ is Wong, who has taken 106 fewer plate appearances. Rutschman ranks first among AL catchers with 2.8 fWAR; no one else has even reached 2.0.

No comment on the one staffer who voted for Martín Maldonado.

First Base: Josh Naylor (CLE)

Also receiving votes: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (TOR), Ryan Mountcastle (BAL)

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Ryan Mountcastle got a lot more love on the first MLB All-Star voting update, but our staff thinks Josh Naylor deserves the All-Star nod instead.

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Naylor leads AL first basemen with 20 home runs – that’s as many as Guerrero and Mountcastle combined. He also leads in runs (43), RBI (58), and slugging percentage (.511), as well as wOBA (.352), wRC+ (132), and FanGraphs WAR (1.5).

The AL doesn’t have a standout superstar at first base this year, but Naylor has been the best of the bunch.

Second Base: Jose Altuve (HOU)

Also receiving votes: Marcus Semien (TEX), Andrés Giménez (CLE), Davis Schneider (TOR)

This one was close, but Jose Altuve came out just ahead of Marcus Semien in our staff poll. Neither is hitting as well as he did last season, but Altuve still leads primary AL second basemen with a 131 wRC+, and Semien is making up for his average bat with absolutely stellar defense (11 OAA, 10 DRS).

Ultimately, a few more of our staff members preferred Altuve, but you really can’t go wrong with either of these second base studs. The fans seem to agree; as of the first voting update, this was one of the closest races in either league. It’s going to come down to how they each perform over the next handful of games.

Third Base: José Ramírez (CLE)

Also receiving votes: Rafael Devers (BOS)

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Five-time All-Star José Ramírez was the clear winner of our staff poll, just like he was the clear frontrunner on the first MLB voting update. He leads primary AL third basemen in home runs (19), runs scored (58), RBI (67), and fWAR (2.7).

As great as Ramírez has been, however, it’s a little surprising this isn’t a closer race. Third base is a stacked position in the AL right now, with Rafael Devers (140 wRC+, 2.1 fWAR), Jordan Westburg (139 wRC+, 2.5 fWAR), Isaac Paredes (139 wRC+, 2.2 fWAR), and Josh Smith (148 wRC+, 2.5 fWAR) all putting up similarly excellent numbers.

Ramírez is the best all-around player and the most famous name, but I wouldn’t be mad if any of those five guys got the start for the AL in the All-Star Game.

Shortstop: Gunnar Henderson (BAL)

Also receiving votes: Bobby Witt Jr. (KCR), Anthony Volpe (NYY)

It’s a real shame that only one player gets to start at shortstop, because Gunnar Henderson and Bobby Witt Jr. have been two of the best players in the league over the first three months of the season.

That said, Henderson has pulled ahead in June, putting up monster offensive numbers that might just win him the AL MVP. The 22-year-old ranks first in all of MLB with 5.4 fWAR, thanks to his 24 home runs, 174 wRC+, 13 steals, and stellar defense at shortstop. He has been, arguably, the best all-around player in the sport this year.

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Outfield: Aaron Judge (NYY), Juan Soto (NYY), Kyle Tucker (HOU)

Also receiving votes: Steven Kwan (CLE), Anthony Santander (BAL), Jarren Duran (BOS)

It seems all but certain that one of Aaron Judge or Juan Soto will finish phase one of All-Star voting as the AL’s leading vote-getter, automatically earning a spot in the All-Star starting lineup. Our staff agrees that these two deserve the honor; they were both named on every ballot. The Yankees’ sluggers are the top two hitters in the American League by OPS, wOBA, xwOBA, and wRC+.

Kyle Tucker hasn’t played in three weeks, but he still ranks third among qualified AL outfielders in OPS (.979) and wRC+ (175). I wouldn’t be surprised if a red-hot Steven Kwan catches up to Tucker in the next voting update, but as things stand right now, Tucker is a deserving choice.

Jarren Duran likely doesn’t have enough name recognition to earn a spot in the starting lineup, but he has quietly been a deserving candidate as well. He ranks fourth among AL outfielders in fWAR thanks to his strong all-around numbers: 120 wRC+, 20 stolen bases, and 6 OAA.

DH: Yordan Alvarez (HOU)

Also receiving votes: David Fry (CLE), Brent Rooker (OAK), Ryan O’Hearn (BAL)

Two-time All-Star Yordan Alvarez just beat out-of-nowhere sensation David Fry on our staff ballot. While Fry has the edge in all three triple slash categories, Alvarez has played 20 more games and holds a comfortable lead in home runs, runs, and RBI. What’s more, Fry has only played 12 of his 55 games this year at DH.

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All things considered, Fry is the more interesting candidate, but it’s hard to argue against the sheer dominance of Alvarez. Even in a “down year” he has a 145 wRC+, and he’s on pace for new career-highs in plate appearances and games played.