MLB

ESPN’s 2022 AL and NL All-Star picks

ESPN’s 2022 AL and NL All-Star picks
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In advance of the first 2022 MLB All-Star selection show on Friday (7 p.m. ET on ESPN), ESPN asked six of its contributors — Bradford Doolittle, Buster Olney, David Schoenfield, Alden Gonzalez, Tim Kurkjian and Jeff Passan — to select the players they think should be on the rosters for the Midsummer Classic on July 19 in Los Angeles.

Below are our starters, based on the experts’ votes, and all of the other players who got votes as reserves or pitchers. We also asked some of our contributors to answer questions about their selections.

For a complete list of their individual picks, click here.

(Note: Some players received votes at multiple positions. They’re listed where they received the most votes.)

American League

Starter voting:

catcher: Alejandro Kirk, Toronto Blue Jays (6 votes)

First base: Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Toronto Blue Jays (4) (Luis Arraez and Ty France each received one vote; Guerrero was chosen as a reserve on those nerds)

Second base: Jose Altuve, Houston Astros (4) (Luis Arraez and Andres Gimenez each received one vote; Altuve was chosen as a reserve on one of those ballots)

Third base (tie): Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Guardians (3) and Rafael Devers, Boston Red Sox (3) (Ramirez and Devers each received three starter votes and three reserve votes)

Short stop: Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox (5) (Jeremy Pena received one vote; Bogaerts was chosen as a reserve on that ballot)

Outfield: Aaron Judge, New York Yankees (6); Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels (6); Byron Buxton (3) (Others receiving starter votes — Julio Rodriguez, Yordan Alvarez)

Designated hitter: Yordan Alvarez, Houston Astros (5) (Shohei Ohtani received one vote; Alvarez was chosen as a starting outfielder on that ballot)

Starting pitcher: Justin Verlander, Houston Astros (3) (Shane McClanahan received two votes, Shohei Ohtani received one)


Reserve Voting:

VS: Jose Trevino, Yankees (2); Sean Murphy, Athletics (2); Salvador Perez, Royals (1); Adley Rutschman, Orioles (1)

1B: Luis Arraez, Twins (5); Ty France, Mariners (2); Anthony Rizzo, Yankees (1); Miguel Cabrera, Tigers (2)

2B: Andres Gimenez, Guardians (4); Gleyber Torres, Yankees (1)

SS: Carlos Correa, Twins (2); Tim Anderson, White Sox (3); Bobby Witt Jr., Royals (1)

3B: Rafael Deves, Red Sox (3); Jose Ramirez, Guardians (3) (Ramirez and Devers each received three starter votes and three reserve votes)

OF: Kyle Tucker, Astros (6); Julio Rodriguez, Mariners (4); Andrew Benintendi, Royals (4); Taylor Ward, Angels (1); Byron Buxton, Twins (3); George Springer, Blue Jays (2); Austin Hays, Orioles (3); Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees (1)

DH: Shohei Ohtani*, Angels (5)

*Note: Ohtani was selected as both a DH and pitcher by our voters. He was placed here because that’s where he had the most votes.


Pitcher Voting (including starter votes):

Shane McClanahan, SP, Rays (6)

Justin Verlander, SP, Astros (6)

Alek Manoah, SP, Rays (6)

Martin Perez, SP, Rangers (6)

Dylan Cease, SP, White Sox (6)

Gerrit Cole, SP, Yankees (3)

Tarik Skubal, SP, Tigers (3)

Kevin Gausman, SP, Blue Jays (3)

Nestor Cortes, SP, Yankees (4)

Frankie Montas, SP, Athletics (1)

Paul Blackburn, SP, Athletics (3)

Framber Valdez, SP, Astros (3)

Shane Bieber, SP, Guardians (1)

Logan Gilbert, SP, Mariners (1)

Clay Holmes, PR, Yankees (6)

Emmanuel Clase, PR, Guardians (6)

Jorge Lopez, PR, Orioles (2)

Michael King, PR, Yankees (2)

John Schreiber, PR, Red Sox (1)

Gregory Soto, PR, Tigers (1)

Liam Hendriks, PR, White Sox (1)

JP Feyereisen, RP, Rays (1)

Who should get the starting node in the AL, and why?

The best pitching story in the American League in 2022 is the dominant return of Verlander. We have a future Hall of Famer who basically missed two entire seasons coming back from Tommy John surgery at age 39, and he’s just as staggeringly good as when we last saw him winning the Cy Young Award in 2019. OK, almost as good — the strikeouts are down a little.

The All-Star Game is about moments — just like how Ohtani HAD to start last year’s game — and the best moment for the 2022 game would be Verlander taking the mound as the starting pitcher, rather than in some other random inning when everybody is already in line for Dodger dogs.

McClanahan absolutely, most definitely is an awesome pitcher and absolutely, most definitely is a serving All-Star Game starter — in almost every year except this one. If he’s the real deal, he’ll be back to start some other All-Star Game. –Schoenfield


National League

Starter voting:

catcher: Willson Contreras, Chicago Cubs (6 votes)

First base: Paul Goldschmidt, St. Louis Cardinals (6)

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Second base: Tommy Edman, St. Louis Cardinals (4) (Jazz Chisholm Jr. received two votes; Edman was chosen as a shortstop reserve on those ballots)

Third base: Manny Machado, San Diego Padres (5) (Nolan Arenado received one vote; Machado was chosen as a reserve on that ballot)

Short stop: Dansby Swanson, Atlanta Braves (4) (Trea Turner received two votes; Swanson was chosen as a reserve on those ballots)

Outfield (tie): Mookie Betts, Los Angeles Dodgers (5); Ronald Acuna Jr., Atlanta Braves (4); Jeff McNeil, New York Mets (2); Kyle Schwarber, Philadelphia Phillies (2); Juan Soto, Washington Nationals (2) (McNeil, Schwarber and Soto tied for the third outfield spot with two votes each; Others receiving starter votes — Joc PedersonBrandon Nimmo, Bryce Harper)

Designated hitter: Bryce Harper, Philadelphia Phillies (5) (Josh Bell received one vote; Harper was chosen as a starting outfielder on that ballot)

Starting pitcher: Sandy Alcantara, Miami Marlins (5) (Clayton Kershaw received one vote)


Reserve Voting:

VS: Will Smith, Dodgers (5); Yadier Molina, Cardinals (1)

1B: Freddie Freeman, Dodgers (3); Josh Bell, Nationals (2); Pete Alonso, Mets (5); Christian Walker, Diamondbacks (2)

2B: Jazz Chisolm Jr., Marlins (3); Jeff McNeil, Mets (3)

SS: Trea Turner, Dodgers (3)

3B: Nolan Arenado, Cardinals (5); Austin Riley, Braves (1); Brandon Drury, Reds (4); Ke’Bryan Hayes, Pirates (1)

OF: Ronald Acuna Jr., Braves (1); Brandon Nimmo, Mets (2); Kyle Schwarber, Phillies (3); Bryan Reynolds, Pirates (3); Starling Marte, Mets (3); Joc Pederson, Giants (1); Ian Happ, Cubs (1); Juan Soto, Nationals (1); Mookie Betts, Dodgers (1)

DH: Albert Pujols, Cardinals (2); CJ Cron, Rockies (5)


Pitcher Voting (including starter votes):

Sandy Alcantara, SP, Marlins (6)

Max Fried, SP, Braves (6)

Corbin Burnes, SP, Brewers (6)

Joe Musgrove, SP, Padres (4)

Tony Gonsolin, SP, Dodgers (6)

Zack Wheeler, SP, Phillies (5)

Aaron Nola, SP, Phillies (3)

Carlos Rodon, SP, Giants (5)

Merrill Kelly, SP, Diamondbacks (1)

Clayton Kershaw, SP, Dodgers (1)

Zac Gallen, SP, Diamondbacks (1)

Luis Castillo, SP, Reds (2)

Kyle Wright, SP, Braves (1)

Pablo Lopez, SP, Marlins (1)

Josh Hader, PR, Brewers (6)

Edwin Diaz, PR, Mets (4)

Ryan Helsley, PR, Cardinals (5)

Devin Williams, PR, Brewers (3)

Joe Mantiply, PR, Diamondbacks (2)

Taylor Rogers, PR, Padres (1)

Daniel Bard, PR, Rockies (1)

David Bednar, PR, Pirates (2)

Why should Alcantara get the starting nod in the NL?

There are two schools of thought when it comes to the All-Star Game, and neither is wrong. The first is that the All-Star Game exists to showcase stars. The second is that the game should reward the best performers of the season’s first three months. Alcantara represents a merging of the two. He is the guy average fans don’t realize they want to see, and he has been, far and away, the best pitcher in the NL this season.

Sure, it would be cool for Dodger Stadium to feature Kershaw or Gonsolin, but the All-Star Game is for the world, not the host city. Let them get their ovation later in the game. Give the starting nod to the most serving pitcher, the one with a dozen more innings than the next-closest starter, with a 1.82 ERA, with a fastball that darts about at triple-digit speeds and a changeup faster than Kershaw’s heater. Recognize performance. Honor the work. Do what’s right, Brian Snitker. Start Alcantara. –Passan


More questions and answers

What was the toughest decision you made?

There are always a couple of teams struggling so badly from top to bottom that you end up having to bump players considerably more worthy just to get them their obligatory roster spot. The tough part isn’t so much deciding which player on those teams should go, but more how to manipulate the roster to minimize the pain of creating space.

This was how Walker ended up on my NL roster and Bell did not. Walker became my default Diamondback after my initial swipe left Arizona unaccounted for.

I’m not crazy about Walker’s season, but I still felt like he needed to be my Diamondback — even though he has incredibly weird splits. Like this: Sixteen of Walker’s 21 homers have been solo shots. He’s hitting .303 against lefties but .180 against righties. He has a .921 OPS with the bases empty but .555 with runners in scoring position. I could go on all night.

Bell was on my initial roster, beating out Soto as my lone player from the Nationals. But the NL outfield situation isn’t awesome, and I really wanted Soto on the roster. It’s the All-Star game, and he’s Juan Soto. Including Soto filled an outfield slot and allowed me to swap Walker for Bell.

I still don’t feel great about this. — Doolittle

How do you weigh recent success with career accomplishments on All-Star rosters?

An All-Star nod is forever; a player’s career is largely defined by it. I’m mindful of that when it comes to selecting All-Stars, which is why I try not to base it solely on what a player has done through the first three months of a season. It’s a factor, of course, but a player’s track record and overall talent level should also come into play.

France, for example, has had a better first half than Guerrero, but he is not a better player. Acuna hasn’t been among the three most productive outfielders in the NL this season, but he’s an all-world talent who has been good nonetheless and should be starting. The formula is inexact and literate with inconsistency (as you can see with my Gonsolin selection). Ultimately, though, it’s important to use common sense and to remember that this is an event. We want to see the best players — not simply the guys who have had the best first halves. — González

Which team will win this year?

Baseball is incredibly difficult to predict, even more so when it’s exhibition baseball. But I think the American League is slightly more talented based on the roster I put together because it possesses what might be the only notable edge at designated hitter — and that is merely because Harper is hurt. We’re really splitting hairs here, but I like the outfield trio of Buxton, Trout and Judge slightly better than the one of Soto, Acuna and Betts.

Keep in mind, too, that a lot of these All-Star Games are decided late, when the starters have all left. Depending on how DH and third base shake out, the AL will have two of Alvarez, Ohtani, Devers and Ramirez off its bench — and they’re all serious MVP candidates at the moment. — González

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