10 veterans pushing for 1st All-Star nod

Read our story on the ballot format, which includes two phases of fan voting to determine All-Star starters.

It’s an eternal honor to be selected for an All-Star Game. Once you hit one, you can call yourself All-Star forever. Still! Brad Boxberg? All Star. Matt Caps? All Star. Caesar Izturis? All Star. If I ever made an All-Star team, I would include it in every autograph I gave for the rest of my life.

Some players make careers in the All-Star Games: Albert Pujols made 10, Mike Trout nine, Justin Verlander eight. But doing it once is a major achievement – and it’s something you always have.

This year, there are 10 players who have had substantial big-league careers, who have had a good enough season to merit some consideration, and who have never made an All-Star Game before. (We’re omitting players starting out in the big leagues for now who are surely signed up for plenty of midsummer classics, like Julio Rodríguez or Wander Franco.) Maybe this is the year, maybe not. But it’s the 10 that are most likely to finally get their first.

Andrew Benintendi, LF, Royals
There must be a Royal somewhere on the roster, and if it’s not Bobby Witt Jr. (who should have plenty of opportunities down the line), what about Benintendi? He got off to a great start, batting well over .300 with a solid OBP, and he’s one of the few veterans on this team to live up to the expectations of the Royals. Of all these young Red Sox phenomena of the time, Benintendi is the only one who has not yet participated in an All-Star Game. (Even Jackie Bradley Jr. made one in 2016.) This may be the last best chance he has.

Byron Buxton, FC, twins
While Buxton still feels like a phenom – that will happen when you’ve only played more than 92 games in a season once in your career – this is actually his eighth year in the major leagues. If he’s healthy, he’s an MVP candidate, but that’s a big if. A big slump in the second half of May reduced Buxton’s showy numbers, but he rebounded in June and still looks All-Star caliber. And he is, all together now, in good health. Or at least as healthy as possible.

Kole Calhoun, RF, Rangers
Since leaving the Angels after the 2019 season, Calhoun spent a few years in Arizona and then joined the Rangers this year. He did what he usually does: hit a few home runs, played decent right field (did you know he won a Gold Glove Award in 2015?) and generally stayed under the radar. But he was one of baseball’s best hitters in the month of May, and his numbers, which are typical of him, look better in that offensive environment. It’s his 11th season: if he doesn’t make it this year, he probably never will.

Carlos Carrasco, PS, Mets
Carrasco is one of those pitchers who certainly feels like he’s made an All-Star Game before, but he never has. (He didn’t even make it in 2017, when he finished fourth in voting for the AL Cy Young Award.) He’s been the constant in an ever-changing Mets rotation, making every start and currently leading the major leagues in terms of wins, which is impressive. even if you don’t really like wins. (He’s four 100 wins for his career.) Considering what Carrasco has been through, seeing him pitch in the All-Star Game would be one of the most inspiring stories of the season.

CJ Cron, 1B, Rockies
Cron has always, always hit, from his early years in Anaheim — he used to follow Trout and Pujols in that roster — to Tampa Bay, Minnesota and Detroit, and now to Colorado. He’s found a real home with the Rockies and has a real shot at becoming the club’s first player to hit 45 homers since Todd Helton in 2001. (If he can hit 50, he’ll have Colorado’s single-season record.) Even at a stacked first base position, Cron stands out for his power.

Max Fried, PS, Braves
Fried may still be underrated as a starter, despite a career 3.24 ERA for the Braves and a top five NL Cy Young Award finisher in 2020 (when he went 7-0). With the lowest FIP ​​of his career (2.91), the Atlanta ace saved the life of the slow-starting defending champions. The southpaw has already won a World Series clincher, so an All-Star Game appearance is the next logical step.

Joe Musgrove, SP, Padres
Remember when the big debate was about which Padres pitcher would win the Cy Young Award between Blake Snell and Yu Darvish? Well, it’s actually Musgrove who’s been the star since those three pitchers arrived last season, and he now looks like a favorite for that honor in 2022. Musgrove is a San Diego kid who gave the franchise his first no-hitter and has just got better and better. He’s 7-0 with a 1.50 ERA this season, so just forget about being named to the All-Star team — Musgrove should probably start this game.

Brandon Nimmo, CF, Mets
Is there a more perpetually underrated baseball player than Nimmo? The guy has a career .390 OBP and plays perfectly decent center field for a New York team. Injuries have been a problem for him, but he’s been healthy this year and getting down to base as always, while posting 3+ strikeouts over center. The All-Star Game will be packed with Mets this year, but it would be nice to make room for Nimmo, who has more than expected.

Martin Perez, PS, Rangers
Did you know that Perez was a teammate with Michael Young? He’s a guy who’s been with Rangers for a while. Sure, he detoured to Minnesota and Boston from 2019-21, but his return to Arlington was a resounding success this year. His 1.56 ERA is amazing (and mostly supported by his peripherals), and keeping the ball in the stadium was key. He allowed just one homer in 69 1/3 innings. He’s older and wiser now and has never looked so good. Some of us are latecomers, you know?

Julio Urías, SP, Dodgers
Urías, who is only 25, is in something like his seventh year at the Majors. It’s absurd! He’s played just about every role the Dodgers have asked of him, and he’s excelled in all of them. Three years ago, he had 29 relief appearances and four saves; last year he won 20 games. This year, he again has an ERA below 3.00. Urías probably would have made the All-Star Game if there had been one in 2020, so while that’s a remarkable thing to say about someone who’s only 25, Urías is late.

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