MLB’s First-Time All Stars Have Something to Prove
One of the most exciting weeks of the summer is finally upon us: the MLB All-Star Game. Fans of the game far and wide will be tuning in to see all of their favorite players fight to see which league will prevail — even if this game will be the first to no longer impact home-field advantage in the World Series. Among the 68 players participating in this year’s festivities will be 23 first-timers: 15 from the AL and 8 from the NL. Seven of these fresh faces will start the game, and all are deserving. We’re going to take a glance at each one below and why they’ve earned their spot in the 2017 All-Star Game. (Stats are current through July 4.)
Justin Smoak – 1B – Toronto Blue Jays
Justin Smoak’s 2016 season was a bit of a letdown by his standards, but his 2017 has been fantastic thus far. His 22 home runs and 53 RBIs are some of the best numbers in the league currently, and he is the lone bright spot on a Blue Jays season which has been nothing short of abysmal. He is looking to show the league that not everything is bad north of the border with his first turn in the All-Star matchup.
Jose Ramirez – 3B – Cleveland Indians
Jose Ramirez is on a batting tear dating back to last October. A flex player who can play both infield or outfield, his real talent is putting the wood to the ball. His .327 average belies his natural ability to find the ball almost every time, and while his home run total is a relatively low 15, the ones he does manage to jack are doozies–each of them has exceeded 350 feet. Quick on his feet and with his bat, he is one to watch for some exciting play.
Carlos Correa – SS – Houston Astros
The Astros are the best team in baseball right now, thanks in no small part to Carlos Correa. This 22-year-old former Rookie of the Year is off to his personal best season, with 17 homers, 58 RBIs and a .320 batting average. His fielding is solid too, with 195 assists, 43 double plays, and just six errors on the season.
Aaron Judge – OF – New York Yankees
We’ve told you about The Judge before, and his season is only getting better. His 28 homers lead the league, and he has a fourth-best 63 RBIs. Standing at 6’7 and more than 280 pounds, this giant of a rookie is surprisingly fleet-footed on both sides of the ball. With his size, he’s hard to miss, but you’ll still want to make sure to keep an eye out when he brings the Judge’s Chamber to Miami.
George Springer – OF – Houston Astros
Another star of the Astros’ historic season, George Springer is another big bat for the AL. In fact, only Judge has more home runs at this point in the season, and his 53 RBIs have helped keep his team atop the standings for most of the season. They brought Springer in last season as part of a rebuilding effort, and he has certainly earned his keep.
Corey Dickerson – DH – Tampa Bay Rays
Slotting in at the AL’s designated hitter slot is Corey Dickerson. The outfielder was formerly with the Colorado Rockies before joining the Rays last season in a trade that Tampa Bay has seemed to be on the winning end of thus far. His .918 OPS proves that this journeyman is a threat to move the runners every time he grabs the wood.
Zack Cozart – SS – Cincinnati Reds
Zack Cozart is the only first-time starter for the NL this season, but he has shown he is certainly deserving of the honor. At 31, Cozart is finally having the breakout year he has always needed, having a .322 batting average, 9 home runs, and 33 RBIs in just 62 games this season. Quick on defense and always a threat to score when he gets on base, this all around athlete will be a welcomed addition for the NL.
(Image courtesy of Eric Kilby via Flickr.)