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Which Twins nominees deserve to start the All-Star Game?

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Four men enter; who will move on?

Minnesota Twins v Kansas City Royals
Here’s hoping he runs away with the election.
Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

As we learned Friday, four Twins have advanced to the Starters’ Election to represent the American League in the All-Star Game lineup. Though only three (or nine, in the case of outfielders) players remaining at each position, each Twin must advance on his own merits, as Minnesota does not have the large-market advantage of an innumerable heap of hometown votes. Here’s a quick analysis of how these four Twins measure up to their competition. (All stats are through June 22.)

First base

C.J. Cron: .285 AVG, .349 OBP, .547 SLG, .895 OPS, 17 HR, 2.1 bWAR, 1.4 fWAR
Carlos Santana: .292 AVG, .415 OBP, .532 SLG, .947 OPS, 16 HR, 2.6 bWAR, 2.5 fWAR
Luke Voit: .268 AVG, .388 OBP, .496 SLG, .885 OPS, 17 HR, 1.5 bWAR, 1.5 fWAR

Voit, the leading vote-getter (and Yankee), is third in my rankings here, as he trails either Cron or Santana in every category. The question then becomes Santana or Cron; while Cron has better stats as a slugger, Santana reaches base more frequently and has the highest WAR per both Baseball Reference and Fangraphs. (Per BBRef, their defense is comparable, while Voit’s is slightly lower.) While either would be a very good representative for the American League, and while I really don’t want to vote for a player from Cleveland, Santana is my choice.

Shortstop

Jorge Polanco: .324 AVG, .383 OBP, .544 SLG, .927 OPS, 11 HR, 3.8 bWAR, 2.8 fWAR
Carlos Correa: .295 AVG, .360 OBP, .547 SLG, .907 SLG, 11 HR, 1.8 bWAR, 1.8 fWAR
Gleyber Torres: .287 AVG, .347 OBP, .544 SLG, .891 OPS, 18 HR, 2.2 bWAR, 2.1 fWAR

Polanco is a legitimate 2019 AL MVP candidate, leading the league in batting average and tied for the MLB lead with 96 hits. He also paced the All-Star voting at shortstop, and his stats affirm he should start. While Torres has maintained his power and Correa has hit well when not injured, Polanco’s consistency with the bat puts him atop this list.

Designated hitter

Nelson Cruz: .271 AVG, .361 OBP, .543 SLG, .904 OPS, 13 HR, 1.3 bWAR, 1.1 fWAR
J.D. Martinez: .293 AVG, .369 OBP, .533 SLG, .903 OPS, 16 HR, 1.5 bWAR, 1.6 fWAR
Hunter Pence: .294 AVG, .353 OBP, .608 SLG, .962 OPS, 15 HR, 1.4 bWAR, 1.7 fWAR

You can make a case for any of these DHs, but I find Cruz the hardest to push for. Though the numbers are close, he trails Martinez or Pence in each category, and is third of the three (though again it’s close) in both WAR measurements. My vote will go to Pence, whose .608 SLG and .962 OPS jump off the page.

Outfield

Eddie Rosario: .269 AVG, .300 OBP, .512 SLG, .812 OPS, 19 HR, 1.8 bWAR, 1.1 fWAR
Mookie Betts: .264 AVG, .387 OBP, .463 SLG, .850 OPS, 12 HR, 3.2 bWAR, 2.4 fWAR
Michael Brantley: .320 AVG, .378 OBP, .512 SLG, .890 OPS, 11 HR, 2.4 bWAR, 2.3 fWAR
Joey Gallo: .276 AVG, .421 OBP, .653 SLG, 1.074 OPS, 17 HR, 3.1 bWAR, 3.2 fWAR
Aaron Judge: .266 AVG, .385 OBP, .481 SLG, .866 OPS, 5 HR (22 games played), 1.1 bWAR, 0.8 fWAR
Austin Meadows: .301 AVG, .373 OBP, .549 SLG, .922 OPS, 12 HR, 1.9 bWAR, 2.0 fWAR
Josh Reddick: .293 AVG, .335 OBP, .440 SLG, .775 OPS, 9 HR, 0.9 bWAR, 0.9 fWAR
George Springer: .308 AVG, .389 OBP, .643 SLG, 1.032 OPS, 17 HR (48 games played), 2.6 bWAR, 2.7 fWAR
Mike Trout: .307 AVG, .468 OBP, .649 SLG, 1.118 OPS, 22 HR, 5.4 bWAR, 5.3 fWAR

The only reason Rosario and not Max Kepler (who leads qualifying AL right fielders with a 2.7 fWAR) is the Twins’ representative in the Starters’ Election is his early home run surge. But Rosario has not homered since June 9, two weeks ago, and he is one of the weaker candidates on this list. (AUTHOR’S NOTE: Rosario just hit a home run while I was writing this paragraph.) Reddick, Judge, and to a lesser extent Betts are only on this list because of their strong, sizable fanbases. Trout and Springer (who has missed a lot of time but still dominated) are the two obvious starters, and of Brantley, Meadows, Gallo, and Betts - any of whom might be a deserving starter - my vote will go to Gallo, who has like Springer dominated in a limited time.

I’d like to remind readers that this is my opinion on who should start; just because I say a certain Twin should not start doesn’t mean I think he should be left off the American League roster for July 9.

Voting for the All-Star starters will take place between 11 AM June 26 and 3 PM June 27 (both times Central). I hope the information above will help you choose wisely. (Namely, vote Polanco.)