Latino stars could take the lion’s share of headlines at this year’s All-Star Game.
The game, scheduled for Cleveland’s Progressive Field on July 9, will feature starting lineups selected by fans in a new, two-pronged voting system.
Fans may select eight position players for both the American and National Leagues plus the designated hitter for the AL (Since the NL does not deploy the DH during the season, National League manager Dave Roberts will name his DH from players on his roster).
Once three finalists from each position are selected in this first-ever baseball “primary,” fans will have 24 hours – baseball’s equivalent of “election day” – to pick the actual starters from that list.
A long list of Latinos figures to survive the primary, which ends this Friday.
Here’s an educated guess at those who deserve your votes the most:
C – Gary Sánchez may still have trouble with passed balls but his arm, catching skills, and powerful bat make him a prohibitive favorite behind the plate.
1B – This is a no-brainer. José Abreu has been leading the league in various offensive departments since the season started.
2B – Since former MVP José Altuve has been sidelined by injury most of the season, the leading Latinos are Jonathan Schoop, who found new life in Minnesota, followed by Rougned Odor and Jurickson Profar.
SS – Hometown favorite Francisco Lindor is a virtual lock to start at shortstop for the Junior Circuit. But he’ll be pushed for playing time by Jorge Polanco, a sudden standout in the Twin Cities; Elvis Andrus, who has the best first name in the game; and Xander Bogaerts, who has vocally objected to his sixth-place standing in the fan voting.
3B – Unable to replicate last year’s 30/30 campaign, Cleveland’s José Ramírez has been mired in a miserable slump all season. That makes Yandy Díaz, Yoan Moncada, and even rookie Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. the best Latinos at the hot corner in the American League.
OF – Yet another Twin terror, Eddie Rosario, deserves an All-Star start. But Jorge Soler and rookie Eloy Jiménez will get some serious consideration too.
DH – J.D. Martinez, who nearly won the MVP trophy last summer, isn’t quite as potent as he was in 2018, opening the door for newly-acquired Yankee Edwin Encarnación , who was leading the league in home runs entering midweek play.
C – If Willson Contreras can’t corral enough votes, old standby Yadier Molina and Miami surprise Jorge Alfaro might be worthy challengers.
1B – Heavy-hitting Milwaukee cleanup man Jesús Aguilar was an All-Star reserve last year who could be caught behind eye-popping sluggers Freddie Freeman and Josh Bell.
2B – With Robinson Canó on the decline, switch-hitting Ozzie Albies, a José Altuve clone, should make the All-Star roster for the second straight summer – but as a starter this time. He’s hit much better from the left side this season. César Hernández has an outside shot too.
SS – Moving from second to short didn’t put a dent in the play of Javy Báez. The key cog in the Cubs lineup has speed, power, and the tools to play any position well.
3B – With Nolan Arenado and Manny Machado in the same league, picking a starter will be tougher than picking a president. But Arenado merits the spot because nobody matches his combination of power plus defense.
OF – Look for last year’s Rookie of the Year, Ronald Acuña, Jr., to become an All-Star for the first time. He could be joined by two unrelated men with the same surname: Ketel Marte of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Starling Marte of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Marcel Ozuna and David Peralta may wind up as reserves.
Since every vote counts, you can give the 2019 All-Star Game a Latino game-face. The Google All-Star ballot is available online.
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