2022 MLB All-Star Game: The starters according to fWAR
The final ballots have been cast and starters have been announced for the 2022 MLB All-Star Game, scheduled for Dodger Stadium on Tuesday, July 19.
Fan voting has long been used to determine the starting lineups for each league. Now, player ballots, along with the MLB commissioner’s office, will select the starting pitcher, reserve position players and remaining pitcher roster for each league. Fan voting is a good way to select players since fans can see the most popular players compete against each other in the game. The downside of fan voting is that often the players who deserve more starting position based solely on their performance in the first half of the current season may be reserves, while a more popular player with lower results could get the nod.
With that in mind, what would the MLB All-Star Game starting rosters look like for each league if they were determined solely based on fWAR (FanGraphs WAR) and not fan voting?
It’s an absurd idea that will never come true, you might think. Well, actually, under the newly agreed CBA, there’s a portion of the prize pool for pre-arbitration top players that’s going to be paid out based on some version of WAR. It’s yet to be determined what MLB’s variant of WAR will look like, but it’s not too far off to think that All-Star Game starters could one day be selected based on WAR as well.
The fWAR numbers that were used in this exercise to select All-Star Game starters are based on games played through Thursday, July 7.
National League: All-Star starters based on fWAR
C – Wilson Contreras – 2.9 fWAR – Chicago Cubs
Contreras has a career year in 2022. He cuts at .274/.392/.498 and has a 151 wRC+. From an fWAR perspective, the receiver has already exceeded his season totals in fWAR in each of his previous six seasons. In what has been a frustrating year for the Cubs, Contreras has stood above the fray. Wilson has made up 28.7% of all fWAR clubs so far this season.
1B – Paul Goldschmidt – 4.4 fWAR – St. Louis Cardinals
Goldschmidt has lived up to his Goldy moniker for quite some time, and this year was even better than previous years. Goldy is slashing an incredible .342/.427/.619 and has a 194 wRC+. He is currently tied for the MLB lead in fWAR with compatriot Manny Machado and American leaguer Rafael Devers. Goldschmidt goes about his business and produces day after day. He’s not flashy, but he’s one of the best players in the league, and heading into the All-Star break he got himself in the middle of the NL MVP conversation.
2B – Tommy Edman – 3.4 fWAR – St. Louis Cardinals
Edman is a deft, defensive second baseman who can hit. Hitting .261/.329/.380 with 106 wRC+, Edman is right on target with his young career average results at plate. What sets Edman apart is his glove. Last year, which was his third season (and his first full 162-game season), he earned some hardware by winning a Gold Glove. This year, Edman continues to do all the pieces. In 397 defensive innings, he made no errors on the field and only two pitching errors.
SS – Dansby Swanson – 4.0 fWAR – Atlanta Braves
The first pick in the 2015 draft is playing up to that 1:1 draft spot for the first time this year. In previous seasons, Swanson has been a solid shortstop who just didn’t live up to the hype. This year he hits .298/.355/.492 and has a 135 wRC+. Swanson’s fWAR 4.0 is better than any of his previous six seasons. Swanson is expected to be a free agent at the end of the season, so he picked a good time to shine. Not only will Swanson be paid handsomely with a new contract at the end of the season, but it’s also just plain fun to have a guy named Dansby doing so well.
3B – Manny Machado – 4.4 fWAR – San Diego Padres
Machado leads one of the tightest races in the fWAR starting contest, edging out Nolan Arenado by 0.2 fWAR. The Baby Face Assassin turned 30 on July 6 and he looks as tough as ever. With Fernando Tatis Jr. out through injury this offseason, Machado has stepped up his game and is helping the Brothers get off to a good start. Machado already has a higher fWAR (4.4) than last year (4.2). He has a .315/.387/.533 batting line and a 157 wRC+.
DE – Mookie Betts – 3.7 fWAR – Los Angeles Dodgers
As one of the best and most popular players of his generation, Mookie Betts is having another stellar year. Despite missing 15 games recently due to a cracked rib he suffered in a collision with teammate Cody Bellinger, Betts leads all National League outfielders in fWAR. Hitting .277/.354/.561 and having a wRC+ of 156, Betts is once again making Dodgers fans happy and Red Sox fans crying. While playing just 65 games, Betts has hit 20 homers, which puts him on pace to eclipse his previous season record of 32 home runs he hit for the Red Sox in 2018.
DE – Brandon Nimmo – 2.8 fWAR – New York Mets
Casual fans might not have heard much about Nimmo. He is the center fielder for the NL East-leading New York Mets. Nimmo isn’t someone who just burst onto the scene this year, he’s been a solid player in his seven-year career. He was drafted in the first round (13th pick) in the 2011 draft by the Mets. Nimmo is not a superstar, but he is a great player. He currently leads the NL and is tied for the MLB lead in triples with five. The only time he led a static category was in 2018 when he topped all of MLB with 22 HBP. Wondering if he was a bad winner?
OF – Kyle Schwarber – 2.3 fWAR – Philadelphia Phillies
Schwarber is a baseball crushing machine this year. His 27 homers are the best in the NL and second in MLB only to Aaron Judge’s 30. fWAR usually isn’t a great stat for Schwarber because he’s such a terrible defender and has a high strikeout rate and low batting average. This year, however, it has reached such a high level (0.535) that it has helped offset some of its lower numbers. Maybe FanGraphs staff gave Schwarber a bump in his fWAR this season to go on Angel Hernandez April 24 on Sunday Night Baseball. He simply did what so many of us have wanted to do over the years with Hernandez behind the plate.
DH – Garrett Cooper – 1.8 fWAR – Miami Marlins
Cooper has the lowest fWAR of all to make the starting roster for either league. If not for Bryce Harper’s broken thumb (2.7 fWAR), Cooper wouldn’t have made this list at all. But with Harper out for several more weeks, Coopaloop gets the green light. It’s not like Cooper is having a bad year. He hits .308/.373/.462 and has a 138 wRC+.
P – Sandy Alcantara – 3.4 fWAR – Miami Marlins
In a world where solid tee shots are rare, Sandy Alcantara is a staple when he takes the mound. The powerful right-hander has electric stuff and has compiled impressive numbers all season, despite throwing in the tough NL East for a team that is currently three games under .500. Alcantara is 9-3, with a 1.82 ERA, 2.85 FIP, 0.91 WHIP, 0.4 HR/9, and opponents are hitting a dismal .189 against him. While most teams look to pull their starter out of the game after a few stints in the batting order, Alcantara has two full games under their belt this year.