AL All-Star Tiers

We complete our All-Star picks, now with the AL.

For everything that is unique and special about every baseball season, there are a few things that we can always count on. Opening Day hope, Hall of Fame debates, Mike Trout injuries, and the ever-present All-Star selections and snubs. With less than a month to go before the actual festivities, it is inevitable to engage in these latter discussions, especially in a season in which most of the league is hovering around .500 and true greatness is hard to find.

Among all baseball debates, defining what an All-Star is becomes one of the quirkiest, as single-season merit is not always the lone consideration. With every team (even the White Sox!) having to send at least one representative, and veterans with name recognition always carrying at least some weight with the voting fans, it becomes clear that we will never have a fair and all-encompassing All-Star selection.

With this in mind, we will do our best to present an unbiased and complete ballot, ending today with the American League. Each position has three players, starting with a lock that has earned a starting spot, a hopeful that is on the brink of at least having a place on the bench, and a wild card that needs at least a couple of good weeks to earn an invite to Arlington.

For completion’s sake, you can check out our first installment covering the National League.




The Lock: Adley Rutschman

The Hopeful: Salvador Perez

The Wild Card: Logan O’Hoppe

With the Orioles and Yankees going neck and neck for AL East supremacy, it is no surprise that the All-Star roster will be full of these teams, starting with arguably the best backstop in the game. In his third year in the majors, Adley Rutschman is ready for his second All-Star appearance, having slugged 14 homers with an .830 OPS and his usual strong defense. On the other side of the age spectrum, Salvador Perez has turned back the clock after a tough 2023 that appeared to signal the beginning of the end. Instead, Perez has increased his OPS by 100 points and is on track for the seventh 20+ homer season of his storied career, and that should be more than enough for his ninth All-Star berth. Rounding out the position, Logan O’Hoppe has been solid after a year lost to injuries, but there is simply no way to challenge the top two catchers in the AL.


First Base


The Lock: Josh Naylor

The Hopeful: Ryan Mountcastle

The Wild Card: Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

While the age of the hulking slugger at first base may be over, we can still appreciate a player like Josh Naylor. Despite a low OBP, he still leads all AL first basemen in homers, RBI, and OPS – all of them by significant margins. Alas, the latest fan vote does not feature him among the top two selections, which would be a travesty of justice, as Naylor is clearly deserving of the first All-Star appearance of his six-year career. If the Guardians slugger doesn’t make it, the Orioles are bound to get another starter in Mountcastle, who is also in line for his first All-Star game. With 11 homers and 39 RBI, the numbers do not scream prototypical first baseman, but he has been such an important part of Baltimore’s offense that he still represents a worthy pick. Vlad Jr. has stayed relevant on All-Star circles mostly as a brand name, but he remains one of the most disappointing players in baseball. While advanced metrics suggest he should break out at any moment, and he actually leads the position in OBP, his overall production feels lacking.


Second Base


The Lock: Jose Altuve

The Hopeful: Marcus Semien

The Wild Card: Willi Castro

Despite cooling off after a torrid start, Jose Altuve is one of the biggest reasons the Astros did not fall completely apart and are now climbing back to contention. While his baseball card numbers are not particularly noteworthy (12 homers, 33 RBI), he has made it up with the best average and OBP among AL second basemen, earning what should be his ninth All-Star selection. Elsewhere in Texas, the hosting team has struggled to follow up their championship with a solid season, making it hard to pinpoint an obvious All-Star. The steadiest of them all may be Semien, who plays everyday and provides value in many ways, even as his offensive output has dwindled. While his .728 OPS would be the lowest since his Oakland days, he still outpaces most players at the keystone. With such a shallow position, we can at least mention that Willi Castro continues to be an underrated player for the Twins. Despite playing all over the field in 2024, he is listed at second base in MLB’s official ballot, with an OPS that almost matches Altuve’s.


Third Base


The Lock: Jose Ramirez

The Hopeful: Rafael Devers

The Wild Card: Jordan Westburg

Last season, Jose Ramirez was the clear best player in Cleveland, and earned his fifth All-Star selection. This time around, the Guardians are much better on offense, helping Ramirez on his quest to return to the playoffs. At age 31, Ramirez is on pace for the first 40-homer season of his career, while also challenging to surpass the 30-steal mark for the first time. He remains one of the league’s truly elite hitters, and should be celebrated as such. Close to Ramirez, Rafael Devers has helped the Red Sox in their surprisingly strong season, leading all AL third basemen in OPS and going on a couple of power stretches that have shaped his season. He should earn his third career All-Star nod, which feels low for a player of his caliber in his eighth season. Finally, Jordan Westburg is currently holding steady in the fan vote, but his nice season does not appear to warrant a call to this game. 13 homers and an .831 OPS are okay, but probably not All-Star level.




The Lock: Gunnar Henderson

The Hopeful: Bobby Witt Jr.

The Wild Card: Carlos Correa

As other positions in the AL are not making it easy for All-Star voters, shortstop is a whole different story, with the top two candidates having monster seasons. The starting nod goes to Gunnar Henderson by a small margin, as he has followed up his Rookie of the Year campaign with an MVP-like half season, leading the AL in WAR by mixing stellar defense with a .278/.377/.596 slash line that includes 44 extra-base hits. In any other year, Witt’s .894 OPS and 21 steals would merit a starting nod, but he is still worthy as a backup, earning his first All-Star nod. Carlos Correa has had a nice bounce-back season, but the gap between him and the two wunderkinds is significant.




The Locks: Aaron Judge, Juan Soto, Kyle Tucker

The Hopefuls: Steven Kwan, Jarren Duran, JJ Bleday

The Wild Cards: Daulton Varsho, Riley Greene, Anthony Santander

The AL outfield is so loaded with star power that this whole exercise feels moot. The Yankees’ duo of Judge and Soto has combined for 46 homers, 126 RBI, and an OPS above 1, which sounds like something from the Ruth-Gehrig era. With Shohei Ohtani switching leagues, Judge has reclaimed his spot as the AL’s top player, putting up insane numbers despite a slow start to the season. Soto has embraced the Bronx just as much as the Bronx has welcomed him, complementing his usual high-OBP game with enough power to create a bidding war once he becomes a free agent. The top three stops with Kyle Tucker, who feels almost underrated at this point. While his 19-homer, 40-RBI totals look almost Rob Deer-like, they have come mostly as a result of Houston’s lack of offense as a whole. You cannot fault an outfielder with a .979 OPS and 3.6 WAR for a low RBI total, as Tucker clearly deserves his third straight nod.

Having a certifiable murderer’s row at the top of the pecking order is bad for other AL outfielders, but some of them deserve their flowers and will be worthy backups in their own right. That list starts with Steven Kwan, who does not appear in any leaderboards due to insufficient plate appearances, but that should change in the second half of the season. Kwan’s .389 average over 203 at-bats is eye-popping, while his 7 homers are already a career high. Jarren Duran also fits the bill as a low-power, high-value player, putting up his best season in his first chance as a full-time starter. Duran leads the league in both doubles and triples, with this usual strong defense catapulting him atop the WAR leaderboards. The backup trio is complete with JJ Bleday, who is seventh among AL outfielders in OPS and has made the most of his chance to shine with the lowly A’s. Other more famous players will probably overtake Bleday, but he has earned this call, and not only as Oakland’s token player.

At the bottom of the ballot, other outfielders are waiting for their chance to add “All-Star” to their resumes, but they all feel a step below their counterparts. Daulton Varsho has been the most consistent Blue Jays hitter, but that is not saying much. Riley Greene’s 40 RBI on 15 homers feel much like Tucker’s lack of team support, but he still strikes out too much for comfort. Anthony Santander has held the fort for Baltimore’s outfield, but he is still unlikely to become a first-time All-Star at age 29.


Designated Hitter


The Lock: Yordan Alvarez

The Hopeful: David Fry

The Wild Card: Kevin Pillar

In another case of post-Ohtani benefits, Yordan Alvarez projects to be the AL’s premier designated hitter for years to come. This means that even in a down-for-his-standards season, Alvarez is head and shoulders above other full-time DHs. His .877 OPS would represent a career low, while he is on pace to post a sub-90 RBI total for the first time over a full season, and yet nobody is even close to his production. The closest thing to a contender may be David Fry, who has emerged as a spark plug and on-base machine for the Guardians. Limited to only 56 games so far, Fry is far from a traditional DH, but he still boasts a .950 OPS with eight homers. With Giancarlo Stanton out with injury (as usual), we can at least give a shout-out to Kevin Pillar, who could find his way into the All-Star Game as the Angels lone representative. In his 12th MLB season and playing for his ninth team, Pillar’s .934 OPS in Anaheim has probably been the only positive development in yet another lost season for the Halos.


Starting Pitcher


The Locks: Corbin Burnes, Tanner Houck, Tarik Skubal

The Hopefuls: Ronel Blanco, Garrett Crochet, Seth Lugo

The Wild Cards: Logan Gilbert, Luis Gil, Cole Ragans

Selecting a starting pitcher may be Bruce Bochy’s toughest call in this game, as the AL has been full of quality hurlers. In fact, debating between Corbin Burnes and Tanner Houck is almost impossible considering the similarity in their profiles, but the details may give a small edge to the Red Sox righty. Houck has a small advantage in ERA (2.18 to 2.35), innings (103.1 to 99.2), WHIP (0.97 to 1.01), and strikeouts (101 to 94), and he has also owns the lowest HR rate in baseball, somehow only allowing two dingers. If you add that he came out of nowhere to suddenly become the league’s premier pitcher, the narrative may be enough to outlast Burnes, who already has three All-Star games under his belt. Rounding out the top tier, Tarik Skubal has taken the proverbial leap in 2024, sporting a 2.50 ERA with 105 strikeouts over 90 innings. While he likely will not start this game, he has emerged as the favorite for seasons to come and should garner consideration for Cy Young voting.

The second tier of starting pitchers is full of hurlers aiming towards their first career All-Star selection, even if their origin stories could not be more different. Ronel Blanco has been an inspiring story, which is kind of hard to fathom for the usually-villainous Astros. Blanco pitched a no-hitter to start the season and has gone on to suppress hits at an elite level, allowing only 48 over 84.2 innings en route to an 8-2 mark with a 2.34 ERA. Seth Lugo had toiled for years between the bullpen and the rotation, and he was met with skepticism when the Royals signed him as a free agent. Repaying that trust, Lugo has posted the best season of his career, with an AL-leading 10 wins and the second-highest innings total in the circuit. Finally, Garrett Crochet is at long last breaking out at age 25, becoming one of the few reasons to actually tune in to a White Sox game. His 130 strikeouts and 12.4 K/9 rate lead the AL by a mile, as he has removed all doubts regarding his status as a starter.

With such depth at the position, it still seems unfair that the likes of Logan Gilbert (leading the AL in innings pitched and WHIP), Luis Gil (9 wins and a 2.77 ERA as a rookie), and Cole Ragans (120 Ks over 98 innings) are left out, but a hot start to July could still see them make the roster and even surpass someone in the second tier.


Relief Pitcher


The Locks: Emmanuel Clase, Mason Miller, Clay Holmes

The Hopefuls: Kirby Yates, Andres Muñoz, Cade Smith

The Wild Cards: Craig Kimbrel, Kenley Jansen, Jason Adam

Rounding out Cleveland’s great season, Emmanuel Clase has been the bow that ties it all together. Despite a significant reduction in his strikeout rate, Clase has decided to simply stop giving chances to the opposition, leading the AL with a cartoonish 0.64 ERA and 24 saves in 27 tries. His third straight All-Star appearance is well deserved, though the rest of the Guardians bullpen also warrants recognition. In terms of All-Star appeal, the biggest draw from this bullpen is definitely Mason Miller, the Oakland youngster who has made it a habit to throw unhittable pitches and light up the radar gun. With a whopping 60 strikeouts over 34.2 innings, he is truly a sight to behold. The three-headed closing monster concludes with Clay Holmes, as his 19 saves are second in the AL while allowing only one homer over 33 innings. He may not be at his 2022-23 apex, but Holmes still is worthy of his second All-Star nod.

The rest of the bullpen for the AL will be similarly loaded, including a mix of wily veterans and up-and-coming pitchers. Kirby Yates started the season late but sports a 0.99 ERA, similar to Andres Muñoz and his sparkly 1.41 number. Cade Smith may be the best set-up man in the league right now, and he would be a great addition as a rookie, as his 1.75 ERA and high strikeout rate have made the back-end of Cleveland’s bullpen almost unbeatable. Jason Adam could become the token Rays selection, as no other player has really stood out. Finally, it is important to give their due to veterans Craig Kimbrel and Kenley Jansen, who have found another gear and become reliable closers for playoff contenders. Both have combined for 31 saves and only two homers allowed in 54.2 innings.

Pablo Figueroa

Pablo Figueroa is a Baseball Writer here at Pitcher List, with experience as a writer since 2013. He lives in Aguascalientes, Mexico - proud home of Los Rieleros. When he´s not thinking about baseball , he's a husband, owns two dogs, watches random episodes of The Sopranos , plays padel, and works on his day job to pay the bills.

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