The 2017 Major League Baseball All-Star Game is four weeks away, and Oakland Athletics‘ Yonder Alonso is topping the American League balloting for first baseman.
Alonso leads all AL first baseman in on-base percentage (.398), slugging percentage (.635) and runs created (43.1), he is also tied with Justin Smoak for the positional lead in WAR (1.9) and third in home runs (16). It has been his production when it counts, though, that separates Alonso — with runners in scoring position, Alonso tops all first sackers with a .385 average and .500 on-base percentage.
While none of Alonso’s teammates are among the top five in voting at their position, Ryon Healy, Jed Lowrie and Khris Davis each boast All-Star-caliber numbers, and thus will receive endorsement from their coach when bench players are decided upon. Bob Melvin and his fellow AL skippers will advocate for their own players in filling out the final seven roster spots — five pitchers and two position players.
The better chance, though, comes in the players’ selections. Along with eight pitchers, a player vote will fill nine position spots.
Davis — 17 home runs (T-5, AL), 41 RBIs (T-9) and 39 runs (T-12) — is suffering from a low average (.245) and on-base percentage (.325) so, despite coming off a 42-homer season and producing power early, he will likely be watching on TV. Lowrie — 22 doubles (T-1), 42 runs (No. 6), .290 batting average (No. 16) and .358 on-base percentage (No. 21) — is a victim of playing a position (second base) jam-packed with Junior Circuit production, and will likely watch as well.
Oakland’s best chance at a second All-Star is Healy, with an outside nod to Sean Manaea (6-3, 3.67 ERA, 66 strikeouts).
The designated hitter brings the A’s second-best combination of average (.282), power (15 home runs) and run production (40 RBIs). His numbers are just a tick behind those of Nelson Cruz (.306, 14, 52) and Corey Dickerson (.337, 15, 32) rendering him the third-best in a position that will likely produce only two bids.
Of course, there is the fact that last-place teams are not often represented by multiple All-Stars, which could be Healy’s ultimate undoing.
If there is to be just one All-Star representing the green and gold, though, Alonso is the clear pick. His breakout season has made him one of the best hitters in 2017, a guy that, for all intents and purposes, has been the only Oakland hitter maintaining production from day one.
Plus, the added backstory of the Cuban-born Alonso making a return to his adopted home of Miami for his first All-Star appearance in this, his ninth big league season adds mystique to an already magical year.
But, his hopes of starting go through All-Star fixtures Miguel Cabrera, over whom he holds a slim 4,457-vote advantage, and Eric Hosmer, whose vote tally is nestled fewer than 2,000 votes behind “Miggy.”
Kalama Hines is SFBay’s sports director and Oakland Athletics beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @HineSight_2020 on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of A’s baseball.