Major League Baseball released its All-Star ballot on Wednesday and an impressive eight Chicago Cubs made the first cut. Of course, former All-Stars Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro headline the ballot as they look to repeat their 2014 accomplishment of being the first duo of Cubs to make the All-Star team since Castro and Bryan LaHair (remember him?) did so in 2012.
Of all the Cubs listed, it’s fair to say Coghlan (hitting .228/.290/.456) and La Stella (injured, only played in two games this season) have no chance of representing the National League this season. Fowler strikes me as a guy who could possibly grab a nomination for the ‘Final Vote ballot’ after rosters are announced.
Cubs fans are familiar with this system as Rizzo earned his first All-Star nod in 2014 thanks to the fans voting him for the last spot. Fowler is currently slashing .299/.372/.442 — ranking 5th in batting average, 4th in on-base percentage and 2nd in slugging percentage for National League center fielders.
He has exceeded expectations out of the leadoff spot for the Cubs, but would need to improve even more to have a realistic shot at making his first All-Star team.
On paper, it would not seem like Montero has much of a chance to make an All-Star team. His .261/.333/.478 slash line isn’t eye-popping, but catching is a thin position in baseball. Montero, a two-time All-Star, is tied with Buster Posey and the ageless A.J. Pierzynski for the most home runs for NL catchers — with a whopping three dingers.
Posey figures to run away with the starting honor but don’t count out Montero earning a bench spot on the team if or when Pierzynski turns off cheat codes this season.
Then you have Jorge Soler, who has raw talent out of his world, but is struggling to put it all together. The 23-year-old Cuban defector started off well this season but has severely struggled in the last week. With only two hits in his last 22 at-bats, Soler’s batting average has plummeted to .247 behind 33 strikeouts to start off the year – nine more than his debut last season.
Certainly not All-Star numbers, but a benefit of the doubt has been extended to the rookie outfielder.
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His struggles have been attributed to the cold-weather conditions he has dealt with here in the early season. Once the weather heats up, Soler could as well. Still, he seems a year away from true All-Star consideration.
Bryant is a surprising inclusion considering this Friday’s game will be the two-week mark in the young slugger’s career. This means the powers that be in the MLB made this ballot early enough for La Stella to be included, but updated recently to squeeze in Bryant. In just 12 games, he is second on the team in RBI with 10 and his four doubles is tied for the most on the club.
Bryant’s gaudy .455 OBP is second to only Rizzo’s .478 on the Cubs. Suffice to say, ignoring his lack of home runs (which are sure to come soon), Bryant has lived up to expectations. He’s looking to become the first Cubs’ rookie to make the team since Geovany Soto and Kosuke Fukudome did back in 2008.
Looking at Bryant’s competition at third base, Matt Carpenter of the St. Louis Cardinals has reached base in all 20 games he has played so far this season. Colorado’s Nolan Arenado has also enjoyed an early-season breakout with the bat to complement his superb defense with three home runs, 13 RBI, .297 average and a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage.
Bryant has the hype to sneak into the All-Star game, which would be quite the coup for a guy in his rookie season, but he’ll have to start cracking some home runs for it to happen.
Castro and Rizzo are playing spectacularly in 2015 and assuming they can keep it up, both will be deserving All-Stars. Already a three-time All-Star, Castro is currently putting up better numbers than starting favorite Troy Tulowitzki, who is hitting .305 with two home runs and 10 RBI in 78 at-bats.
Only outfielder Matt Holliday of the St. Louis Cardinals has a better OBP (.506) than Rizzo in all of baseball — but he should make a solid push for the starting first base spot on the N.L.team.
The Cubs had a ridiculous eight All-Stars in 2008, so it seems unlikely they would match that number here in 2015. Keep in mind, managers choose the pitching All-Stars — an honor Jake Arrieta seems poised to earn this summer. Still, it’s pretty fun to have so many players deserving of consideration as the Cubs close the book on their first winning April in seven years.
Fans can vote now by visiting MLB’s website — for the first time ever, there will be no paper ballots available — as well as texting “VOTE” to 89269 to receive the ballot on their phones. Voting will be held until 10:59 PM CST on Thursday, July 2.