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What Could Have Been: 2020’s Best Of The Best All-Star Picks

This 2020 shortened season implemented a lot of changes in the traditions we typically see in baseball. One of these disappointing changes was the decision to not have a Midsummer Classic this year. 

The 2020 All-Star game was set to take place in Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium, leaving thousands of fans bummed that they would miss all the fun festivities, parades, and competitions that the event brings. Dodgers fans will now have to wait until 2022 to see the All-Star game at home, which is unfortunate as so many of their players would have easily made the cut this year.

We may not have gotten to see the best of the best of the AL and NL square off, but we did get to see some pretty impressive performances all shortened-season long. The postseason is less than 10 days away, so let’s take a look at what could have been the 2020 All-Star starting nine (plus relief pitchers) for the AL and the NL.

All statistics mentioned are updated to reflect the conclusion of Tuesday contests.

American League 

Catcher: Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals

After missing the entire 2019 season because of injury, Perez has come back swinging for the Royals. He holds an impressive .978 OPS and is batting a career-high .346. He has been flawless behind the plate with no errors in 28 starts.

First Baseman: José Abreu, Chicago White Sox

It is a very close call between three-time All-Star Abreu and the heavy-hitting Yankee, Luke Voit, but Abreu earns the start in my book. Voit has Abreu beat as the homerun leader, but Abreu has remained consistent all season with 74 hits and is leading the league with 56 RBI. 

Second Baseman: DJ LeMahieu, New York Yankees

LeMahieu has come in hot for the injury-battling Yankees this year, even after landing on the IL himself near the start of the season. He leads the MLB with a .356 BA and was integral in the Yankees’ recent 10-game winning streak. He upped his home run total to 10, contributing to the new team record of six-plus home runs in three consecutive games.

Elsa/Getty Images

Third Baseman: Anthony Rendon, Los Angeles Angels

The Angels signed Rendon to a seven-year, $245-million contract in December 2019, and he has not disappointed. He has delivered with 20 extra-base hits and has A’s Matt Chapman beat on both sides with a .897 OPS and .975 FPCT.

Shortstop: Tim Anderson, Chicago White Sox

Anderson continues to live up to his 2019 AL batting title, hitting .353 with 10 homers and a .970 OPS. He leads his team with 44 runs, helping the White Sox earn the top spot in the AL central.

Aaron Doster/AP Photo

Outfielders: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels; Teoscar Hernández, Toronto Blue Jays; Kyle Lewis, Mariners

Mike Trout continues to produce even during an “off” year, keeping his title as one of the best players in the game right now. He has driven in 43 runs for the Halos this season and was the first player to reach double digit home runs. He has since dropped to third with 16 home runs.

Hernández might not have gotten this nod if it was not for Yankees Aaron Judge’s slew of injuries, forcing him to miss most of the season. Battling a trip to the IL himself this season, Hernández matches Trout with 16 HR and has a .966 OPS. He will be a key factor for the Blue Jays if they are to make a postseason push. 

Lewis is a strong AL Rookie of the Year candidate for this shortened season. Not only has he been producing offensively, leading all other rookies in nearly every category, but his fielding also continues to improve as he maintains a .985 FPCT. His range and speed has led him to make some brilliant leaping plays in the outfield this season.

Getty Images

Designated Hitter: Nelson Cruz, Minesotta Twins

In a tight-competition season, the ageless Cruz is my pick for the starting DH in the AL lineup. With one of his highest career OPS numbers at 1.026, Cruz lives up to his nickname “Boomstick.” 

Starting Pitcher: Shane Bieber, Cleveland Indians

The dominating right-hander, who started the season with seven straight wins, gets the easy start for my AL All-Star team. He leads the MLB with a 1.74 ERA, eight wins, and is in the running for this year’s Cy Young Award.

Paul Sancya/AP Photo

Reliever: Liam Hendriks, Oakland Athletics

The Athletics closer was the best in the league last year, and has picked up right where he left off. Hendriks leads the MLB with 13 saves this season. He is 13/14 in save chances and maintains a 1.23 ERA with 32 strikeouts. 

National League

Catcher: Travis d’Arnaud, Atlanta Braves

d’Arnaud is posting a top-five batting average (.327) this 2020 season and leads all MLB catchers in RBI (34). He has commanded the first-place Braves team in the NL East from behind the plate.

First Baseman: Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves

Freeman swings his way to the starting role at first base on my NL All-Star list. Freeman has driven in the third most runs this season with 50. After a tough battle with COVID-19 during summer camp, the four-time All-Star bounced back with an impressive 1.106 OPS.

Mark Blinch/Getty Images

Second Baseman: Donovan Solano, San Francisco Giants

Giants fans have been loving seeing some much-needed energy in players like Solano this season. Solano is leading NL second basemen in hits with 58 and is the quiet Giants star no one was expecting.

Third Baseman: Manny Machado, San Diego Padres

The established star who had Padres fans nervous after a disappointing 2019 season and a slow start to 2020 has finally begun to find his groove in San Diego. Machado has 16 HRs, 47 RBI, and a .314 BA, helping the “Slam Diego Padres” give the Dodgers a run for their money in the NL West this season.

Shortstop: Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego Padres

When you are hot, you are hot. Tatis Jr. has lived up to this reputation after he controversially hit a Grand Slam on a 3-0 count earlier this season. There’s no denying Tatis Jr. has been one of the most exciting players to watch this season with 15 HR and a .930 OPS. The future looks bright for this young superstar, but it will be a nice test to see how he steps up to the plate to help his team this October.

Gregory Bull/AP Photo

Outfield: Mookie Betts, Los Angeles Dodgers; Juan Soto, Washington Nationals; Mike Yastrzemski, San Francisco Giants

Betts is the obvious stand-out outfielder this season, making some noise in his new home in Los Angeles. He leads the No. 1 team in baseball in multiple hitting categories with 62 hits, 16 HR, and 39 RBI. He also made some flashy plays this season in the field for LA. The Dodger’s took a risk signing Betts to a 13-year, $325-million contract extension, but he is proving to be a key player in their continued success.

Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG

More young and exciting talent is in Juan Soto. He has an OPS over 1.000 and has been crushing the ball for the Nationals in 2020. After missing the first seven games of the season, he has bounced back with 49 hits in just 42 games. It will be fun to see this 21-year-old rival Tatis Jr. as one of the best young players in the game for years to come.

Yastrzemski makes the cut for the third starting outfield spot, just beating out Phillies’ star Bryce Harper. Yastrzemski has been one of the most important pieces in the Giant’s surprising success. His average might be just below .300, but he makes up for it by contributing 51 hits and 33 RBI for San Francisco this season.

Designated Hitter: Jesse Winker, Cincinnati Reds

Winker struggled at first adjusting to the new rule of universal DH this season, but has since begun producing for the Reds. The odd man out in the Cincinnati’s starting outfield benefited from this new role. He has swung his way onto my list with 11 HR and a .918 OPS.

Starting Pitcher: Yu Darvish, Chicago Cubs

The competition is hot for the best NL starter this season, but my pick is Darvish from the first-place NL Central team, the Cubs. Darvish leads the NL with seven wins this season and also has an impressive 88 K/13 BB ratio. The dominating right-hander maintains a 2.22 ERA this season and would have been an exciting match-up against Shane Bieber in the All-Star game.

John Antonoff Photo

Reliever: Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers

This 2020 season we have honestly seen a lot of blown saves. Jansen leads the NL closers with 11 saves this season and 29 strikeouts. His 3.38 ERA might be a little higher than other closers this year, but he still remains dominant on the mound in the late innings for the first-place Dodgers. 

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Tori Apodaca View All

I am a part of the writing and marketing team at The Bullpen. I am excited to be a part of a team that is just as passionate about the game of baseball as I am. Currently, I am a senior studying broadcast journalism at Biola University. Growing up as an athlete, I am thrilled to have continued my career competing in softball in college at the NCAA DII level. Seeing the positive impact that sports has made in my own life, I desire to share the stories of other athletes. I have experience doing this as a freelance sports writer for my university's newspaper, The Chimes. I am also an experienced reporter with demonstrated history working in the broadcast media industry. Having served as the anchor and executive producer for my university's television news station and as a production assistant intern with LA Channel 36, I have developed skills in growing my on-air presence and behind-the-scenes work. I plan on continuing my career as a local news reporter or sports broadcaster.

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