It isn't exactly way too early to make All-Star-team picks anymore -- we went through that exercise in February -- but there's still some time for players to make their way into starting lineups or play into the reserves. As of Wednesday, most of the positional races were pretty close.
With that in mind, we put together our still-too-early All-Star picks for the entire rosters of the American and National League squads.
My general philosophy is to emphasize what has happened in 2017 but consider what a player has done in the past, or you get stuck with too many mediocre All-Stars who simply had six good weeks. It's not a lifetime achievement honor, however; there will be no Albert Pujols here.
Note a couple of changes to the selection process this season. Rosters have been trimmed from 34 players to 32, with 20 position players and 12 pitchers. Fans will still select the starting position players, and players will pick the backups and some of the pitching staff, but the commissioner's office will select the remaining reserves instead of the manager. The game itself, which is in Miami, will no longer determine home-field advantage for the World Series. Players on the winning team will receive a $20,000 bonus.
On to the rosters.
American League starting lineup
Not too many difficult choices here. You can flip a coin between Francisco Lindor and Carlos Correa at shortstop, and it's possible Correa edges Lindor by July. Miguel Cabrera is off to a slow start and missed time on the DL, but first base in the AL is pretty weak, with only Yonder Alonso having a truly All-Star type of season. Still, it's silly to think Alonso deserves to start over Cabrera. Third base has been a loaded position in recent seasons, but injuries to Josh Donaldson and Adrian Beltre on top of Manny Machado's poor start opens the starting position for Miguel Sano, who is putting up big numbers even though he's on pace to strike out nearly 250 times.
Aaron Judge has been perhaps the big story of the first half, and given Mike Trout's injury, he's an MVP candidate if he keeps it going. Corey Dickerson has been one of the best hitters in the league, but Nelson Cruz gets the DH nod based on track record. With 110 strikeouts in 78 innings, Chris Sale has been everything the Red Sox expected and could earn his second straight All-Star start.
Missed the cut: Carlos Correa, Yonder Alonso, Jose Ramirez
National League starting lineup
Wow, what a power-packed, star-studded lineup. Can these guys just play the whole game? I thought these were pretty straightforward choices as well. Sure, you can make an argument for Nolan Arenado at third base, and I went with Giancarlo Stanton over Michael Conforto or teammate Marcell Ozuna to give Marlins fans their hometown hero in the starting lineup. Joey Votto also gets the nod at DH over Ryan Zimmerman, based on a more recent track record of sustained excellence compared to Zimmerman's one hot month. Clayton Kershaw? He's still the best.
Missed the cut: Ryan Zimmerman, Nolan Arenado, Marcell Ozuna, Michael Conforto
American League reserves
This is where it gets tougher. The AL is limited to just two free selections here because it also carries a backup DH. Teams also usually carry three catchers, so the two free picks were Xander Bogaerts and Gary Sanchez (in a very weak group of catchers). Alonso is the clear choice as the backup first baseman and the only A’s representative. Robinson Cano is having another strong season at a traditionally deep position that hasn't been as deep this year because of slow starts by Brian Dozier, Ian Kinsler and Dustin Pedroia. Jose Ramirez slides in on merit as I take him over Machado. Dickerson is the clear choice as backup DH.
Where it gets difficult is in the outfield, a pretty weak position in the AL. I just couldn't bring myself to think of Avisail Garcia as an All-Star, despite his strong start. Sorry, White Sox fans. George Springer makes it on the strength of 13 home runs and good defense, and Jose Bautista has overcome a terrible start to put up respectable numbers. Plus, Bautista in the All-Star Game is fun.
I'm not sure I completely buy Steven Souza's start, but unlike Garcia, he has a strong walk rate that suggests he can sustain this production. I took him over Blue Jays defensive whiz Kevin Pillar, who is having a solid year at the plate. It would be fun to find a spot for Astros utility man Marwin Gonzalez, who continues to rake.
Just missed the cut: IF/OF Marwin Gonzalez, Astros; OF Kevin Pillar, Blue Jays; 2B Starlin Castro, Yankees; SS Andrelton Simmons, Angels (if Trout doesn't meet your requirement to give the Angels a rep, then Simmons is the guy); OF Avisail Garcia, White Sox; OF Aaron Hicks, Yankees.
American League pitching staff
Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers have been the best 1-2 punch in the league and have carried the Astros to the league's best record. Some of the advanced metrics might not like Ervin Santana's mediocre strikeout rate, but there's some evidence that he has limited hard contact, and you can't ignore that 1.75 ERA and five scoreless outings. Yu Darvish makes it on merit and star power and also is my only Rangers rep. Dylan Bundy is the only Oriole on the team, and Carlos Carrasco gets my final starting pitcher nod over Michael Fulmer and Chris Archer.
In the bullpen, Aroldis Chapman currently is injured and hasn't pitched many innings, so he's left off the team. Roberto Osuna has a good case, and I hated leaving off Chris Devenski. Tommy Kahnle has been dominant in a setup role for the White Sox, but I went with the more established David Robertson, who is having a good season.
Just missed the cut: SP Michael Fulmer, Tigers; SP Marcus Stroman, Blue Jays; SP Chris Archer, Rays; SP Jason Vargas, Royals; RP Chris Devenski, Astros; RP Roberto Osuna, Blue Jays; RP Tommy Kahnle, White Sox.
National League reserves
Because the NL doesn't have a DH position, it gets more free selections than the AL. Yasmani Grandal is the second-best catcher in the NL, and I'll go with J.T. Realmuto over Yadier Molina as the third catcher to make the hometown fans happy. First base in the NL is absolutely loaded and could get really crowded if Anthony Rizzo and Matt Carpenter raise their numbers in June. For now, Zimmerman and Eric Thames are locks, with Thames as my only Brewers All-Star. There isn't a clear No. 2 second baseman, so I’ll go with Josh Harrison, who ends up as my only Pirates rep.
Jake Lamb got squeezed out of an All-Star spot last year despite a monster first half, and he's tearing it up again. Zack Cozart actually is tied for the NL lead in WAR among position players (with the injured Freddie Freeman), so he has to make it (and with Addison Russell and Trea Turner struggling at the plate, Cozart lacks competition anyway). Conforto and Ozuna have huge numbers, and Aaron Altherr represents the Phillies, as he has had an outstanding two months.
National League pitching staff
Picking the NL pitching staff has been an impossible task lately, but Noah Syndergaard's injury plus some slow starts from usual All-Star candidates such as Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta made this a pretty easy group to go with.
The one regret is Ivan Nova of the Pirates, but I went with the much more dynamic Robbie Ray, who is currently on a streak of 23 2/3 scoreless innings. Alex Wood has been lights out for the Dodgers, and if he returns from his DL stint –- he's expected to miss only one start -– and continues to roll, he'll be tough to leave off as well.
I'll take that bullpen. Wade Davis and Raisel Iglesias have sub-1.00 ERAs, Greg Holland has been perfect in saves chances, and Kenley Jansen is more dominant than ever with 35 K's and no walks in 20 innings. Brad Hand is the Padres' All-Star, but he has been dominant for two seasons running now. One guy hard to leave off is Corey Knebel of the Brewers. He has taken over as closer while averaging more than 15 K's per nine.
Missed the cut: SP Ivan Nova, Pirates; SP Carlos Martinez, Cardinals; RP Corey Knebel, Brewers.