Filling out an AL All-Star team ballot

Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado is a leading MVP candidate, and Chris Sale has been lights-out on the mound. Getty Images

Remember my rules for selecting an All-Star team: It's the All-STAR Game, so I'm looking at guys who have played well in 2016 but also have a track record of success.

I want stars, not guys who have had six good weeks.

I'll follow the general guidelines for selecting a team: 34 players, one rep for each team and a breakdown of 21 position players and 13 pitchers. In the American League, they also choose two DHs, which is kind of dumb considering many teams don't employ a full-time DH, but at least there are decent candidates this year.

My team

C -- Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals: An easy choice in an otherwise uninspiring group of backstops. He's actually having his best season in years, with an OBP over .300 and a slugging percentage close to .500. Can we just select Perez and let him play the entire game?

1B -- Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers: Still the best. After a slow start, he hit .333/.415/.618 in May. Don't be surprised if he's chasing another batting title come September. Kudos to Eric Hosmer for turning up his power game this year and putting together his best season at the plate.

2B -- Jose Altuve, Houston Astros: It's a loaded group of second basemen in the AL with four players already above 2.0 WAR (and Logan Forsythe would be there if he hadn't been injured). Still, Altuve is the easy starter as he ranks third in the AL in WAR behind Manny Machado and Mike Trout. One big area of improvement: He has more walks than K's (he's already close to his 2015 walk total of 33), boosting his OBP over .400. Throw in his early power surge, 15 stolen bases and solid D, and he gets the nod over Robinson Cano and his big RBI total.

SS -- Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles: He'll move back to third base once J.J. Hardy returns, but as of now he has played more games at shortstop. Yes, it's looking as if we have to put him alongside Trout and maybe Bryce Harper -- and if he remains at shortstop, we might have to move him to the very top. With apologies to Xander Bogaerts, who is having a monster season for the Red Sox.

3B -- Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays: I mean, I guess you can put Machado here and start Bogaerts at shortstop if you want, but it's not as if Donaldson is Shea Hillenbrand. This is the reigning AL MVP we're talking about and his 2.2 WAR is third among third basemen.

OF -- Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels: He had one home run in his first 15 games, but here we are at the beginning of June and Trout is once again an MVP candidate, hitting over .300 and on pace for more than 100 runs and 100 RBIs. Machado might be the MVP favorite at this time, but that's in part -- once again -- because Trout's teammates aren't as good.

OF -- George Springer, Astros: He's not perfect -- he strikes out a ton and he has been caught stealing too many times -- but he's a superb all-around player with power, on-base ability and plus defense. Don't blame him for the Astros' slow start.

OF -- Jackie Bradley Jr., Boston Red Sox: I know this ignores my rule about track record, but he has been so good that I'd make him the starter right now. In a month, however, it's possible that teammate Mookie Betts will pass him, especially if Betts keeps hitting home runs as he did on Tuesday when he belted three, and on Wednesday when he hit two more. Adam Eaton of the White Sox has the slight edge over both in WAR, but that's based on some gaudy defensive numbers that I'm not completely buying just yet, and I'd consider Jose Bautista if he was having a little better season.

DH -- David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox: Certainly not a "let's put him on the team because it's his final season" kind of thing. His numbers are like peak Ted Williams or something: .335/.416/.716, on pace for 72 doubles. Incredible.

SP -- Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox: Yes, the 9-1 mark is pretty, but the 2.29 ERA and sub-1.00 WHIP are why he should start. His pitch-to-contact approach this year with better pitch efficiency has led to a lower K rate, but you can't argue the results.

On the bench: Position players

C -- Brian McCann, New York Yankees.

1B -- Eric Hosmer, Royals.

1B -- Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins.

2B -- Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners.

2B -- Ian Kinsler, Tigers.

SS -- Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox.

SS -- Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians.

3B -- Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers.

OF -- Adam Eaton, White Sox.

OF -- Mookie Betts, Red Sox.

OF -- Jose Bautista, Blue Jays.

DH -- Victor Martinez, Detroit Tigers.

I refuse to pick a third catcher with so many other strong candidates to choose from at other positions. I couldn't find room for Dustin Pedroia, Travis Shaw, Kyle Seager, Mark Trumbo and Nick Castellanos -- all of whom merit consideration. Beltre gets the nod at third base over Shaw, Seager and Castellanos, in part because he's Adrian Beltre and the others aren't. (He's behind Shaw and Seager in WAR, and well ahead of Castellanos, who takes a big defensive hit.) The Twins are the team without a strong All-Star candidate, even more so than the cellar dwellers in the NL, so Mauer gets a spot over Miguel Sano.

On the bench: Pitchers

SP -- Jose Quintana, White Sox.

SP -- Masahiro Tanaka, Yankees.

SP -- Rich Hill, Oakland Athletics.

SP -- Marco Estrada, Blue Jays.

SP -- Danny Salazar, Indians.

SP -- Chris Tillman, Orioles.

SP -- Cole Hamels, Rangers.

SP -- Chris Archer, Tampa Bay Rays.

RP -- Wade Davis, Royals.

RP -- Zach Britton, Orioles.

RP -- Andrew Miller, Yankees.

RP -- Dellin Betances, Yankees.

RP -- Kelvin Herrera, Royals.

Well, the Rays don't really have a strong All-Star candidate either, which is why Archer makes the team. What, you want Erasmo Ramirez? I'd put Kevin Kiermaier on the team, but he's currently on the DL, or you can throw Alex Colome on there if you like guys who have had 20 good innings. The AL starting pitchers are a tough group as some of the regular stalwarts aren't having strong seasons (Felix Hernandez, Dallas Keuchel, David Price). I considered Price, but in the end a 5.11 ERA is 5.11, even with great peripherals. Same thing with Corey Kluber and his 4.15 ERA. You could load up on relievers, but I do prefer honoring starting pitchers and their more difficult role.


Jose Altuve, 2B

Mike Trout, CF

Manny Machado, SS

David Ortiz, DH

Miguel Cabrera, 1B

Josh Donaldson, 3B

Jackie Bradley Jr., LF

George Springer, RF

Salvador Perez, C

Chris Sale, P