Not Getting Their Due: 26 Players Who Could Have Been First-Time All-Stars
Making an all-star team is one of the highest individual accomplishments for any player. For young players in particular, it’s a sign they’ve finally arrived as impact major leaguers—the goal of every prospect and young player as they rise through the ranks.
This year’s All-Star Game was a casualty of the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting abbreviated season. For many players, it means their first all-star selection will be delayed at least a year—if not longer.
Still, many players have delivered all-star worthy performances through the first half of the abbreviated season. Here is a look at the top 26 players —13 former top prospects and 13 less heralded players — who would have been in contention for their first career all-star selections had there been an All-Star Game this season.
All statistics are through Aug. 25.
FORMER TOP 100 PROSPECTS
Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, Padres
Tatis has lived up to the lofty expectations that made him the No. 2 overall prospect in 2018—and then some. The dynamic 21-year-old shortstop leads the majors in runs, home runs, total bases and RBIs and has established himself as arguably the most exciting player in baseball.
Willy Adames, SS, Rays
Adames has blossomed in his third year in the majors after checking in at No. 19 on the BA Top 100 entering 2018. The 24-year-old shortstop hit .293/.381/.533 with 11 doubles through 29 games and ranks second on the first-place Rays with a .914 OPS
Dansby Swanson, SS, Braves
The long-awaited Swanson offensive breakout appears to have finally come to fruition. The No. 1 overall pick in 2015 has hit .319/.353/.487 with 10 doubles, making him an offensive threat to go with his stellar shortstop defense.
Dominic Smith, OF, Mets
Smith began his breakout a year ago and has carried it over into 2020. Smith, who ranked as the No. 71 prospect on the BA Top 100 entering 2017, has 10 doubles and six home runs in just 22 games and would rank first in the National League with a 1.161 OPS if he had enough plate appearances to qualify.
Ian Happ, OF, Cubs
The addition of the DH in the National League has finally given Happ an opening in the outfield for consistent, everyday playing time, and he’s taken full advantage. The No. 63 prospect on the BA Top 100 entering 2017, Happ ranks 11th in the NL with a .961 OPS and has taken over as the Cubs' everyday center fielder.
Eloy Jimenez, OF, White Sox
Jimenez hit 31 home runs as a rookie last year even as he battled through injuries. Now healthy, the No. 3 prospect entering last season has shown his immense offensive potential. The 23-year-old slugger ranks in the top 10 in the American League in hits, home runs, total bases and slugging percentage, more than enough offense to make up for his net-related misadventures in left field.
Kyle Lewis, OF, Mariners
The 2016 BA College Player of the Year had a long road back from a catastrophic knee injury and has been one of the stories as the year. The two-time Top 100 prospect ranks second in the American League with a .360 batting average and .446 on-base percentage and is in the top five in hits, runs and OPS, and all the while is playing a highlight-reel center field.
Max Fried, LHP, Braves
Fried has developed into the lefthanded ace envisioned when he was the No. 7 overall pick in the 2012 draft and a three-time Top 100 prospect. The 26-year-old is 4-0, 1.32—the lowest ERA in the majors—and has been the one constant in a Braves rotation that has otherwise been decimated.
Dylan Bundy, RHP, Angels
Bundy ranked as the No. 2 prospect entering 2013 but was sidelined by injuries and poor defense behind him in Baltimore. Given a fresh start with the Angels, he’s dominating with his offspeed pitches and ranks fifth in the American League in strikeouts (44) and sixth in ERA (2.58).
Jesse Winker, OF, Reds
The talented but injury-prone Winker has gotten the bulk of the starts at DH for the Reds and flourished. The 2012 supplemental first-round pick and three-time Top 100 prospect ranks fifth in the National League with a .426 on-base percentage and 1.010 OPS.
Luis Robert, OF, White Sox
The No. 3 prospect entering the season has had some ups and downs, but he continues to provide big power and impressive defense in center field. The 23-year-old has seven doubles, seven homers and an .895 OPS through 28 games, enough to overcome his 36 percent strikeout rate thus far.
Alex Verdugo, OF, Red Sox
Verdugo, the No. 35 prospect entering 2019, is flourishing with everyday playing time in Boston after coming over from the Dodgers in the Mookie Betts trade. The 24-year-old leads all qualified Red Sox hitters with a .908 OPS and has been a capable defender in both outfield corners.
Randal Grichuk, OF, Blue Jays
While not officially a former Top 100 prospect, Grichuck was a first-round pick in 2009 and three-time Top 10 prospect in his various organizations. After combining lots of power with loads of strikeouts for the bulk of his career, Grichuk is making more contact than ever and has hit .302/.343/.573 with seven home runs in 24 games.
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UNDERRATED PROSPECTS/LATE BLOOMERS
Mike Yastrzemski, OF, Giants
The 30-year-old has done more than show his surprise 2019 breakout was not a fluke—he’s become one of the best players in the game. Yastrzemski leads the National League in extra-base hits as well as walks, is second in runs scored and ranks third in total bases—all while playing his home games at cavernous Oracle Park. His 1.9 wins above replacement is third highest in the National League, trailing only Mookie Betts and Fernando Tatis Jr.
Luke Voit, 1B, Yankees
The hulking Missourian has 10 home runs in 21 games to help supply the power with Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton on the injured list. The 29-year-old leads the majors with a 1.115 OPS and has reiterated his status as Bronx Bomber to be feared.
Teoscar Hernandez, OF, Blue Jays
Hernandez has taken his power up a notch after back-to-back 20-home run seasons, hitting 11 home runs in just 28 games to rank tied for second in the majors. The 27-year-old also ranks in the top 10 in the American League in total bases and has been one of the league's premier power threats early.
David Fletcher, SS, Angels
The Orange County product has evolved from a novelty to an unheralded star in Anaheim. Fletcher, 26, leads the American League in hits and has become fixture of nightly highlight-reels at shortstop, making Andrelton Simmons a trade candidate and solidifying himself as the Angels’ shortstop of the future.
Aaron Civale, RHP, Indians
Civale has followed his 2016 draft classmate Shane Bieber as a control-oriented righthander who flourished under the Indians' pitching development. With five pitches he can throw for strikes at any time, Civale has the lowest walk rate (0.9 per nine innings) in the majors and a 40-to-4 strikeout-to-walk mark in 40 innings.
Zac Gallen, RHP, D-backs
Gallen has quietly dominated since the moment he entered the majors last season. The 25-year-old has a 2.25 ERA through six starts this season with 42 strikeouts against just 12 walks in 36 innings. He now has a 2.64 career ERA through 21 starts.
Pedro Severino, C, Orioles
The one-time Top 10 prospect in the Nationals system has found his footing with their Beltway Series rival. Severino ranks third in the American League with a .333 batting average and ninth with a .981 OPS, both by far the best numbers among league catchers.
Robbie Grossman, OF, Athletics
The longtime reserve outfielder altered his leg kick and has become an on-base machine in Oakland. The 30-year-old ranks fifth in the American League with a .416 on-base percentage and 10th with a .966 OPS, helping the A’s take control of the AL West through the midpoint of the season.
Anthony Santander, OF, Orioles
The major league leader in extra-base hits is not Tatis or Betts or Mike Trout, but Anthony Santander. Santander’s 22 extra-base hits in 29 games have made him one of the most impactful hitters in baseball, and he ranks in the top 10 in virtually every offensive category in the American League.
Donovan Solano, 2B, Giants
Like his Giants teammate Yastrzemski, "Donnie Barrels" began his breakout last season and has carried it into 2020. After batting .330 in 81 games a year ago, Solano ranks fourth in the majors with a .351 average this season.
Randy Dobnak, RHP, Twins
The feel-good story of 2019 has been a revelation in 2020. Dobnak is 5-1, 1.78—the third-lowest ERA in the American League—through six starts and has kept the ball on the ground to effectively make up for his lack of strikeouts.
Pablo Lopez, RHP, Marlins
Lopez has been a rock of stability in the Marlins’ chaotic season. The 24-year-old ranks sixth in the National League with a 1.98 ERA and has been a savior for their depleted pitching staff, completing at least five innings in every start this season while never allowing more than two earned runs.
Framber Valdez, LHP, Astros
Valdez has ascended to Houston's rotation and given the Astros a promising young lefty for the future. The 26-year-old ranks fifth in the American League with a 2.35 ERA and tied for seventh with 40 strikeouts, all while allowing just nine walks in 40 innings.