Who should you watch for during this year’s All-Star Game? We’ve got the 5 biggest stars right here – all of them (except Miggy) are young players, proving that the future of baseball is in some very talented hands!
5 – Josh Donaldson
Josh Donaldson is having a down year, but that’s only because his overall performance in 2013 made him an MVP candidate. In 2014, he’s merely an All-Star, and a very good one. Generally considered an excellent defensive third baseman, Donaldson also swings heavy lumber, and his power has actually risen since last season. He’s got 18 home runs already, and could challenge 30 by the time the season’s over. Often, it’s said that the Athletics are a team without a superstar. If someone ever says that to you, take note: they’re wrong. Josh Donaldson is a superstar, so long as he keeps up this level of production. He’s a very-slightly-less-rich-man’s Evan Longoria now.
4 – Miguel Cabrera
Yawn. Miguel Cabrera has rebounded from a terrifying end to his second consecutive MVP season (just don’t watch footage from September 2013, okay) to return to the upper echelon of MLB hitters. While he isn’t mashing quite like his previous several seasons, he’s still an offensive juggernaut and sits in the top-20 in FanGraphs wins above replacement (fWAR) among position players. Cabrera said in an interview on ESPN that the All Star selection means “a lot” and “it’s an exciting moment, to be part of something big, something you dreamed of as a kid.” It’s Cabrera’s fifth All-Star selection in seven seasons with the Tigers, his third All-Star start and second consecutive while playing two different positions. Last season, he started at third base. Cabrera is hitting .311 with 14 home runs and 67 RBIs. He ranks among the league leaders in all three categories but trails Martinez in two — average and home runs.
3 – Yasiel Puig
No one has swag like Puig. He’s following up on his unbelievable debut campaign by improving on almost every level. His baserunning is better, and more efficient. His walk rate (11.0%) is up and his strikeout rate (19.7%) is down. He’s already got 12 homers this season after 19 during all of last season. Only his defense is slipping from last season, despite staying far away from center field. It also doesn’t hurt that he has the attitude and charisma (and bat flips) that make him one of the most dynamic and polarizing characters in the game. He puts the “Star” in “All-Star”. There was a cry for Puig to make the All-Star team last year after his sensational start with the Dodgers, even though he’d been in the major leagues for barely a month. Puig is hitting .307 with 12 home runs, 50 RBIs and 50 runs.
2 – Mike Trout
Last year, Mike Trout was the best baseball player in the known galaxy. This year, he still is, despite the fact we know slightly more about the Milky Way. The Angels’ brightest star will shine on baseball’s biggest stage — again. For the third consecutive season, center fielder Mike Trout was named an American League All-Star, and he’ll be starting in the AL outfield. Trout, 22, will become the fourth AL outfielder to play in three All-Star Games before his 23rd birthday, joining Mickey Mantle, Ken Griffey Jr. and Al Kaline. Trout became the first Halos position player to start back-to-back All-Star Games since Vladimir Guerrero did it four straight times from 2004-07. Last season, Trout became the youngest player to start an All-Star Game since Ivan Rodriguez did it in 1993, and he is the youngest player in All-Star Game history with a hit, a walk and a stolen base.
1 – Clayton Kershaw
Well, he’s basically already considered baseball’s greatest living pitcher. Despite less than 80 innings of work, he’s posting unreal peripheral rates: 34.7% strikeouts and 3.6% walks building to a 1.48 FIP and a 2.04 ERA. Kershaw is 10-2 with a 1.85 ERA that would lead the majors if he had pitched enough innings to qualify (he’s short by only 1 2/3 innings). He has an 0.87 WHIP, 115 strikeouts and only 12 walks in 87 1/3 innings. Kershaw missed about six weeks early this season with a sore shoulder. Oh yeah, he also threw a no-hitter last month.