2022 MLB All-Star Game: Starters according to fWAR

Atlanta Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson (7) gestures toward the outfield as he crosses the plate after hitting a three-run home run during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds, Friday, July 1, 2022, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. The Atlanta Braves won, 9-1.Atlanta Braves At Cincinnati Reds July 1 0035
Atlanta Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson (7) gestures toward the outfield as he crosses the plate after hitting a three-run home run during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds, Friday, July 1, 2022, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. The Atlanta Braves won, 9-1.Atlanta Braves At Cincinnati Reds July 1 0035 /
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The last ballots have been cast and the starters have been announced for the 2022 MLB All-Star game, scheduled at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday, July 19.

The fan vote has long been used to determine the starting lineups for each league. Now the players ballots, along with the MLB Commissioner’s Office, will be selecting the starting pitcher, reserve position players, and remaining pitching roster for each league. The fan vote is a good way to select players in that the fans get to see the most popular players compete in the game. The downside to the fan vote is that many times players that are more deserving of the starting position based solely on their performance during the first half of the current season may be reserves, while a more popular player with inferior results could get the nod.

With that in mind, what would the MLB All-Star Game starting lineups for each league look like if they were determined solely based on fWAR (FanGraphs WAR) and not on fan voting?

This is a preposterous idea that will never come to pass, you might be thinking. Well, in fact, within the newly agreed upon CBA, there is a part of the money pool for top pre-arbitration players that is going to be paid out based on a version of WAR. It has yet to be determined what MLB’s variation of WAR will look like, but it’s not too far of a reach to think that the All-Star Game starters could someday be selected based on WAR as well.

The fWAR numbers that were used in this exercise to select the All-Star Game starters are based on games played through Thursday, July 7.

National League: All-Star starters based on fWAR

C – Wilson Contreras – 2.9 fWAR – Chicago Cubs

Contreras is having a career year in 2022. He is slashing at .274/.392/.498 and has a 151 wRC+. From a fWAR perspective, the catcher has already outpaced his season totals in fWAR in each of his previous six seasons. In what has been a frustrating year for the Cubs, Contreras has stood above the fray. Wilson has accounted for 28.7% of the entire clubs fWAR so far this season.

1B – Paul Goldschmidt – 4.4 fWAR – St. Louis Cardinals

Goldschmidt has been living up to his nickname Goldy for quite some time, and this year has been even better than previous years. Goldy is slashing an amazing .342/.427/.619 and has a 194 wRC+. He is currently tied for the MLB lead in fWAR with fellow National Leaguer Manny Machado and American Leaguer Rafael Devers. Goldschmidt just goes about his business and produces day in and day out. He isn’t flashy, but he is one of the best players in the league and, as the All-Star break gets close, has put himself in the middle of the NL MVP conversation.

2B – Tommy Edman – 3.4 fWAR – St. Louis Cardinals

Edman is a defense-first, slick-fielding second baseman who can hit. Slashing .261/.329/.380 with 106 wRC+, Edman is right on target with his young career average results at the plate. The thing that sets Edman apart is his glove. Last year, which was his third season (and first full 162-game season), he took home some hardware by winning a Gold Glove. This year, Edman is continuing to make all of the plays. Through 397 innings on defensive, he has made zero fielding errors and only two throwing errors.

SS – Dansby Swanson – 4.0 fWAR – Atlanta Braves

The first pick of the 2015 draft is playing up to that 1:1 selection spot for the first time this year. In previous seasons, Swanson has been a solid shortstop who just hadn’t quite lived up to the hype. This year, he is hitting .298/.355/.492 and has a 135 wRC+. Swanson’s 4.0 fWAR is greater than any of his previous six seasons. Swanson is set to be a free agent at the end of the season, so he picked a great time to shine. Not only will Swanson get paid handsomely through a new contract at the end of the season, but it is also just plain fun to have a guy named Dansby doing so well.

3B – Manny Machado – 4.4 fWAR – San Diego Padres

Machado leads one of the tightest races in the fWAR starter contest, outpacing Nolan Arenado by 0.2 fWAR. The Baby Face Assassin turned 30 years old on July 6 and he is looking as solid as ever. With Fernando Tatis Jr. out due to an offseason injury, Machado has stepped up his game and is helping lead the Friars to a solid start. Machado already has a higher fWAR (4.4) than he did last year (4.2). He has a hitting line of .315/.387/.533 and a 157 wRC+.

OF – Mookie Betts – 3.7 fWAR – Los Angeles Dodgers

As one of the best and most popular players of his generation, Mookie Betts is having another stellar year. Despite missing 15 games recently with a cracked rib that he sustained on a collision with teammate Cody Bellinger, Betts leads all National League outfielders in fWAR. Slashing .277/.354/.561 and having a wRC+ of 156, Betts is again making Dodgers fans happy and Red Sox fans cry. While only playing in 65 games, Betts has slugged 20 homers which puts him on pace to eclipse his previous season record of 32 home runs that he hit for the Red Sox in 2018.

OF – Brandon Nimmo – 2.8 fWAR – New York Mets

Casual fans may not have heard much about Nimmo. He is the sparkplug, leadoff-hitting, center fielder for the NL East-leading New York Mets. Nimmo isn’t someone that just burst on to the scene this year, he has been a solid player over his, going on seven-year career. He was drafted in the first round (13th pick) in the 2011 draft by the Mets. Nimmo isn’t a superstar, but he is a great player. He currently leads the NL and is tied for the MLB lead in triples with five. The only time he ever led a statical category was in 2018 he outpaced all of MLB with 22 HBP. Wonder if he was a sore winner?

OF – Kyle Schwarber – 2.3 fWAR – Philadelphia Phillies

Schwarber is a baseball mashing machine this year. His 27 homers is tops in the NL and second in MLB only to Aaron Judge’s 30. fWAR usually isn’t a great stat for Schwarber because he is such a terrible defender and has a high strikeout rate and lowish batting average. This year, however, he has been slugging at such a high clip (.535) that it has helped offset some of his weaker numbers. Perhaps the staff at FanGraphs gave Schwarber a bump in his fWAR this season for going off on Angel Hernandez on April 24 on Sunday Night Baseball. He simply did what so many of us have wanted to do over the years with Hernandez behind the plate.

DH – Garrett Cooper – 1.8 fWAR – Miami Marlins

Cooper has the lowest fWAR of anyone to make the starting lineup for either league. If it wasn’t for Bryce Harper’s (2.7 fWAR) broken thumb, Cooper wouldn’t have made this list at all. But with Harper out for several more weeks, Coopaloop gets the nod. It’s not like Cooper is having a bad year though. He is hitting .308/.373/.462 and has a 138 wRC+.

P – Sandy Alcantara – 3.4 fWAR – Miami Marlins

In a world where solid starting pitching is rare, Sandy Alcantara is a must watch when he takes the mound. The powerful righty has electric stuff and has been compiling impressive numbers all season, despite pitching in the tough NL East for a team that is currently three games under .500. Alcantara is 9-3, with a 1.82 ERA, 2.85 FIP, 0.91 WHIP, 0.4 HR/9, and opponents are hitting a dismal .189 against him. When most teams are looking to get their starter out of the game after a couple times through the batting order, Alcantara has two complete games to his credit this year.