Catcher – Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals
I thought about putting Sandy Leon here given that he enters the day batting 1.000, but I figured 5 at-bats wasn’t enough of a sample size. Actually, only two AL catchers have enough plate appearances so far this season to qualify in the batting race, one of whom is Perez, who leads that shallow group with a .276 average.
Perez is actually the easy pick in an underwhelming group of backstops. The three-time All-Star remains an elite defensive catcher and currently owns a .791 OPS that is higher than what he produced in any of his previous All-Star seasons.
First Base – Eric Hosmer, Kansas City Royals
What, did Royals fans hijack my ballot? Nope, turns out the defending World Series Champions just happen to have two deserving starters (but only two, let’s not get carried away).
This was a close call between Hosmer and Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera. So far this season, Cabrera’s 1.8 WAR has a slight edge over Hosmer’s (1.6 WAR), but the Royals first baseman has the edge in batting average and OPS. They entered the day tied in home runs and extra-base hits, with Hosmer leading in RBI by two. These two could easily swap spots over the next few weeks, but at the moment, Hosmer leads by a hair.
Second Base – Jose Altuve, Houston Astros
The diminutive second baseman is headed for his fourth career All-Star appearance with perhaps his best season. Altuve is second in the league with a 3.4 WAR and first with 18 steals. Speed has always been a part of his game, but he is showing a bit more pop in his bat this season. He already has 10 home runs, putting him on a base to obliterate the career-high of 15 that he hit last year.
Shortstop – Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox
The 23-year old isn’t merely about to make his first All-Star appearance, he’s officially reached superstar status. Bogaerts leads the league with a 3.6 WAR and has a sizable lead in the batting title race with a .358 average. If Bogaerts finishes the season with that average, he’ll equal Alex Rodriguez‘s 1996 season for the second highest batting average by a shortstop in the past 50 years, trailing only Nomar Garciaparra‘s 2000 season when he hit a ridiculous .372 for the Red Sox.
Third Base – Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles
Now here is where it gets complicated. While Machado has spent the bulk of his career at the hot corner, he has nearly double the number of appearances at shortstop this season. Bogaerts is clearly deserving of the starting shortstop spot, but Machado is having too good of a season not to be a starter. He’s third in the league with a 3.3 WAR and has every other third baseman in the league beat in nearly every category.
Reigning MVP Josh Donaldson is having another fine season, but not as great as the one Machado is having.