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The American League WAR All-Star Team

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If you eliminated the fans and players picking the teams, what would the American League All-Star team look like using WAR?

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

With the official American League All-Star rosters soon to be announced, it’s always fun to compare WAR leaders, and the players voted in to represent the league. By now, we are well aware of how fans are gaming the system to choose the starters. Then players choose their comrades on who is deserving of the honor and manager Ned Yost will select the rest.

These criteria's are not going to pick a perfect team to represent the league. Given the restriction that each team must have a player represent them is a major hurdle and always keeps a deserving player home. As an exercise, I've worked out what the American League all-star roster would look like using bWAR (baseball-reference).

Starters, each player that has the highest bWAR is on the All-Star team regardless of position.

AL East Player WAR Position
Baltimore Manny Machado 4.0 3B/SS
Boston Jackie Bradley Jr. 3.6 CF
Toronto Josh Donaldson 4.8 3B
NY Yankees Masahiro Tanaka 2.6 SP
Tampa Logan Forsythe 2.4 2B
AL Central
Cleveland Danny Salazar 4 SP
Kansas City Salvador Perez 2.4 C
Detroit Michael Fulmer 3.1 SP
Chicago Adam Eaton 3.5 RF
Minnesota Brian Dozier 1.8 2B
AL West
Texas Ian Desmond 3.5 OF
Houston Jose Altuve 4.7 2B
Seattle Robinson Cano 3.6 2B
LA Angels Mike Trout 5.2 CF
Oakland Rich Hill 2.7 SP

Now, the starters instead of being determined by fans we just take the bWAR leader for each position.

Position Player WAR Team
C Salvador Perez 2.4 Kansas City
1B Chris Davis 2.5 Baltimore
2B Jose Altuve 4.7 Houston
3B Josh Donaldson 4.8 Toronto
SS Manny Machado 4.0 Baltimore
OF Mike Trout 5.2 LA Angels
OF Jackie Bradley Jr. 3.6 Boston
OF Ian Desmond 3.5 Texas

Eight starters are the top WAR players for their respective teams, with only Chris Davis being the top player for his position, but not on his team. A notable exception is David Ortiz not listed as a starter, but that is because the game is being played in a National League park this year. A big shock is to see Cleveland's Danny Salazar as the Starting Pitcher over Chicago's Chris Sale. Despite leading the league in wins (14), complete games (3), and innings pitched (120), Sale's bWAR is 3.3 compared to Salazar's 4.1 bWAR. ERA is a significant factor as Salazar leads the league with a 2.36 and has an ERA+ 196 versus Sale's 2.92 ERA and 139 ERA+.

The most difficult part of completing the roster is determining who makes up the bench. Seeing as how it would be wonderful to use players who play the position instead using the top players and put them wherever on the field. Below are the second best players for each position, except David Ortiz, who is the best designated hitter.

Bench Player Team
C Sandy Leon Boston
1B Miguel Cabrera Detroit
2B Robinson Cano Seattle
3B Kyle Seager Seattle
SS Francisco Lindor Cleveland
OF George Springer Houston
OF Adam Eaton Chicago
OF Mookie Betts Boston
DH David Ortiz Boston

Sandy Leon currently has a  1.1 bWAR that edges out the 1.0 bWAR of Brian McCann and Stephen Vogt. As for the remaining bench players, I selected the best players available by bWAR and had to include the best players from Tampa Bay and Minnesota.

C Brian McCann New York
2B Ian Kinsler Detroit
2B Logan Forsythe Tampa Bay
2B Brian Dozier Minnesota
3B Adrian Beltre Texas
SS Xander Bogaerts Boston

Having five second basemen is a bit much, but Ian Kinsler should be all-star as he is worth 3.0 bWAR and using the best players from each team criteria we have to include Forsythe and Dozier.

For the pitching staff, it will fill out like this:

SP Chris Sale 3.3 Chicago
SP Michael Fulmer 3.2 Detroit
SP Jose Quintana 2.9 Chicago
SP Masahiro Tanaka 2.6 NY Yankees
SP Rich Hill 2.7 Oakland
RP Brad Brach 2.5 Baltimore
RP Will Harris 2.0 Houston
RP Zach Britton 1.8 Baltimore
RP Andrew Miller 1.7 NY Yankees
RP Kelvin Herrera 1.6 Kansas City

Here is where taking the player with the best bWAR from each team excludes a better player. Masahiro Tanaka is having an excellent season, but Trevor Bauer (2.9 bWAR) Cole Hamels, Aaron Sanchez, and Marco Estrada are having a better one (2.8 bWAR). However,  each team should have their best player on the roster regardless of position, even though the Yankees have Andrew Miller and Brian McCann, Tanaka still makes the team.

That's the 34-man roster, but fans do get to select the "Final Man" which will be the 35th player on the team. Here are the best remaining players who didn't make the initial cut.

Team Player WAR
Boston Dustin Pedroia 2.9
Cleveland Trevor Bauer 2.9
Texas Cole Hamels 2.8
Toronto Aaron Sanchez 2.8
Houston Carlos Correa 2.5