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.
|Boston||Jackie Bradley Jr.||3.6||CF|
|NY Yankees||Masahiro Tanaka||2.6||SP|
|Kansas City||Salvador Perez||2.4||C|
|LA Angels||Mike Trout||5.2||CF|
Now, the starters instead of being determined by fans we just take the bWAR leader for each position.
|C||Salvador Perez||2.4||Kansas City|
|OF||Mike Trout||5.2||LA Angels|
|OF||Jackie Bradley Jr.||3.6||Boston|
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.
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||Logan Forsythe||Tampa Bay|
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||Masahiro Tanaka||2.6||NY Yankees|
|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.