The Major League Baseball All-Star Game is a neat event for a lot of reasons. It is an opportunity to see the best baseball has to offer all on the same field. Matchups of star vs. star are commonplace on the evening.
There’s more to it than that, though. The All-Star Game is an opportunity for lesser-known players who might not have tons of national publicity to make an impression and show their stuff on a big stage. Since every team gets a representative, nobody gets left out, and fans are exposed to players that might not be otherwise.
Here are ten lesser-known MLB players who deserve to be All-Stars in 2018.
1) Aaron Nola, Phillies
Nola’s success isn’t necessarily a surprise. He’s a seventh overall pick who has been touted for stardom since he entered professional baseball, and he has fulfilled that potential. He has a 2.41 ERA in 18 starts, a WHIP barely above one, and 116 strikeouts in 116 innings pitched. On a staff featuring Jake Arrieta, it’s Nola who can claim the mantle of ace.
For most teams, we’re a quarter of the way through the Major League Baseball season, and right about at the point that teams can begin assessing what their prospects are. It’s also a point where we can review performances to date and look at who’s struggling and who’s starring for each team. Here, we’re going to be focusing on the players who have led their teams, no matter how the club is doing in the grand scheme of things.
Here is the best player for each MLB team so far in 2018.
Arizona Diamondbacks — A.J. Pollock, OF
A couple of pitchers have a case here, but in a year where the Arizona offense has been surprisingly underwhelming, Pollock has carried them. The outfielder is hitting .293 with 11 home runs and 10 doubles, easily pacing the team in OPS. Unfortunately he is expected to miss 4-8 weeks with a thumb injury, because he was working on a potential MVP season before that.
Not all MLB stars start as top prospects. Many are drafted well after the first round, and others still don’t really find their footing until they reach the MLB level. Baseball is filled with players like this.
Here are ten players who could follow that path. These are players who had their prospect status fade before finding success, or players that were never really top prospects to begin with.
1) Robbie Ray, Diamondbacks
Ray is a star already, but he’s still a well-kept secret in the eyes of many. He was the prized piece when the Detroit Tigers traded Doug Fister to Washington, but the deal was perceived as disappointing by many at the time, and Ray had to fight that perception. He was later sold off in the trade that saw Arizona part with Didi Gregorius, and developed quickly with the pressure off. Ray’s ERA was 2.89 and he’s coming off back-to-back 200 strikeout seasons. It’s not sacrilege to say he’s better than Zack Greinke at this point.
2) Chad Green, Yankees
Aroldis Chapman and Dellin Betances will get much of the publicity in the Yankees’ bullpen, but don’t deny Green. An unheralded trade acquisition from the Detroit Tigers, Green was converted to full-time reliever in 2017, where he struck out 103 batters in 69 innings and posted a 1.83 ERA. Those are closer-type numbers from the 26-year-old, even if he doesn’t have a shot at the job as long as Chapman is in New York. There’s an argument to be made that he’s better as a multi-inning relief ace anyway. But with the stuff he has, he could be a future closer somewhere.