It is the busy part of this season, but the All-Star break is upon us. This is around the Major League First-Year Player Draft, with the trade deadline coming at the end of the month. Suffice to say there is a lot going on in the game, no matter which parts of it really grab your attention if you love the sport. This time I am thinking about the guys who play on the teams who have not performed in the first half of the season. I want to put together a bad team all-star squad. These guys might be some names who could come up at the trade deadline as their clubs look to rebuild, or they will be the foundation of the next competitive team their organizations produce. So for the purpose of this exercise, I will keep it to guys on teams that are at least five games under .500 on the season, so no Dodgers, Giants, Padres, Mets, or Brewers on this squad.
Pitcher: Trevor Rodger, Miami Marlins. The lefty is quietly one of the most dominant arms going in the big leagues so far this year. The 7-6 record is middling, but we are focused on the losing teams here. His 2.31 ERA, while backed by a 2.49 FIP, shows he is keeping runs off the board on his own. 122 strikeouts in 101.1 innings equate to 10.84 K/9, and that will play in any rotation he was inserted into. His fastball averages 94.6, so he isn’t trying to be tricky on the mound. 3.1 WAR at this point of the year, if you are into that sort of thing, sign me up
Catcher: Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals. This one is a bit of a layup since he is an actual all-star. .275/.300/.501 will work for most clubs behind the plate. This is buoyed by his 21 home runs, 53 RBI, and 41 runs scored. His near non-existent walk rate of 2.2% is still intact and right in line with his career norms. His .325 BABIP is a bit high in comparison to what he has done historically, but all-star teams are largely first-half awards, so we can overlook that for now. A WRC+ of 114 means he is 14% better than the league average overall, so the Royals can just let Salvy cook for now.
First base: Trey Mancini, Baltimore Orioles. He isn’t on the team as a sentimental pick being a cancer survivor, this is strictly on merit. He is .256/.331/.460 for the O’s. The WRC+ is 117, so he’s doing a bit better than an average Joe. 16 home runs, 55 RBI, and 48 runs show him to be doing enough to remain credible at his position. His BABIP of .298 is slightly behind where he was last season, so he could still see a slight uptick in his numbers going forward. The 1.2 WAR plays well enough for inclusion among the options available.
Second base: Adam Frazier, Pittsburgh Pirates. Far from a household name, but this is the kind of guy an enterprising contender can add at the deadline and have it make a difference. .330/.397/.463 shows he can get the bat on the ball with just enough pop to be dangerous. He only has 4 homers to go with his 29 RBI, but he has scored 53 runs as part of one of the worst offenses in the big leagues. He has produced a 137 WRC+ to this point, which is a product of his 26 doubles. The BABIP of .366 isn’t sustainable, but even if it comes down a bit he can still be useful given the position he plays.
Shortstop: Trevor Story, Colorado Rockies. He might top the list of most likely to be traded from this team, and so far this season his defense has been more valuable than his offense, but a down half from Trevor Story is better than a lot of guys. He is .249/.323/.442 at the break this season. 11 home runs, 42 RBI, and 42 runs work in lots of places, but not so much in Denver. He has also chipped in with stolen 17 bases. The .291 BABIP is below his career norms and is dragging his other numbers down. Once the BABIP normalizes his numbers will improve whether or not he calls Coors Field home.
Third base: Eduardo Escobar, Arizona Diamondbacks. Here is a guy that further proves even the worst teams have a valuable guy or two. .254/.301/.483 with 20 long balls, 60 RBI, and 45 runs scored works well on a roster. The .270 BABIP is in line with his career averages. The WRC+ of 108 is about what it should be, given his production and his position. He has produced 2.0 WAR on the team with the fewest wins in the league. He has outplayed all of the projection systems to this point, and is having a possible career year to this point, so why not include him?
Outfield: Cedric Mullins, Baltimore Orioles. He is another real-life all-star. His .314/.380/.541 combined with 16 home runs, 16 steals while tacking on 49 runs, and 35 RBI out of the leadoff spot means he is likely better than the guy your favorite team is playing out in centerfield each night. A WRC+ of 151 and a 3.8 WAR to this point in the year shows Cedric Mullins was wise to give up switch-hitting and just go at it from the left side. I recall when he took over in center from Orioles icon Adam Jones, and now we are seeing Baltimore had a hunch and were wise to follow it.
Outfield: Joey Gallo, Texas Rangers. I know there was a choice between him and his teammate Adolis Garcia, but Gallo simply has done a bit more. His .239/.402/.522 with 24 jacks, 52 RBI, and 52 runs are perfectly suited to modern baseball. He takes, rakes, and strikes out a lot as his 30.8% strikeout rate will attest. The 20.5% walk rate jumps out to me as his light-tower power keeps pitchers from completely exposing the holes in his swing. It is really hard to have a WRC+ of 153 and a WAR of 3.5 with his batting average and strikeout rate, but Gallo is pulling it off.
Outfield: Bryan Reynolds, Pittsburgh Pirates. He is another star that has gone into Witness Protection due to plying his trade in Steel City. His .302/.387/.519 could have him out of the shadows someday. The 16 dinger, 51 steaks, and 50 runs make him the other viable bat in the moribund Pirates attack. The .349 BABIP isn’t running hot for him, so his stuff is sustainable. Who knew a guy with a 146 WRC+ and 3.0 WAR could silently walk among us? The Giants might want a do-over for the Andrew McCutchen deal.
Designated hitter: Adolis Garcia, Texas Rangers. He can make the squad as a DH. His .270/.312/.527 with 22 bombs, 62 driven home, and 43 runs scored means his numbers are similar to Joey Gallo. It is a higher average, but with fewer walks. 17 walks against 106 strikeouts could mean the bottom may fall out in the second half, but let’s just enjoy the magic while it is here.
So there it is; a group of guys who had a standout first half while their teams had anything but. Some of these guys will be elsewhere come August, and just might help someone take home the title. I know there isn’t a Detroit Tiger on the squad, so maybe Akil Badoo could be a fourth outfielder. It was fun to look at some teams most fans don’t really think about. My bad team all-star could do some damage!