MLB All-Star snubs: 5 players who should have made AL, NL starting lineups in 2024

Aaron Judge and Bryce Harper entered the week knowing they were headed to Texas for the MLB All-Star Game in the coming weeks. Sixteen more players joined them Wednesday. 

The full crop of MLB All-Star Game starters were revealed ahead of Sunday’s complete roster announcement, and the stars will be out in full force at Globe Life Field.

Among the biggest names joining Judge and Harper are Shohei Ohtani, Gunnar Henderson, Jose Ramirez and Juan Soto. Any All-Star lineup is an incredible collection of talent, but the Yankees’ duo of Judge and Soto teaming up with Henderson, Ramirez, Yordan Alvarez and Jose Altuve figures to make July 16 a special night for baseball.

Some players left on the outside-looking-in have a right to be disappointed, though. Many will make the final roster on Sunday, but the chance to start the game is a special opportunity that a few can say they had a real case to earn.

Here’s a look at five players who could make a strong argument for being snubbed from the starting lineups.

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MLB All-Star starters snubs

Rafael Devers, 3B, Red Sox

With all due respect to Jordan Westburg, Devers should at least be peeved that he wasn’t a finalist at third base alongside Jose Ramirez. The Red Sox’ franchise hitter is having another stellar season, batting .287 with 18 home runs and a 151 wRC+ that sits seven points higher than Ramirez. Devers also has a higher OPS than Ramirez by a comfortable margin.

You’re not going to find many fans who are truly bothered by Ramirez’s selection. The Guardians star has 23 home runs, 76 RBI and just 45 strikeouts compared to Devers’ 72. Devers just deserved to be right there in the conversation with Ramirez, at the very least.

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Jarren Duran, OF, Red Sox

At this point, Red Sox fans should be blaming themselves. Jarren Duran wasn’t very close to becoming a finalist for the three American League outfield spots despite his breakout season, which could land him top-10 in MVP voting when all is said and done.

Judge and Soto had two starting spots locked up with their stellar play. Kyle Tucker’s injury opened the door for someone else, and Red Sox fans let Steven Kwan go and take it.

Kwan has been ridiculously good this season, batting .362 with seven home runs and sound defense through 57 games. His 172 wRC+ trails only Judge, Soto and Tucker among AL outfielders. Missing more than 30 percent of games should be a difference-maker though.

Duran beats Kwan in both bWAR and fWAR, and the reason is his ability to do just about everything. A .287 AVG, 10 home runs and .848 OPS don’t make Duran look like someone who should register anywhere near the MVP ballot, but the 27-year-old has a ridiculous 43 extra-base hits to Kwan’s 22. That includes an AL-leading 23 doubles and an MLB-leading 10 triples.

Red Sox fans failed Duran by not even getting him to the second stage of voting, but he should still easily make the final roster on Sunday.

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Mookie Betts, SS, Dodgers

This is where the two stages of voting can hurt a player. Mookie Betts likely would have been an All-Star starter had all of the votes been counted from the start of voting until now. Because each finalist starts with a clean slate, however, an injured Betts naturally lost to Trea Turner.

The problem there is that Turner has actually played fewer games than Betts. Betts hit .304 with 10 home runs and an NL-leading .405 OBP over 72 games, posting a 155 wRC+. Turner has played just 46 games, though he’s been excellent when healthy with a .338 AVG and 147 wRC+. Betts easily has the better body of work, considering Turner missed so much more time, but one is healthy and one isn’t at the moment.

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Why does it matter, since Turner would likely replace Betts as a starter regardless? Maybe it matters, and maybe it doesn’t. Betts may not receive the All-Star designation at all because there might not be a point in selecting him as a reserve knowing he can’t play. That doesn’t feel quite right considering the work he did early in the season.

Bryan Reynolds, OF, Pirates

It’s a weak year for National League outfielders. The rise of both Jackson Merrill and Heliot Ramos, who could both very well be All-Stars, has helped a bit, but between Harper’s permanent move to first base, Betts’ move to the infield and Ronald Acuna Jr.’s ACL tear, there was the potential for things to get a bit weird in the outfield.

Not among the finalists after the first stage of voting was Bryan Reynolds, and perhaps you can’t blame anyone for that. Reynolds was having a pedestrian season before June, when he unleashed a 25-game hit streak to position himself for a potential All-Star bid. The numbers will tell you he’s right there with the NL starters. 

Batting .271 with 13 home runs and more hits than every NL outfielder not named Jurickson Profar, Reynolds’ bWAR exceeds Profar, Christian Yelich and the injured Fernando Tatis Jr.

Reynolds’ defense creates some debate, as he ranks poorly in outs above average. fWAR doesn’t like his defense, while bWAR sees it differently. At the end of the day, it’s understandable to say Reynolds hasn’t done enough to rival Yelich or Profar with the way they’re both making contact this season. There’s an intriguing case for Reynolds against Tatis, who has six fewer extra-base hits and hasn’t made nearly the same defensive impact as he did last season.

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Will Smith, C, Dodgers

As is the case with Ramirez, there likely aren’t going to be many upset that William Contreras is starting for the NL and Will Smith isn’t. The cases were closer than one might expect, though.

Smith leads Contreras slightly in fWAR, with one more home run and a wRC+ that sits one point higher than the Brewers standout. Not much stands about Contreras’ defense, either, though he’s not a liability. Contreras does have the contact advantage with a .292 AVG that only recently fell below .300, and he’s played 12 more games than Smith. 

It’s close to even between Contreras and Smith, which is a testament to how consistent Smith has been throughout the first half of the season. 

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