An Underage Sports Journal For Students of the Game

Jason Canlas

Jason Canlas

2021 MLB All-Star Rosters Analysis: American League

We’re just hours away from one of the most anticipated All-Star Games of all time. The rosters for both the American League and the National League have now been made official leading up to the game. There are some players on there who made it as All-Stars while others got snubbed. We’ll take a deeper look into the All-Stars who made the trip to Denver. I will also include the All-Stars that are currently inactive due to injury or other reasons. An early warning: there are a lot of inactive players on this list. Here’s my rundown of all 32 All-Stars from the American League of 2021.

American League Starters

C: Salvador Perez: Royals

The 10-year veteran has spent his entire MLB career in Kansas City and he may also be the most consistent catcher of this generation. Perez has been quietly putting together the best performance of his career. Currently, he leads all catchers in hits (95), RBIs (51), and home runs (20). There are not many veteran catchers today that bring consistent production for their team while providing leadership at the same time. The 2015 World Series MVP has been doing that for the Royals this entire decade and he’s continuing to make his case as a future Hall of Famer.

1B: Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Blue Jays

We have been waiting for baseball’s next big star to break out. This dude is doing way more than that. Vladdy Jr. went from being baseball’s number one prospect to a prime candidate for AL MVP. Guerrero is at the top of almost every single batting category that includes RBI (73), batting average (.343), and OPS (1.121). He’s also second in the league with 28 home runs and 3rd with 68 runs scored. If he can keep his remarkable run going, he will be the 16th hitter in major league history to achieve the Triple Crown feat (award for leading batting average, home runs, and RBIs). Vladimir Guerrero Jr. will be an exciting talent to watch for years.

2B: Marcus Semien, Blue Jays

Toronto may not be the best team in the AL East, but they do have some standout stars. Semien’s primary position is shortstop but he can play second base as well. The former A’s slugger has been getting to the plate a lot this season, recording 382 plate appearances in 80 games (leads MLB). It shouldn’t come as a surprise because, in 2019, he led MLB with 747 plate appearances. He makes good contact and plays excellent defense, which is why he plays multiple positions around the infield. Semien enters the All-Star break with 21 home runs and 54 RBI. His new role with the Blue Jays has been successful for the team so far, making him a part of a “Big Three” with Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette. Semien will finally start in his first All-Star Game because of his productive work at the plate and the versatility he’s providing for Toronto. 

3B: Rafael Devers, Red Sox

It feels like Devers has been in the league forever, but he’s only 24 years old and has a lot to prove. He loves hitting the baseball hard, like really hard. Devers has a 55% hard-hit rate and it’s only 8th in the majors. His 72 RBI are 2nd in the majors behind only Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and his OPS is .930, which is already better than his 2020 total (.793). He also has hit 23 home runs this season (7th in MLB). Devers has a ton of power in his swing, which might be on full display at Coors.

SS: Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox

What a coincidence, all four infielders are from the AL East. Bogaerts has been arguably the most prolific shortstop in the league since 2015. I wouldn’t call him underrated, but he’s not exactly overrated either. He’s established himself as one of the best hitters in the game. He leads the team in hitting average (.322), on-base percentage (.384), and hits (101). The shortstop position was less known for hitting well before Bogaerts entered the league. Now, many shortstops today such as Javier Baez, Corey Seager, and Fernando Tatis Jr. have been all-stars at the plate. Bogaerts has pure offensive talent and has been the centerpiece of the Red Sox success for the past decade.

OF: Mike Trout, Angels (inactive)

The young stars of baseball today have brought more excitement and joy for the future of the game, but it will be a different All-Star Game without Mike Trout playing in it this year. He’s been out with a calf strain since May 17 and isn’t set to return until after the All-Star break, but he was still voted as a 2021 All-Star starting outfielder. Before the injury, he was leading MLB with a .333 batting average. His stat line read 23 runs scored, 8 home runs, and 18 RBI. Trout is a five-tool player and has had an enormous amount of success throughout his MLB career, winning AL MVP three times and making nine All-Star selections, the most out of any active player in MLB right now. It’s a shame he won’t be available to play in Denver, but he has cemented himself as the greatest baseball player of this generation. 

OF: Aaron Judge, Yankees

I get annoyed talking about the Yankees because, well, they’re the Yankees. But I have to give some respect to Aaron Judge because he’s the best power hitter in the game right now. He’s having a decent season so far, but I want him to start because of his absurd power. He has the second-hardest hit rate percentage in MLB (57.2%) and owns the second-highest maximum exit velocity this season (119 MPH). You can guess who he’s trailing behind in both those categories: his teammate, Giancarlo Stanton. In his rookie season, Judge hit 52 home runs (set the rookie record for most home runs in a single season before Pete Alonso in 2019) and won the Home Run Derby that year. So yeah, who doesn’t want to see Aaron Judge hit bombs at Coors Field?

OF: Teoscar Hernández, Blue Jays

Yes, Teoscar Hernandez is starting in the All-Star Game. His name doesn’t come up very often but he’s slowly rising as a top slugger. Last season, he had an excellent year after leading the Blue Jays with 16 home runs and a .579 slugging percentage while tacking on 33 runs scored and 34 RBI, all in a COVID-shortened season. Unfortunately, he caught COVID at the beginning of 2021 and got off to a slow start, but he is still hitting just under .300 and has hit 11 home runs so far. The AL outfield situation is a mess right now because of notable All-Star-worthy injuries to Mike Trout and Twins star outfielder Byron Buxton. Hernandez is an interesting pick to start but the fans sure have some faith in him to make something happen on Tuesday.

DH: Shohei Ohtani, Angels

Shohei Ohtani is a once-in-a-lifetime gift for all of baseball. The Angels two-way superstar can hit and pitch well at the same time. He currently leads the league with 33 home runs, his 70 RBI are 3rd in the league, and his 1.073 OPS is 2nd in the league. He also has 12 stolen bases along with a .709 slugging percentage that leads MLB. Pitching-wise, he owns a 3.49 ERA, 87 strikeouts, and a 4-1 pitching record in 13 starts on the mound this season. Ohtani also has the second-highest maximum exit velocity this season (119 MPH). This kid has power, speed, contact, good plate discipline, and everything you’d want in a baseball player. Ohtani has announced that he will participate in the Home Run Derby this year, which is already exciting. Not only is he the frontrunner for AL MVP, but one other thing is for sure: he is the Babe Ruth of Japan. 

American League Reserves

C: Mike Zunino, Rays

The AL catchers have been weak this year but hey, rules are rules. Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez was another to consider but Zunino is the better choice because of his powerful hitting at the plate this season. He’s hitting under .200, not an All-Star-worthy stat, but he has hit 18 home runs this season, second among catchers and 21st overall in the league. Zunino’s got a better power swing than any other catcher in the league and the home run column has filled up for him this season.

1B: Matt Olson, A’s

No, I’m not talking about Matt Chapman. I’m talking about the other “Matt”, Matt Olson. This man is having one heck of a season. For starters, Olson is hitting over .283 and owns a .928 OPS (10th). He has also hit 21 home runs (9th) and 53 RBI. Olson has spent all five seasons of his MLB career with the A’s and has taken over the team’s slugging role since Marcus Semien left for the Blue Jays. His performance this season has propelled the A’s to an AL West dogfight with the Houston Astros. He’s had a great career so far, but 2021 is certainly his best season yet.

1B: Jared Walsh, Angels

Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani are getting all the love from the fans and so should Walsh. The Angels versatile slugger is the third All-Star from the Angels squad. With Trout hurt and third baseman Anthony Rendon struggling at the plate, Walsh has stepped up in a big way for the Angels. He has driven in 64 RBI (5th) and smashed 22 home runs (7th) while averaging 14.4 at-bats per home run (10th). Walsh’s power is not something to take lightly because he will make you pay and take the ball out of the park. While Ohtani is having an MVP-caliber season, “Walshy” is quietly turning into a super slugger.

2B: José Altuve, Astros (inactive)

Unfortunately, Altuve is skipping the All-Star Game because of a nagging leg injury that he wants to rest. But the longtime Astro was voted in before the news anyway. The 2017 MVP has scored 64 runs this season (6th). He obviously has incredible speed, but his baserunning skills haven’t been much of a factor this year as he only has 4 stolen bases. Other than his speed, he’s a good hitter. He has hit 19 home runs and 52 RBI this season, although the numbers are still on pace for him to surpass his 2019 totals. The consistency is fading from Altuve, but despite the size disadvantage, his experience and skills are enough to make him a seven-time All-Star. 

2B: Whit Merrifield, Royals (replacement)

He’s the perfect replacement for Altuve and I can’t wait to see what he does in Denver. Merrifield isn’t known much for power and run production, but rather for his speed and baserunning skills. He leads the league with 24 stolen bases and owns a 13.4% strikeout rate (10th), making him one of the hardest players in the league to strike out. Other than that, he has 95 hits (12th) and 50 runs scored. Power isn’t the only middle factor in baseball. Speed and knowledge play a major role in it too. Whit is one of the few stars that provide that and we should be grateful to have a player like this in the MLB.

3B: José Ramírez, Indians

The Indians superstar has been putting up fantastic numbers over the last five years, which nearly got him the AL MVP award four times. This year will most likely be the fifth time he has come up short since Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is the frontrunner right now. He should not put his head down because he’s proved to be one of the most consistent third basemen in the league. His 2021 totals so far are 60 runs scored (11th), 19 home runs, and 52 RBI along with 8 stolen bases. What makes him special is his switch-hitting ability. He’s a better contact hitter as a righty, but a better power hitter as a lefty. Ramírez will get that MVP award someday, but for now, he will be an All-Star once again. 

SS: Bo Bichette, Blue Jays

Keep an eye on this guy. Bichette is only 23 years old and he would’ve been an easy choice for 2019 AL Rookie of the Year if he played a full season. He was called up to the majors in late July that year and he was also 21 at the time, which made him ineligible for the award. That’s how good he will be and there’s a lot of potential there. Bichette leads MLB with 72 runs scored, showing that he’s a threat whenever he gets on base. He also has 12 stolen bases and he’s never been caught stealing yet this year. That makes him a perfect 12-for-12 on stolen bases, which is impressive. Bichette has been productive at the plate too. He has 104 hits (6th), 16 home runs, and 57 RBI (16th). Bo Bichette is exactly what baseball fans (and the Blue Jays, of course) need. He is a bright young star and possibly, a future MVP. 

SS: Carlos Correa, Astros (inactive)

It’s hard to believe that Correa has been in the league for 6 years and he’s still only 26 years old. He became the second-youngest player in MLB history to win Rookie of the Year, winning it at 20 years old. Correa provides elite offense and defense. While his stats aren’t elite status, he has put up fair numbers with 52 RBI and 61 runs scored (7th in MLB). On the defensive side, he has a powerful arm. His max throwing speed across the infield is 97 mph. In other words, Correa has the arm of a pitcher. The Astros shortstop announced on Thursday that he won’t participate in the All-Star Game so he can rest and recover. We won’t see him play but he’ll still be recognized for the hard work he’s put in this year. 

SS: Tim Anderson, White Sox (replacement)

As Correa’s replacement, this will be the first All-Star Game for Tim Anderson. He’s been with the White Sox since 2016 and he’s known for being the second-best player behind Jose Abreu his whole career. Anderson hits the ball very well and it has shown the last few years. From 2019-2021, his batting averages read .335/.322/.310. He has 14 stolen bases, 95 hits, and 54 runs scored. His run production isn’t very high but his contact and speed make up for it. Enjoy the moment, Tim Anderson.

IF: Joey Wendle, Rays (replacement)

He had a hot start to the season and it looked like he was on pace to have a breakout year. Now he has fallen off the tracks and hasn’t been getting many positive results this season. Despite the rapid decline, Wendle is still an amazing contact hitter and not exactly a power hitter since he has only hit 7 home runs. In April, he hit .313, recorded 26 hits, and scored 17 runs. He had an OBP of .341 and a slugging percentage of .518. Wendle can play defense as well. He plays all around the infield so he’s considered a utility infielder. He’s a more versatile version of Tim Anderson, except Wendle doesn’t need batting gloves either. A dream scenario: Wendle will hit a rare home run without gloves on at Coors Field. 

OF: Michael Brantley, Astros (inactive)

Another inactive Astro as Brantley decided to skip the All-Star game due to injury. However, he was one of four Astros to be selected as an All-Star because he’s a sneaky, excellent hitter. Yeah I know, I’ve said this with the last two players but it only means that this roster will be loaded with good hitters. Brantley might be the best out of all of them in the American League. He’s second in the AL with a .324 batting average and has only struck out 34 times. That gives him an 11.3% strikeout rate that ranks 5th in MLB. He won’t be able to display his hitting skills, but the 13-year veteran is deserving of another All-Star selection. 

OF: Joey Gallo, Rangers 

Everything is bigger in Texas, including Joey Gallo’s towering home runs. The Rangers slugger has dealt with inconsistency during his whole career, but he’s been on one of the hottest runs of the season. Since June 26, he has hit 11 home runs in his last 12 games, upping his total to 24 home runs on the year (5th). Gallo also adds 53 runs scored and 52 RBI to his stat line and even leads MLB with 72 walks. His late run was enough for him to be selected to the All-Star Game AND the Home Run Derby. I cannot wait to see Joey Gallo play in Denver and he will bring lots of excitement over the next two days. 

OF: Adolis García, Rangers

Just amazing. The Rangers have a one-two HR punch with Gallo and García. The rookie had a huge impact with the Rangers right away. May was his best month, hitting 11 home runs, 17 runs scored, and 14 RBI all with a .312 batting average. Now García has 22 home runs (7th) and 62 RBI (6th). Adolís’ home run bombs are exciting to watch and are even more impressive for a rookie. Texas is lucky to have two sluggers that double the power in Arlington. The future is looking bright for “El Bombi”. 

OF: Cedric Mullins, Orioles

Mullins is performing way above expectations this year. He hit a combined 7 home runs from 2018-2020, which proves that he isn’t known for power. This season, he took that to a whole different level. He has 16 home runs in the first half of 2021 already. He adds 34 RBI to his overall stat line, a .313 batting average (8th), and 105 hits (4th). Mullins is even better as a baserunner. He has 15 stolen bases and a .380 OBP. Cedric Mullins has improved dramatically this season and he’ll be a big trade target for other teams in the league.

DH: J.D. Martinez, Red Sox

Martinez was the biggest reason why the Red Sox won the World Series in 2018. He’s proving that he’s hungry for another ring. J.D. has 62 RBI (6th), 60 runs scored, and just 18 home runs. He is still hitting .301 and owns a .931 OPS (7th). The powerful Martinez has quieted down a bit but he remains a valuable piece for a first-place Red Sox squad vying for its third World Series title in the last 10 years.

DH: Nelson Cruz, Twins

What a remarkable career Cruz has had. He is still going strong at 40 years old, the second-oldest active MLB player right now. He leads all designated hitters with a .304 batting average and owns a .927 OPS just behind J.D. Martinez. He’s one of those rare players at his position that can hit the ball hard while hitting for consistency. Cruz can hit home runs but he has only participated in one Home Run Derby (2009). Another surprising fact: he’s never won a World Series title. Regardless, he has made a name for himself for the last decade and his baseball days may be coming to an end soon. Not only is he a seven-time All-Star, but a future Hall of Famer as well.

Starting Pitchers

RHP: Shane Bieber, Indians (inactive)

Not Justin. The Indians ace won the 2020 AL Cy Young Award and he hasn’t been in Cy Young form much this season. Bieber owns a 3.28 ERA and is still second in the American League with 130 Ks. He relies on his 90 MPH four-seam fastball but he throws a ton of up-and-down breaking balls too. Bieber won’t be available to pitch because he’s been dealing with a shoulder injury since June, which is another reason why he hasn’t been putting up Cy Young numbers. He’s still one of the best pitchers in MLB, but this may end up being his regression year.

RHP: Gerrit Cole, Yankees

Cole is the best pitcher in the American League by a mile. In December 2019, the Yankees made him the highest-paid pitcher in MLB history by signing him to a 9-year, $324 million contract. Since then, Cole has continued to dominate on the mound. He leads the league with 147 Ks and owns a 2.68 ERA. Cole’s most lethal pitch is his fastball, which travels between 98-100 mph in a blur. Here’s the surprising part about Cole: he’s never won a Cy Young award. 2021 might be the year that he wins it if he can lower his ERA. Gerrit Cole went from being an average pitcher to a top-notch superstar.

RHP: Nathan Eovaldi, Red Sox

Before he joined the Red Sox in 2018, Eovaldi had pitched for four other teams and found little success during his career. Now he’s Boston’s most reliable pitcher. From 2019-2021, his ERA dropped from 5.99 to 3.66. Eovaldi has only 99 Ks but he has 9 wins out of 18 starts this season (6th). He relies on his 97 MPH four-seamer and his 79 MPH curveball that drops on the inner half of the plate. This will be Eovaldi’s first year as an All-Star and this will also be the next step for him to prove that he can be Boston’s long-term starter. Now that Boston ace Chris Sale is expected to make a full recovery, the Red Sox pitching rotation will be even better by 2022.

RHP: Kyle Gibson, Rangers

He’s a very interesting pitcher. Gibson has pitched in 17 games. Ten of those games have been no-decisions and his pitching record this season is 6-1. He’s pitched 102 innings and owns a 1.07 WHIP (20th), and he only has 88 strikeouts. That’s not all the stats. Gibson owns a 2.29 ERA (6th) and has 12 quality starts (10th). The former Twin is a first-time All-Star because of his unreal stats and performances this season.

LHP: Yusei Kikuchi, Mariners

One of the biggest reasons why the Mariners are back in the AL West title race is because of this guy. Kikuchi’s ERA was below 3.00 a week ago before giving up five runs against the Yankees in a start last Wednesday. Now he owns a 3.48 ERA and a 6-4 pitching record. Most pitchers rely on their four-seam fastball, but not Kikuchi. 40% of the pitches he throws are cutters and 69.4% of them catch the strike zone. Kikuchi’s excellent pitching this season has played a huge role in the Mariners’ first-half comeback and he deserves an All-Star spot because of it.

RHP: Lance Lynn, White Sox

The Sox have one of the best bullpens in all of baseball. Lynn is a big reason for that. The 10-year veteran owns a 1.99 ERA (leads AL) in 14 starts and an opponent batting average of .189 (8th overall). He’s also in the 91st percentile in fastball spin and uses the fastball in the upper part of the strike zone, which is where it’s hard for hitters to get to when he’s on the mound. He usually gives up a ton of fly balls but that stat has decreased. Lynn is one of the most underrated pitchers in MLB and has had a ton of experience pitching for multiple teams. If Lynn keeps pitching well and Gerrit Cole somehow struggles in the second half, the White Sox ace has a good shot of winning the AL Cy Young Award.

LHP: Carlos Rodón, White Sox

The other White Sox pitcher is having the best season of his career. Rodón has been in the league for 7 years, all in Chicago. His career was trending downhill after his ERA went from 3.75 to 8.22 from 2015-2020. In his second start of 2021, Rodón threw his first career no-hitter against the Indians. Now he owns a 2.31 ERA (7th) and a 0.96 WHIP that ranks 9th in MLB. Opponents are hitting only .179 off of his four-seam fastball in the upper right part of the strike zone. Rodón is the real deal and the rest of the league should be taking notice.

RHP: Chris Bassitt, A’s (replacement)

“C Bass” has put up some solid numbers over his career and might be the most consistent pitcher in the history of the Oakland A’s. Over his 7-year career, he owns an overall 3.52 ERA, an impressive number for that span. In 2020, he finished with a 2.29 ERA, the 6th-best in MLB that year, and was voted 8th for the AL Cy Young Award. Bassitt has pitched a lot this year too. He has started 19 games (tied-1st) and pitched 118 innings (leads AL). At 32 years old, Bassitt has risen to the top as one of Oakland’s most unexpected stars, and since he didn’t get to live his All-Star dream last year, he deserves to live it this year. 

RHP: Shohei Ohtani, Angels

He’ll be part of history on Tuesday when he becomes the first All-Star to be selected as a hitter and a pitcher. Here’s Ohtani’s best pitch: his splitter. It’s not just any splitter, either. It’s simply the most unhittable pitch in baseball right now. Opponents are hitting .028 off of his splitter. The adrenaline is building up in Denver for sure.


RHP: Matt Barnes, Red Sox

Before 2021, Barnes’ career-high in ERA was 3.65. He has lowered it remarkably to a 2.61. More importantly, Barnes has the third-best WHIP among AL relievers (0.89) and the most strikeouts for any reliever this season (63). While the Red Sox have been hitting the ball well this season, Barnes has been carrying the pitching workload as a reliever and has done a phenomenal job sticking with the organization in order for him to improve his closing game.

LHP: Aroldis Chapman, Yankees

The Yankees closer is having his worst season so far, but he still has 16 saves and 52 Ks. He also has the fastest pitch ever recorded in the history of baseball (105.1 mph). That makes him one of the most feared pitchers in the game. Chapman is the best closer of the modern era, but no one expected this kind of slump from a future Hall of Famer.

RHP: Liam Hendriks, White Sox

Not Kyle Hendricks, the Cubs ace pitcher. It’s Liam Hendriks, the White Sox ace reliever. A lot of people confuse the two pitchers, but Liam is rising as one of the best AL relievers in the modern era. Hendriks leads the AL with 23 saves and leads the league in games finished (33). He’s also in the 98th percentile in chase rate. This season, Hendriks has 63 strikeouts and a 0.76 WHIP (leads AL relievers). He used to be a starter with the Minnesota Twins and Oakland A’s before emerging as an elite reliever. Hendriks has shown signs of improvement over the years and switching to reliever might’ve been the right move. He’s the number one reliever that comes to mind for this year’s All-Star Game.

RHP: Ryan Pressly, Astros (inactive)

With Pressly out on paternity leave, all four Astros will be inactive and none will play in the All-Star Game. One of the most underrated relievers in the league, Pressly owns the best ERA in the AL out of all active relievers (1.42) and is second in the AL with a 0.79 WHIP. He also owns a 4-1 record and he has finished 30 games, the most in his career. The Astros are one of the most complete teams in all of baseball and they have won a lot of close games because of Pressly.

LHP: Gregory Soto, Tigers

It’s an honor for Soto to be selected as a first-time All-Star. After struggling in his first two seasons, he has improved in 2021. He owns a 2.75 ERA and a 4-1 pitching record. The Tigers haven’t had much to cheer for, but Soto gives hope to a team looking to rebuild and make themselves a division contender again.