With the first 2019 all-star voting results having been released earlier this week, it is as good a time as any to ponder which Tiger(s) have a shot at earning the honor of being the team’s representative in this year’s mid-summer classic.
Ok your first reaction is a loud and hearty guffaw, sure. “All-Stars? On the Tigers? The Detroit Tigers?” Surely we must be in jest. But no, there are actually a pair of good candidates, and a sleeper or two who might surprise by getting the nod to the summer classic.
Let’s break down each player’s chances at earning themselves a trip to Cleveland this July by putting them in tiers ranging from least to most likely. Players who are included on the ballot will be discussed as well as any pitchers who have made at least 10 starts or 20 appearances this season, so do not expect to see Ronny Rodriguez, Ryan Carpenter or Mikie Mahtook included. Besides, you should (hopefully) know their odds.
The likely suspects
Matthew Boyd, LHP
He ranks fourth among all pitchers with a 2.8 fWAR, has a 30.5% K rate and a 4.4% BB rate. Case closed.
Similarly to Turnbull, Boyd also ranks in the top 10 among AL pitchers in ERA at 3.08 and is sixth in innings pitched (84.2) and eighth in WHIP (1.04). The only other pitcher to claim top 10 status in the league in those statistics is Justin Verlander. Simply put, Boyd has been one of the best pitchers in baseball and should be a prime candidate for an all-star selection.
Shane Greene, RHP
After a rocky 2018, Greene has established himself as the top-tier reliever he showed glimpses of being two years ago. With an AL best 20 saves and a 1.00 ERA, the lockdown closer appears a safe bet to take off for Cleveland next month.
Set aside a suitcase just in case
Spencer Turnbull, RHP
The red-headed rookie has been among the most pleasant surprises in baseball through two-and-a-half months, as he is second among rookie pitchers with a 1.7 fWAR which ranks tied for fourth overall among first-year players. His 2.78 ERA ranks sixth in the American League. His track record and non-elite K/BB% (13.1) suggest he could be due for regression, but if his high-level performance continues over the next month-and-a-half, he could be the first rookie Tiger to make an all-star game since Mark Fidrych in 1976.
Daniel Stumpf, LHP
Generally regarded as a liability out of the bullpen, Stumpf has been one of the more “dependable” arms in Ron Gardenhire’s arsenal. That does not mean he has been great, though, as his 0.0 fWAR pegs him as the definition of a replacement level player. No, he will not get any consideration for an all-star nomination this year, but he has not been as bad as some of the others.
Niko Goodrum, UTIL
Goodrum is listed on the all-star ballot as a designated hitter, which is the complete opposite of what he has been as a Tiger. Across 59 games in 2019, Niko has played every position (and played them well) except pitcher and catcher, serving more as the designated fielder. While his hitting has left plenty to be desired, his versatility and ability to occasionally break out a multi-hit game keeps him from being a total negative for the Tigers.
Maybe next year... or some other year
JaCoby Jones, CF
If this article were written one month ago, Jones would have topped the “hell no” section. Fortunately, things have changed since then and he has among the best hitters in the league.
JaCoby Jones - A.L. Ranks since May 15— Daniel Cahillane (@DanInTheStudio) June 12, 2019
.370 Avg - 1st
.416 OBP - 3rd
.691 SLG - 3rd
1.107 OPS - 3rd
13 XBH - T-10th
His miserable month to start the season holds him back from getting all-star recognition, but if JaCoby has found his swing (and holds onto it) there is potential that he gets some in the coming seasons.
Christin Stewart, LF
Look out for Christin. After an early-season adjustment period, the rookie has hit .338 with an .893 OPS since May 22. While his K% is still high, he has shown growth as a hitter by going against the hard shift teams have employed against him while crushing fastballs and offspeed pitches. His main weakness remains breaking balls as his .136 AVG and 35.4 K% severely hurt his overall productivity. While he will not be an all-star in 2019, the potential is there for him to grab a nomination or two somewhere down the line.
Daniel Norris, LHP
Once the brightest prospect in the Tigers’ system after being acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays, Norris has largely suffered from injuries after a hopeful start to his tenure with Detroit. Now fully healthy for the first time in years, the lefty has had to readjust as a starter on the fly after being used as a long reliever early in the season. He has mostly been putting up good-not-great starts with a few bumpy efforts along the way in 2019 meaning an all-star nod is out of the question, but his youth plus potential should allow Tigers fans to remain cautiously optimistic as long as he avoids injury.
Has the name, not the game
Miguel Cabrera, 1B/DH
Gone are the days of Miggy being among the most feared hitters in the game, but tales of his total demise are proving somewhat premature. His .293 AVG as a first baseman ranks second in the American League this season among players with at least 100 plate appearances at the position, but without the power and ability to play the field at all, he has little chance at getting his 12th all-star nomination this year.
Nicholas Castellanos, RF
Castellanos may have deserved to play in the 2018 mid-summer classic, but his apparent snub has seemingly not motivated him to prove the haters wrong. He currently sports his lowest AVG and OBP in a single season since 2015 and his power numbers are way down with only seven home runs through 61 games. The silver lining is that his play in right field, while still nothing special, has improved drastically from a -12.9 UZR last season to -1.2 in 2019. While he may get looked at by some off his name alone, it is unlikely he gains traction toward a bid.
No chance, that’s what ya’ got
Josh Harrison, 2B
Considered one of the team’s offseason signings who may have some trade value come July, the veteran’s .219 OBP, .484 OPS and -0.6 fWAR combined with a partial hamstring tear and stint on the 60-day injured list has dashed any hopes of Harrison having any value whatsoever come all-star season, the trade deadline and, possibly, the rest of his tenure as a Tiger.
Jeimer Candelario, 3B
Perhaps the most gut-wrenching player to see in this tier, Candy is well into the worst season of his career. With a .179 batting average and only two home runs after showing an impressive power stroke in 2018, the third baseman has experienced both a temporary demotion to Triple-A and a trip to the injured list. While Tiger faithful hope that the 25-year-old can capture the potential he carried when arriving from Chicago, he will have to show that his -0.2 fWAR this season is nothing more than an aberration.
Jordy Mercer, SS
Another offseason pickup, the former Pittsburgh Pirate and battery mate of Harrison has similarly disappointed though the first few months of 2019. A career .255 hitter, Mercer is well on his way to his worst MLB season at the plate with a .206 AVG. Not only has his bat regressed, but his -1.4 UZR suggests that his time at shortstop has not been fruitful either.
Grayson Greiner, C
Nobody expected Greiner to pump out all-star caliber numbers, but his performance has been discouraging nonetheless. Despite being an all-around solid defender and game manager, he matches Harrison’s -0.6 fWAR as the worst on the team thanks to his putrid .167 AVG and .236 OBP. He has only reinforced the career-backup designation he was given as a prospect.
Joe Jimenez, RHP
Oh, how the “mighty” have fallen. While it was arguable that Jimenez should not have been Detroit’s representative in the all-star game last year, there is no doubt he will be sitting this year’s out. His 4.78 BB/9 represents the highest of his career at any level and 23.1% of his flyballs leave the yard. While his strikeout numbers are still impressive, his 5.16 FIP does not offer a sign of hope that JJ will return to form any time soon - at least not until he regains his command.
Victor Alcantara, RHP
After showing some positive signs early with a 2.16 ERA after 11 appearances, Alcantara has posted a 5.48 ERA in the 21 since. There is truly not much to say about the low-strikeout, high walk reliever other than the fact that he ranks fourth among pitchers in games played, showing that he is nothing more than a warm body to eat innings for a bad bullpen.
Buck Farmer, RHP
Farmer, who is already somehow in his sixth season as a Tiger, is seemingly allergic to clean innings. In his 30 appearances, only five have gone at least one inning without a hit or walk. Similarly to Alcantara, the 28-year-old opened the season impressively with an even 2.00 ERA through 11 appearances but has fallen off a cliff since then, including an eight-appearance stretch with seven earned runs in 5.2 innings between May 22 and June 8.