Sean Pendergast

Altuve, Alvarez On Track to Start in 2022 MLB All Star Game

Yordan Alvarez is leading all other designated hitters, including Shohei Ohtani, in All Star balloting.
Photo by Jack Gorman
Yordan Alvarez is leading all other designated hitters, including Shohei Ohtani, in All Star balloting.
Every season, since the beginning of this championship window that began for the Houston Astros in 2017, the All Star selection portion of the season has been highly relevant, with at least a half dozen or so Astros routinely in the conversation for selection to the midsummer classic. This season is no different. However, the fashion in which the starters are selected for the game is slightly different.

The fans still vote for the starting position players — players and the commissioner's office select pitchers and reserves — but it is in two phases. The first phase is designed to narrow each position down to a two player runoff (six player runoff for the three outfield spots). Voting began several days ago, and we got our first update this week on where things stand with the first phase of voting set to close on June 30.

And, as usual, the Astros are highly relevant. Here are the current standings in the All Star voting:
OK, here's what you need to know:

Jose Altuve and Yordan Alvarez are on track to start for the AL
If you listen to the echoes on social media, you would think that Jose Altuve is the ultimate villain around baseball, despite the fact that he didn't participate in the Astros' sign stealing scam in 2017. Well, further proof that social media can be an echo chamber for an outraged sliver of society, Altuve leads all second basemen by nearly 200,000 votes. Meanwhile, Alvarez, who has skyrocketed into the league MVP conversation, leads Shohei Ohtani, the reigning AL MVP, by nearly 300,000 votes. Unless the voters for the remaining players at those position make a concerted effort to vote for the Astros' opposition in the runoff, Altuve should be starting in his eighth All Star Game, and Alvarez in his first.  Bonus points if one or both guys participate in the home run derby on Monday night!

Other Astros are polling well, but not good enough
Each of the remaining Astros are all within a respectable shouting distance from the leaders at their positions, but it would take a miracle for any of them to get into a runoff to be selected a starter. Here is the summary of the non-Altuve, non-Yordan Astros and where they stand:

CATCHER: Martin Maldonado, 4th place
FIRST BASE: Yuli Gurriel, 5th place
SHORTSTOP: Jeremy Pena, 4th place
THIRD BASE: Alex Bregman, 5th place
OUTFIELD: Michael Brantley, 9th place; Kyle Tucker, 10th place; Chas McCormick, 14th place

Interesting All Star storylines for some former Astros
The most interesting of the current Astros, in terms of where they stand in the All Star voting, is clearly rookie shortstop Jeremy Pena, who has been everything the Astros could have hoped for and more in his replacement of Carlos Correa, who moved on to the Minnesota Twins in free agency back in March. Ironically, Pena's 4th place standing at a loaded shortstop position is TWO SPOTS HIGHER than Carlos Correa's standing! Correa is currently in 6th place in the balloting. Other former Astros who are showing up on ballots:

CATCHER: Max Stassi, LAA, 8th place
SHORTSTOP: Carlos Correa, MIN, 6th place
DESIGNATED HITTER: J.D. Martinez, BOS, 3rd place
OUTFIELD: George Springer, TOR, 3rd place; Teoscar Hernandez, TOR, 8th place

Then there is the pitching staff
As mentioned earlier, the pitching staff will be selected by a vote of the players with input from the commissioner's office, as well. Right now, Justin Verlander, despite his worst outing of the season last Saturday, has a decent chance of starting in the All Star Game. He is a lock to make the pitching staff. Framber Valdez is also in the mix to make the game. The Astros have the best bullpen in baseball, so a representative from that group might be appropriate. Probably a long shot, but the most deserving is probably Ryne Stanek, who is in the middle of an 18 consecutive scoreless inning streak, and has an ERA of 0.75.

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