With the All-Star Game Voting ballot open, which members of the Phillies deserve a spot on the 2021 All-Star team? With only one month until the Midsummer classic at Coors Stadium, who will make their mark on the Phillies fan base, as well as in Major League Baseball’s eyes?
What do baseball fans consider when we think of a player who deserves to make the All-Star team? In my personal opinion, I believe an all-star is a player who is well-rounded in all aspects of the game. Someone who has strong, persistent offense, takes advantage of all situations with opportune hitting, drives in RBI’s, further advances runners in scoring position, and is aggressive on the base pads.
On a defensive standpoint, this player is someone who is diligent, has his undivided attention on the game, puts 100% of his efforts into backing up his pitcher, has a strong, reliable arm, makes great defensive plays, makes sharp, wise decisions, and overall makes outstanding plays on the diamond retiring batters.
That being said, which of the Phillies players have proven that they have exhibited these skills, at the highest level this season so far? Let’s discuss the Phils top stars this season, and their potential competition.
First and foremost, the player I believe there is no question that he will absolutely make the team, is pitcher Zack Wheeler. Overall this season, Zack’s record is 4-3 in 12 appearances, with a 2.51 ERA, 100 strikeouts, and an impressive 0.94 WHIP. In his most recent outing vs. the Nationals he struck out eight through seven and a third, throwing his main pitches of a four-seam fastball, slider, sinker, and curve ball.
In another outing vs. the Rays, he struck out a career high 14 batters, the second highest total in the MLB this year. Additionally, if this wasn’t impressive enough, he threw a complete game shutout against the Milwaukee Brewers, allowing only three hits, and had no walks, getting the coveted W. Finally, another notable start was in an interleague game vs. the Red Sox, where he allowed one run on three hits and a walk, and struck out an exceptional 12 batters, mitigating the otherwise outstanding Red Sox offense.
Who is Zack’s biggest competition when being chosen to pitch in the All-Star game? I believe the other contenders from the NL are Yu Darvish (Padres), Brandon Woodruff (Brewers), and Kevin Gauseman (Giants). These three pitchers have a combined 17-3 record, 1.64 ERA, 296 strikeouts, and a 0.81 WHIP this season. With their numbers being very similar to Wheeler’s, they also have a big shot at being selected to represent their team in Colorado on July 13th.
Secondly, also in contention is first-baseman Rhys Hoskins. “Big Fella” has impressed this season, as he has 57 hits, 12 home runs, driven in 35 runs batted in, has a .263 batting average, and remarkable .332 on base percentage. Likewise, he recently hit his 100th career home run, and became the fourth fastest Phillie to reach this great milestone. He also had a two home-run game in April, slugging two bombs vs. Cardinals pitching. He leads the team in batting average, home runs, RBIs, and runs created.
On the field, Rhys is mediocre, not overly impressive, but still able to make heads up plays when needed. In the Nats series, Rhys made a great over the shoulder basket catch, on a pop up with the bases loaded. However, are his skills enough to override his competition? That is yet to be determined. Freddie Freeman (Braves), as well as Max Muncy (Dodgers) have a combined .248 average, 26 home runs, and 98 hits this season. Additionally, the two NL stars have both been to the All-Star game before, Freeman being a four-time Allstar, as well as Muncy in 2019.
Last but certainly not least, is Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto. After being resigned by the Phils in the offseason, J.T. has continued to impress behind home plate, with his fantastic arm and hot bat. The thirty year old catcher has scored 22 runs, 40 hits, 6 home runs, and 24 RBIs. On Sunday, he also claimed his 100th career homer, hitting an opposite field shot to right field. Realmuto even proudly showed off the new homer hat, in a curtain call, when celebrating in the dugout.
Behind home plate, the two time All-Star and gold glover is arguably the “best catcher in baseball.” In 2019, he was the MLB leader in caught stealing percentage with an astonishing 46.7%. Likewise, this season, J.T. has done an excellent job of receiving, blocking, and framing the ball, showing immense arm strength, agility, and speed, both catching and on the base pads. Overall, Realmuto is a five tool player, and has most definitely proved that he deserves a spot on the All-Star team. As for his competition, the two big names that come to mind are Buster Posey (Giants), and Willson Contreras (Cubs). Combined, the two have 95 hits, 20 dingers, 47 RBIs, and a .290 average. Defensively, they have a combined 57% caught stealing percentage, and are strong backstops as a whole.
Ultimately, will the Phillies send these three star players to Colorado in July? Only time will tell. Wheeler, Hoskins, and Realmuto all need to continue to stay hot, at the plate and on the field, staying confident and consistent. However, it is also up to us, the fans! Remember to vote for your favorite Phils by voting in the 2021 All-Star Ballot. Phase 1 voting is currently open, and ends June 24th. With our hopes held high, we can send our Phils to Coors Field, to play in America’s favorite pastime of the summer.
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