The San Francisco Giants will have an All-Star this year. I don’t say that out of any level of confidence in the team or the individuals that comprise the team. It’s just that the rules mandate that every team have an All-Star.
I hate that rule. I hate it with a passion.
But the one nice thing about the rule is that it allows me to confidently say things like, “The San Francisco Giants will have an All-Star this year.” I love to be right.
So let’s try and figure out who that All-Star will be. I present to you my unequivocal and entirely accurate power ranking of Giants All-Star candidates.
These power rankings go to 11 (word to Nigel Tufnel), because I felt like there were 11 answers worth considering.
1. Mike Yastrzemski
There was no All-Star Game in 2020, and that stole a first career All-Star selection from Mike Yastrzemski. He would have been a no-doubt choice, but instead has to settle for an All-MLB selection and an eighth place finish in MVP voting.
It’s fair if you want to say that a passed over prospect who blossomed late in his career to become something special in two short seasons is primed for regression. But Yaz is now at essentially a full season’s worth of plate appearances (636), and is slashing .281/.357/.535, with a 137 OPS+ and 5.5 rWAR.
If you watch the playing time, see the treatment, and listen to the quotes, you’ll notice a pretty enormous gap between how the organization views Yaz and how they view, say, Donovan Solano. They clearly think his performance is sustainable. And if it’s sustained, Yaz will likely be an All-Star, even in a league chock full of great outfielders.
2. Buster Posey
Buster Posey is still viewed in baseball circles with reverence, and plays a position lacking star talent in the NL. 2019 may have been a down year for him, and very well may be the new normal, but it’s easy to forget how recently Posey was still seen as one of the elite players at the position. His omission that year ended a streak of four-straight All-Star appearances.
If good health and a year off help Posey find a little bounce back, he’ll have the narrative and likely the field necessary to get selected.
3. Brandon Belt
I’m still upset at how little press Brandon Belt’s 2020 performance received. It didn’t help that he missed the start of the season, or that he played the same position as the NL MVP, but Belt was utterly phenomenal last year.
Among players with at least 150 plate appearances, Belt was fifth in all of baseball in wRC+, trailing only Juan Soto, Freddie Freeman, Marcell Ozuna, and DJ LeMahieu. He was better offensively than Mike Trout. Better offensively than Bryce Harper. Better offensively than José Abreu. Better offensively than Aaron Judge. Better offensively than anyone on the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Can he return to that level, stay healthy, and sustain it for a normal length season? I sure hope so.
4. Jake McGee
When teams are lacking in standout players, the league often just grabs that team’s best reliever and puts them in the All-Star Game to meet the one player per team rule. If I had to guess, Jake McGee will be the Giants best reliever.
That’s the entire reasoning here.
5. Kevin Gausman
Kevin Gausman very well could have been an All-Star last year had there been a game to get selected to. He had a 3.09 FIP, 11.9 strikeouts per 9 innings, and nearly 5 strikeouts for every walk. We’ve seen a lot of pitchers with worse numbers make the All-Star Game.
6. Random reliever who has a good season
Remember that blurb about Jake McGee, roughly 50 words ago? Yeah, that applies here. McGee might be the favorite to lead the Giants bullpen, but it could be Matt Wisler. It could be Tyler Rogers. It could be Jarlin García.
7. Brandon Crawford
Brandon Crawford’s defense may be slowing down, but he still has the reputation as one of the best defensive shortstops around. If he can hit as well as he did last year — .256/.326/.465, good for a 116 OPS+ — his defensive reputation could carry him to a third All-Star appearance.
8. Johnny Cueto
It’s been five years since Johnny Cueto last made the All-Star Game, in his inaugural Giants season. For that matter, it’s been five years since Cueto was a good pitcher.
And yet, he’s someone I just can’t quite discount. Maybe it’s because he’s such a treat. Maybe it’s because his strikeout rate in 2020 was almost identical to in 2016. Maybe it’s because he still has those games where he looks like a star pitcher, they’re just fewer and farther between.
I don’t expect Johnny Cueto to have an All-Star caliber season, or even a particularly good season. But if it did happen, I wouldn’t sit on this uncomfortable excuse for a chair I’m currently sitting on and pen an article titled, No one could ever have seen this quality Johnny Cueto season coming!
9. Tommy La Stella
It was only two years ago that Tommy La Stella made the All-Star Game, and it wasn’t as a token selection either, since he was Mike Trout’s teammate at the time.
Playing time is going to be one of the biggest obstacles for some Giants, which is why La Stella is on this list but neither Wilmer Flores nor Donovan Solano is. I suspect the organization will find a way to get La Stella playing nearly every day, and he’ll likely reward them with high quality play.
10. Alex Wood
Over the last five years, Alex Wood has had three unhealthy seasons and two healthy ones. In the two healthy ones, he made one All-Star Game and had a pretty damn strong case for the other.
He’s an All-Star caliber pitcher if healthy. But the “if” is capitalized, italicized, hot pink, covered in glitter, and laminated.
11. Mauricio Dubón
It’s still entirely unclear what the Giants have in Dubón. Most fans probably view him as a middling utility player who belongs on the roster but shouldn’t play everyday, and that’s a perfectly acceptable view.
Yet based on his playing time last season, and reports from Spring Training, it really seems like the Giants value him greatly. A year after playing center field and second base, he’s getting a lot of reps at shortstop and third base. It feels less like the Giants are making him versatile to increase his value, and more like they’re making him versatile so that they can be sure to keep him in every lineup. Dubi has apparently changed his approach at the plate, and if things click, it could be a great year for him.
Now with all that said, congratulations to 2021 All-Star Anthony DeSclafani.