The 2018 MLB All-Star Game is fast approaching, with fan voting ending this coming Thursday. The annual midsummer classic will be hosted by the Washington Nationals this year, and should be a chance for the Brewers to showcase some of their high-level talent on a national stage. While it looks like no Brewers will make the starting line-up via the fan ballot, your local nine should be able to still place multiple players on the roster via the players’ vote and manager picks. Let’s take a look at which Brewers have the best chance of representing the Crew come July 17th.
Josh Hader, RP
Hader has the most obvious case of any Brewer. He’s gained national notoriety for his dominance out of the ‘pen, and has made a case for being the best reliever in the NL. He leads the league in K/9 with 17.5, which is a whopping 3 strikeouts better than the second-place Tony Cingrani (14.5 K/9). He leads all NL relievers in WAR at 2.3, which is nearly a full-win better than second-place Adam Ottavino of the Colorado Rockies (see a trend here?). Even though he recently ran into his first rough patch of the season, it would be an upset if Hader is not suited up as an NL All-Star.
Lorenzo Cain, OF
Much like Hader, Lorenzo Cain has separated himself as the best performing outfielder this season. He carries a .291/.394/.438 slash line on offense, and has played elite defense by posting the second-most defensive runs saved in the NL. He currently leads all NL outfielders in WAR at 3.3, which is 0.7 WAR ahead of second-place Brandon Nimmo. 3.3 WAR also puts him at second-place for all NL position players, behind only Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves (3.4). Cain likely would hold the lead if not for his recent injury. He is someone who doesn’t have the name recognition or public perception as being an MVP level talent, but his performance this year certainly warrants his name entering the conversation. A snub from the All-Star game would be astonishing.
Christian Yelich, OF
Yelich is slightly more on the fence than Cain and Hader. He is having a great offensive season, hitting .289/.364/.471 with 11 HR, 34 RBI, and 10 SB. His WAR of 2.1 places him as the 5th best outfielder in the NL. His issue, however, is that of the few players that have performed better than him, only one is currently in a starting spot from fan voting. Currently, Nick Markakis (2.4 WAR, .883 OPS), Matt Kemp (1.4 WAR, .864 OPS), and Bryce Harper (1.5 WAR, .848 OPS) have the top-3 balloting spots seemingly on lock, leaving little leeway in terms of the bevy of outfielders having all-star seasons to make the final roster. The NL roster took 5 reserve outfielders last season, and it is easy to see Yelich getting lost in the mix (regardless of the stats) among candidates that include big names like Charlie Blackmon and AJ Pollack, young stars like Juan Soto and Brandon Nimmo, and players having statistically impressive seasons like Cain and Albert Almora. While Yelich does carry some name power, it will be interesting to see if the NL manager is willing to give two outfield spots to the Brewers.
Jesus Aguilar, 1B
This is likely to be one of the more interesting decisions regarding the All-Star game and the Brewers. Up until 2 weeks ago, no one would have mentioned “Jesus Aguilar” and “All-Star game” in the same sentence. However, Aguilar then went on to mash 7 home runs with a 1.444 OPS since June 17th to vault himself into the conversation. Aguilar currently holds a lead in two “counting” stats that may interest the NL manager that ends up picking the roster, and he leads the all first basemen in home runs (19) and slugging percentage (.627). His overall line of .309/.368/.627 is probably the most impressive in the NL. The one problem is that first base is an extremely deep position in the NL, so Aguilar is currently sitting tied for fifth in WAR among first basemen. The current leading vote getter is Freddie Freeman, who has been far and away the best first baseman in the NL this season. Aguilar will be going against names like Paul Goldschmidt, Joey Votto, Brandon Belt, and Eric Hosmer to secure an all-star bid as a reserve. Regardless of how deserving Aguilar may be, it may be tough for him to overcome the combination of name recognition and performance on that list.
Jeremy Jeffress, RP
The final Brewers candidate is Jeffress, a guy who forms a large part of the heart and soul of this ball club. Jeffress ranks 5th among NL relievers in ERA and has been instrumental in providing Hader and Knebel with help in the backend. Jeffress may not have as clear of a case as some other relievers that may be more “dominant”, but he deserves a look nonetheless.