MLB All-Star candidates aim to end long team droughts

Read our story on the balloting format, which includes two phases of fan voting to determine the All-Star starters.

When it comes to All-Star voting, some teams have fared better than others over the years. And every team has fared better at certain positions than others.

Since voting power was permanently returned to the fans in 1970, the Yankees lead the Majors with 69 winners, but even the Bronx Bombers have never had a player top the balloting at designated hitter.

In other words, this year’s voting provides plenty of opportunities for clubs to notch a first — or at least end a long drought. Based on the MLB update released Tuesday, here is a look at 10 players with a chance to do just that for their teams, with Phase 1 voting set to continue until 2 pm ET on Thursday.

AL catcher: Alejandro Kirk, Blue Jays
AL shortstop: Bo Bichette, Blue Jays

Just last year, three Toronto players (Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Teoscar Hernández and Marcus Semien) were voted into the AL starting lineup, tying the team’s record set in its 1993 heyday (Roberto Alomar, Joe Carter and John Olerud). Yet none of the Blue Jays’ 18 balloting winners since the franchise’s arrival in ’77 have played catcher or shortstop.

At least one of those streaks appears set to end, with Kirk holding a lead of nearly 700,000 votes over second-place Jose Trevino in Tuesday’s update. The 23-year-old has earned that position with a spectacular first half, putting him on track to become only the fourth Mexican-born player to start a Midsummer Classic and the first since third baseman Vinny Castilla in 1995.

Bichette is in a battle with both Tim Anderson of the White Sox and Xander Bogaerts of the Red Sox. But even if Bichette doesn’t earn the start, he certainly has a shot at becoming the first Toronto player to appear at shortstop in the All-Star Game since Tony Fernandez in 1989.

AL shortstop: Tim Anderson, White Sox

Speaking of Anderson, he is trying to turn the tide on Chicago’s recent All-Star voting history. When teammate José Abreu earned the starting nod at first base in 2018, it snapped a 21-season drought without a White Sox player winning the voting at any position. That’s tied with the Astros from 1974-94 for the longest such streak by any team since 1970, and Chicago hasn’t had a winner in the two All-Star Games since 2018, either.

Anderson appears to be the team’s best hope in 2022, and if he comes out on top, he would be the first White Sox shortstop to do so since Luis Aparicio in 1970. Anderson was named to his first All-Star team a year ago, and though appeared as a reserve, he did not bat.

AL outfielder: Byron Buxton, Twins

It’s hard to believe, but it was already 20 years ago that Torii Hunter robbed Barry Bonds of an All-Star Game homer in Milwaukee with a spectacular grab, only to have a playful Bonds pick him up and toss him over his shoulder after the inning . In the two decades since, only three Twins players have won the fan voting: Joe Mauer at catcher (four times), Justin Morneau at first base and Jorge Polanco at shortstop.

Buxton isn’t hanging with Aaron Judge and Mike Trout atop AL outfielder voting this year, but he is part of the group that’s in the mix for that third spot, with a chance to move on to Phase 2. The biggest issue, as always , is health. The dynamic center fielder is again dealing with tendinitis in his right knee and has started only 48 of the Twins’ 72 games.

AL second baseman: Andrés Giménez, Guardians

While Jose Altuve enjoyed a healthy lead here, Giménez was neck-and-neck with Toronto’s Santiago Espinal for second and a spot in Phase 2 of the voting. That’s quite a feat for a 23-year-old who posted a .633 OPS in the Majors last season, but Giménez’s breakout has put him in position to make a run.

Cleveland has seen three players win the fan voting at second base since 1970, but none since Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar did it in two seasons in 1999 and 2000. A victory for Giménez would be even more special if he could share the infield with José Ramírez, who is aiming for his third start at third base since 2017.

NL shortstop: Trea Turner, Dodgers

Given the Dodgers’ market size, popularity and track record, you might guess that they have dominated NL All-Star voting. But that’s not the case. Their 32 voting winners since 1970 rank only 11th in MLB, and the team has not seen a non-outfielder get the nod at his position since catcher Russell Martin in 2007.

Amazingly, LA hasn’t boasted a voting winner at third since 1977 (Ron Cey), or at either first base or shortstop since 1980 (Steve Garvey and Bill Russell, respectively). The 2022 Dodgers have someone in the top four at each of those positions, but while Freddie Freeman and Justin Turner are lagging well behind the leaders, Trea Turner was more than 200,000 votes clear of Dansby Swanson in Tuesday’s update. Given that this year’s event is at Dodger Stadium, a Turner start would carry some extra significance.

NL shortstop: Dansby Swanson, Braves

Turner has the hometown edge, but Swanson has been red-hot after a slow start for the defending World Series champions. He will have a steep hill to climb to take down Turner (and hold off Francisco Lindor), but if Swanson manages to do that, he would join Walt Weiss (1998) as the only Braves shortstops to win the voting since 1970. Coincidentally, Weiss is now the Braves’ bench coach.

It is worth noting that both Edgar Renteria (2006) and Jeff Blauser (1997) also started All-Star Games at short for the Braves, but both were injury replacements.

NL third baseman: Manny Machado, Padres

Before Fernando Tatis Jr. claimed the starting shortstop spot in last year’s game, the Padres had not seen any player voted in as a starter since Tony Gwynn in 1999. So it should be no surprise that San Diego is still trying to end some serious dry spells, including at second base, where the club has never suited up a starter.

But Machado has the best chance of taking one off the board, despite spraining his ankle last Sunday in Colorado. The five-time All-Star and two-time starter — from his Orioles days — could join Ken Caminiti (1997) and Graig Nettles (’85) as San Diego’s only third basemen to start an All-Star Game at the hot corner. Machado held a nearly 400,000-vote edge over Nolan Arenado in the first ballot update.

NL first baseman: Pete Alonso, Mets
NL second baseman: Jeff McNeil, Mets

Will the first-place Mets have an All-Star starter this year? They don’t as of now, although a number of contenders remain in the mix. One of those is Alonso, and the Polar Bear’s fans will have their work cut out for them to get him past the Cardinals’ Paul Goldschmidt in Phase 2, should he get that far. The Mets’ only first baseman to ever come out on top in fan voting is Keith Hernandez, who did so in 1986 — a season that turned out rather well in Flushing.

Yet even that is a better history than the club has at second base, where it lacks a single voting winner since 1970. Edgardo Alfonzo (2000) and Daniel Murphy (’15) are the only Mets second basemen to even make an All-Star Game appearance in that time, but with McNeil a fairly close third to Miami’s Jazz Chisholm Jr. and Atlanta’s Ozzie Albies (out with a fractured foot), the door is open for McNeil.

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