© 2023 BSN LIVE, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
On May 31 at 9 a.m. Arizona time, Major League Baseball will start accepting ballots for the 2023 MLB All-Star Game in Seattle. And after back-to-back seasons of sending only one player, the Diamondbacks could have as many representatives as any team in the National League.
In some ways, this is just common sense. The Diamondbacks are 31-23. They have the third-best record in the National League, and they are within 1.5 games of both teams that are ahead of them. If they maintain their current position in the standings, they should be among the most well-represented NL teams in the midsummer classic.
On top of that, the Diamondbacks arguably have six worthy candidates: SP Zac Gallen, OF Lourdes Gurriel Jr., OF Corbin Carroll, SP Merrill Kelly, SS Geraldo Perdomo and 2B Ketel Marte. With the exception of Marte’s lone appearance in 2019, none of them have ever appeared in the midsummer classic.
Getting six players in the All-Star Game is not unheard of — see the Dodgers, Braves and New York Yankees last year — but the chance of all six ultimately being named All-Stars is relatively low. The Diamondbacks have never had more than five.
There is also the fact that All-Star voting does not necessarily work out the way that it should. By having fans vote for the starters, the league is asking for chaos. The fact that every team is required to have at least one representative practically guarantees that the 32 players on the roster will not actually be the best 32 players in the league.
Even so, the MLB All-Star Game has always been a marquee event for baseball, and the Diamondbacks have a chance to shine brighter on that stage this year than they have in a long time. Let’s dive in to the six players who, as of now, seem to have a real shot at making it there.
1. Zac Gallen, SP
6-2, 66.2 IP, 2.97 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, .217 BAA, 1.4 bWAR
Despite a few subpar starts in recent weeks, Diamondbacks ace Zac Gallen is still in the thick of the NL All-Star race. It is a testament to how incredibly good he was in April, as well as the fact that there are not as many NL starters putting up ridiculous early-season numbers this year as we have seen in the past.
Many baseball fans, in fact, are likely unfamiliar with the NL ERA leader. That would be Atlanta Braves 24-year-old right-hander Bryce Elder, an unheralded prospect who has a whopping 2.01 ERA through 10 starts. Even so, Elder’s peripherals are shaky, and it is probably too early to call him a lock to make the team.
Generally, All-Star rosters include seven or eight starting pitchers. Among NL pitchers who have made 10 or more starts, Gallen’s 2.97 ERA ranks eighth, his 1.02 WHIP ranks fourth and his 2.10 FIP is tops in the league. He also ranks sixth in the league with 66.2 innings pitched.
Suffice it to say that, while Gallen’s recent struggles might have taken him out of the driver’s seat for the NL Cy Young Award — something that probably should not be discussed this early anyway — he is still in good position to make his first All-Star team.
That said, the race is close, and a strong June will be crucial. Last year, Gallen took a pristine 2.32 ERA into June, but he had one of the worst months of his career and ultimately missed the All-Star Game as a result.
2. Lourdes Gurriel Jr., OF
.319/.369/.566, 9 HR, 29 RBI, 30 R, 1 SB, 1.9 bWAR
When the Diamondbacks acquired Lourdes Gurriel Jr. over the offseason, they were looking to balance out their lefty-heavy lineup. Through two months, Gurriel has not only been the team’s best hitter, but one of the best hitters in the National League.
Among NL outfielders with 100 or more plate appearances, Gurriel’s 153 OPS+ ranks third, trailing only the San Diego Padres’ Juan Soto (160) and the Atlanta Braves’ Ronald Acuña Jr. (158). With both Soto and Acuña looking like virtual locks for the All-Star Game, Gurriel is in good company.
For the more analytically inclined, Gurriel’s 1.9 bWAR ranks fourth among NL outfielders. Acuña (3.0) and Soto (2.0) are ahead of him once again, as is Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts (2.0).
Generally, All-Star rosters have room for seven or eight outfielders. It is still early, but Gurriel clearly belongs in that group as of now. Other candidates to keep an eye on include fellow Diamondbacks outfielder Corbin Carroll, the New York Mets’ Brandon Nimmo, the Padres’ Fernando Tatis Jr. and the Chicago Cubs’ Cody Bellinger.
Gurriel has generally been a streaky hitter throughout his career, and he has shown that already in his time with the D-backs. In 105 plate appearances in March/April, Gurriel hit .273/.305/.394 with one homer. In 90 plate appearances so far in May, he has hit .374/.441/.771 with eight homers, and he is arguably the favorite for NL Player of the Month.
Gurriel does not need to replicate his May performance in June in order to be an All-Star, but he does need to continue to be one of the better hitters in the National League. For now, he is in good position to make his first All-Star team in his sixth major league season.
3. Corbin Carroll, OF
.282/.369/.503, 8 HR, 19 RBI, 32 R, 14 SB, 1.8 bWAR
On Opening Day, I wrote about five questions that would define the D-backs’ 2023 season. One of them was whether Corbin Carroll would blossom into a star in his first full season. So far, the answer is a resounding yes.
Carroll’s 138 OPS+ and 1.8 bWAR rank fourth and fifth, respectively, among NL outfielders (min. 100 PA), slotting in right behind Gurriel in both categories. If the All-Star game was happening tomorrow, Carroll should undoubtedly be included.
That said, there are a number of worthy candidates not far behind. In addition to the names mentioned above, Brandon Marsh of the Philadelphia Phillies (135 OPS+, 1.5 bWAR), and both Bryan Reynolds (126 OPS+, 1.2 bWAR) and Jack Suwinski (136 OPS+, 1.6 bWAR) of the Pittsburgh Pirates are in the mix.
Still just 22, Carroll has a chance to become the second-youngest All-Star in Diamondbacks history. The only Diamondback to play in the midsummer classic at a younger age was Justin Upton, who did so in 2009 at the age of 21.
4. Merrill Kelly, SP
6-3, 63.2 IP, 2.83 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, .192 BAA, 1.5 bWAR
Two years ago, Merrill Kelly was a solid No. 4 starter. Now, coming off a dominant performance on Sunday against the Boston Red Sox, he looks like a legitimate NL All-Star candidate.
Although Kelly’s peripherals are not quite as shiny as Gallen’s, he has a slightly better ERA of 2.83, which ranks sixth in the NL among pitchers with 50 or more innings pitched. Kelly’s 1.07 WHIP ranks seventh, and his .192 opponent batting average ranks third.
It is not all hard to put together a compelling case for Kelly, but his 3.41 FIP is a far cry from Gallen’s 2.10, and his fWAR and bWAR totals rank only eighth and 14th in the NL, respectively.
Kelly is squarely in the mix, though, and the fact that he’s even in the conversation in the first place is incredible considering everything he has been through to get to this point. As for Gallen, a strong June will be crucial.
5. Geraldo Perdomo, SS
.294/.391/.504, 5 HR, 24 RBI, 25 R, 5 SB, 2.0 bWAR
Last year, Geraldo Perdomo slashed .195/.285/.262 in 500 plate appearances. Now, two months into the 2023 season, he is somehow a viable All-Star candidate. If the midsummer classic were tomorrow, in fact, it would be difficult to argue that Perdomo should not be a part of it.
Perdomo’s .896 OPS is the highest of any NL shortstop (minimum 100 plate appearances) by a considerable margin. He has also graded out well defensively with two defensive runs saved and three outs above average.
The biggest knock on the 23-year-old might be playing time. He has only played in 42 of the Diamondbacks’ 54 games, primarily because the D-backs have used him in a platoon with Nick Ahmed. Nonetheless, Perdomo’s 2.0 bWAR trails only Dansby Swanson among NL shortstops.
Despite all of the numbers working in Perdomo’s favor, it is no secret that Perdomo has significantly outperformed his Statcast metrics, and it is widely suspected that his breakout season has more to do with favorable batted ball outcomes than genuine improvement.
Nonetheless, the All-Star Game honors players who bring the most value to their teams, not the players with the prettiest Baseball Savant’s pages.
There are legitimate reasons to doubt that Perdomo will maintain his current level of production through the end of the season, but even just slightly above-average offense from now to the end of the voting period could be enough to maintain his status as a worthy All-Star candidate.
Perdomo’s main competition includes big names such as the San Diego Padres’ Xander Bogaerts, the New York Mets’ Francisco Lindor and the Philadelphia Phillies’ Trea Turner. Orlando Arcia is another name to watch; he has only played 33 games, but is hitting .304/.360/.470.
6. Ketel Marte, 2B
.282/.341/.472, 7 HR, 21 RBI, 29 R, 5 SB, 1.7 bWAR
The NL will likely have two All-Star second basemen. It is all but certain that Luis Arraez of the Miami Marlins will be one of them. Heck, the guy still has a .376 batting average. The other spot is up for grabs, and Ketel Marte has a legitimate shot.
As of now, Marte’s primary competition is probably Thairo Estrada of the San Francisco Giants, who has a similar batting line of .301/.345/.466 and a nearly identical bWAR total of 1.8.
Other players in the mix include 2022 New York Mets All-Star Jeff McNeil, the Cincinnati Reds’ Jonathan India and the San Diego Padres’ Ha-Seong Kim.
Baseball-Reference WAR actually pegs Kim as the best of the bunch with 2.2 bWAR, but a significant portion of his value comes from his defense. He will likely need to raise his .242/.330/.382 batting line to warrant serious consideration.
Top photo: Stan Szeto/USA TODAY Sports