Voting has started for the NL 2022 All-Star team, and it is very possible that the Mets will have at least one starting position player on the roster. The last time the Mets had a position player voted in as a starter was 2016, when Yoenis Cespedes won an outfield spot. The Mets have a couple of strong contenders to start this year in first baseman Pete Alonso and second baseman/outfielder Jeff McNeil. McNeil is listed as a second baseman on the ballot, so we will analyze his chances versus the other leading second base candidates. Please note all stats cited are current as of Sunday’s action.
Pete Alonso is having a monster year this season. His slash line is .284/.362/.577, translating to an OPS of .921. In two key counting stats, RBI and homers, he leads the league with respective totals of 57 and 18. In a stat that measures clutch hitting effectively, namely BA with runners in scoring position (RISP), Alonso has a terrific .345 figure. Many, if not most years, these kinds of numbers would make Alonso a shoe-in to start. But not this year.
As good as Alonso has been, rival first sacker Paul Goldschmidt of the Cardinals has been even a bit better. Goldschmidt is slashing .327/.411/.577, making his OPS .988. That SLG figure of .577 is second in the league. Goldschmidt has racked up 12 homers and 47 RBI. His BA RISP figure is … .475. No, that incredible figure is not a misprint, he is getting a hit nearly half the time with runners in scoring position.
Defensive stats will probably not factor too much in the voting for this bat-first position of first base, but Goldschmidt has the edge in DRS with -1 as opposed to -4 for Alonso. There are other candidates who will draw support, notably perennial All-Star Freddie Freeman, but it probably will be a two man battle. Looking purely on merit, Goldschmidt would hold a slight advantage over Alonso for the starting berth, at least at this point. However even if he is not the starter, Alonso should be on the team.
McNeil is also having an excellent year, and the competition at second base in the NL is not as daunting as the first base battle. McNeil has assembled a line of .320/.371/.442, making his OPS .812. His BA is third in the NL. As good as his BA has been his average with RISP is even better at .388. His figures for runs scored and RBI are 28 for each one, not overly impressive. However Mets manager Buck Showalter has buried McNeil toward the bottom of the batting order much of the season, and it is hard to put up big numbers from that part of the order.
Looking at the list of second basemen on the ballot, it appears the main competion for McNeil would be Gavin Lux of the Dodgers and Ozzie Albies of the Braves. Lux has an OPS of .760 with the slash line being .296/.375/.385. He has two homers and 14 RBI so far. His BA with RISP is just .244.
Albies has the reputation at second, but he is clearly having a down year. He’s slashing .246/.288/.408 with an OPS of just .697, not exactly All-Star caliber. He does have 8 home runs and 33 RBI. His BA with RISP is good at .294, but still over 90 points behind his rival McNeil.
Defensively, Lux has a DRS of plus 3 at second. However, like McNeil he splits his time between second and the outfield, and Lux has a -3 for his outfield play. Albies is at plus one at second base, where he plays virtually all the time. McNeil is minus 1 at second but +1 for his outfield duties. McNeil has had a lot of big defensive oplays this year, most recently the bullet throw he made from the outfield to throw out the Angel runner at the plate Sunday night as the Mets edged the Angels to cap off the road trip.
Although this article is about position players, one Mets pitcher is almost to be selected to the squad, and that would be lockdown closer Edwin Diaz. He’s not going to start the game, but he just might finish it.
Met fans are enjoying the club’s long-awaited resurgence this year, with postseason play a very high probability. The computer gang at MLB.com puts the Mets postseason odds at 97.4%. But the All-Star game is more than just a sideshow, and I’m sure Mets fans and the players would enjoy having at least one if not two starters voted into the game.