As voting for the Midsummer Classic closes, the unofficial halfway mark of the season is very nearly upon us. On Tuesday, the league will announce the rosters for the All-Star game and afterwards many people will debate why an actual meaningful decision is even left to the general public in the first place. It's generally a bad idea to let sports fans decide anything of importance, especially when voting 30 times per person is allowed. So before all that hoopla happens, it seems appropriate to take a look at the Blue Jays players who should make the team this season. Since they don't play for the Royals they may not actually make it, but that won't mean they didn't deserve it.
The Slam Dunk
Josh Donaldson (3B) - The one and only slam dunk is an obvious one as the defending MVP has picked up where he left off last year in making the Oakland Athletics look stupid for trading him away. It's essentially as stupid as trading away P.K. Subban or Taylor Hall for that matter. Donaldson has continued to rake in 2016 and currently sits with an OBP right around .400. Based on the majority of his numbers, the third baseman is matching his 2015 output which could very well lead to another MVP trophy in his cabinet although Mike Trout won't want to miss out for another year running. In an up-and-down season for a lot of Jays players, Donaldson has been the rock that the team needs and is a big reason why Toronto is right in the thick of the AL East race. Aside from his bat, his defence is just as amazing as it was last year and he's sure to eclipse his stolen base mark from 2015 as well. It's impossible to appreciate Josh too much, hopefully we get the chance to watch this complete ballplayer for many years to come.
Right on the Bubble
Marco Estrada (SP) - The starting pitching race for this year's All-Star game is a dogfight with not a lot between the top ten or so guys. Two squads in the AL Central boast a pair of aces who should make the team and breakout Red Sox knuckler Steven Wright is also a shoo-in for the roster. That leaves very few remaining spots for a lot of deserving pitchers, including the dominant Marco Estrada. The righty is still flying under the radar on the (inter)national scene and deserves all the fanfare and attention that comes with an All-Star appearance. Despite peripherals that don't compare to the rest of the AL's elite, Estrada is doing a pretty good job convincing people that his suppressed BABIP may not be 100% luck. His lack of sexiness may work against him when it comes to the chances of being selected, but if he does make the trip down to San Diego it will be well-deserved.
Aaron Sanchez (SP) - Every case made for Estrada can also be made for Sanchez. The lanky righty's successful transition to the rotation hasn't been publicized much south of the border, but he's easily been one of the most valuable starters in the entire league. Remarkably he's still getting by on mainly just two pitches, his fastball and curveball, and currently sits near the very top of the leaderboards with a GB% of 58.1%. I personally think Sanchez will miss out because he doesn't have as much star power or major league pedigree as pitchers like Masahiro Tanaka or Cole Hamels. It might even come down to picking one of Estrada or Sanchez as the Jays rotation representative, which is a battle too close to call at this point in time.
Roberto Osuna (RP) - Picking relievers for the All-Star game is always a tough thing to do, and this season is no different. The Yankees three-headed beast may end up taking almost all of the available 'pen spots, making it very difficult for someone like Osuna to crack the squad. When you consider that the Mexican is still just 21-years-old and has been dominant for two seasons in a row, it seems almost unfair to not give him his due. The Blue Jays closer is pitching a tick better than 2015 and looks to be penciled in as the ninth inning guy for many years to come, unless the team decides to send him to the rotation. With normally only a handful of relievers getting the call, Osuna might be right on the fringe of making the team but either way it's an achievement he would clearly deserve.
Edwin Encarnacion (DH) - The Jays designated hitter is probably the best in the game at his position not named David Ortiz this year. The Red Sox lefty on his retirement tour has played out of his mind this season and will 100% be the starter for the American League. After that though, Encarnacion and Nelson Cruz are battling it out for the bench spot. Edwin currently holds the fan voting lead, but among the actual categories based in statistics it's nearly a dead heat. What likely happens is both players make it on the roster as reserves as it's way too close to call between the two power hitters.
Outside Looking In
Michael Saunders (OF) - The Canadian outfielder who was just a successful prospect's medical away from being a Cincinnati Red has made the Jays very thankful that that offseason trade did not end up going through. The lefty hitter has mashed this season to a wRC+ mark just below 150. Coupled with passable defence, Saunders has more than pulled his weight on this team and has an outside shot at earning some league-wide recognition in the midst of his breakout season. An elevated BABIP has helped, but Saunders' power streak is for real and is certain to land him a big payday this offseason.
Jose Bautista (OF) - Maybe Jose should go in the "Probably will make it but shouldn't category", but that doesn't exist in this article so he's in this one instead. The righty hitter has made six straight All-Star teams and it wouldn't be all that surprising if he made the 2016 roster as well based on past performance alone. The slugger is having the worst year of his career post-breakout, which is especially damaging financially considering it's his walk year. A wRC+ around 120 with 12 home runs isn't a terrible offensive output but his power is down and a low BABIP hasn't made matters any better. The toe injury has derailed any momentum he had going and even if he does make the roster, he probably won't make the trip to San Diego anyway. It's beginning to look like the Jays have half a season of Jose left before we're forced to see him sport a new jersey in 2017.
There you have it, the main hopefuls to represent Toronto at the All-Star game in San Diego during the second week of July. For all the criticism of the event, it's a nice opportunity to see some deserving players get the chance to live out their dream among the game's best. Who can forget the great story of Steve Delabar a few years back? While it shouldn't carry so much meaning, it's not a bad game to watch with the best of the best in the sport all sharing the same field. What's your prediction for which Blue Jays make the AL roster on Tuesday? Vote in the poll and leave a comment below.