Detroit Tigers: Who will make the All-Star Game?

DETROIT, MI - MAY 26: Jeimer Candelario #46 of the Detroit Tigers celebrate his two-run home run against the Chicago White Sox with Nicholas Castellanos #9 of the Detroit Tigers during the first inning at Comerica Park on May 26, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - MAY 26: Jeimer Candelario #46 of the Detroit Tigers celebrate his two-run home run against the Chicago White Sox with Nicholas Castellanos #9 of the Detroit Tigers during the first inning at Comerica Park on May 26, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Tigers, per league rules, will have at least one player present on the American League All-Star roster. Will they have any more than that?

The rebuild has rid the Detroit Tigers of many of their former All-Stars. Ian Kinsler, Justin Verlander, Justin Upton, J.D. Martinez and Alex Avila are all former All-Stars that are no longer playing in the Motor City. The team still has some left, with Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez combining for 16 All-Star appearances. Francisco Liriano was an All-Star in 2016. Even Jose Iglesias was an All-Star in 2015.

The 2018 team will field at least one All-Star, as all teams do. Finding one on this squad may be a bit challenging, however. Cabrera and Liriano are hurt, making their candidacy look unlikely. Iglesias and Martinez are playing considerably below even the average big league player, and have no shot at making the squad. That means that whomever makes the All-Star team for Detroit will likely be a first time All-Star.

The Tigers have a few players who could find themselves in uniform on July 17 at Nationals Park. Here are the candidates, in order of likelihood.

Nicholas Castellanos

His five home runs on the year have been a disappointment, but Castellanos is posting the best slash-line of his career at .325/.371/.507. His 137 wRC+ is a career high as well. He is posting a ridiculous 46.3% hard-hit rate, but has been bogged down by an 8.5% HR/FB rate, below his career norm. It stands to reason that some positive power regression is coming Nick’s way, which should help boost his power numbers ahead of the All-Star game.

Castellanos’ biggest challenge in making the All-Star game will be the competition around him. The AL All-Star ballot is loaded with outfielders. Mike Trout and Mookie Betts are locks to take two starting spots. George Springer, Justin Upton, Aaron Judge, Justin Upton, Mitch Haniger and Michael Brantley are all having excellent years as well. Castellanos has put himself in a good spot to garner some attention, and if he continues hitting well he should swoop a bench spot for the All-Star game. It’s hard to ignore anyone hitting over .315, especially if his power numbers pick up.

Joe Jimenez

Rebuilding teams that don’t have a lot of players playing at an All-Star level are often represented at the All-Star game by their most effective middle reliever. This is an easy way to get someone from each team in the game, without ignoring someone who might be performing better. Castellanos (and Matthew Boyd for that matter) are playing at or near All-Star caliber ball right now. But with a dearth of outfield and starting pitching talent in the AL, it’s possible that both get left off the roster. That means that Detroit’s spot would likely go to Jimenez, one of Detroit’s few (only) relievers who is playing well this year.

Jimenez sports a 2.39 ERA and a 9.57 K/9 on the year. His 2.39 BB/9 is a career low, and although his HR/FB rate is likely to increase from its current 2.7%, he is still shaping up to be the lights out reliever many had hoped for. Jimenez could earn Detroit’s All-Star spot out of necessity this year, but he will be earning All-Star game bids for years to come if he keeps pitching like this.

Jeimer Candelario

Candelario has an outstanding .363 OBP and a 139 wRC+ on the year. Those numbers alone make him worthy of All-Star consideration, not to mention his eight home runs, .272 batting average and 1.7 fWAR. The issue here, similar to Castellanos, is the strength of the third baseman he is competing against.

Jose Ramirez of the Indians is having an unbelievable season, and should get the nod to start the All-Star game this year. Veteran’s Adrian Beltre, Josh Donaldson and Kyle Seager may not be having great seasons, but all are capable of turning in big months and making a push.

Matt Chapman has similar numbers to Candelario, with elite defense to boot. Mike Moustakas has 11 home runs with a .277 batting average. Alex Bregman has a .384 OBP and a 131 wRC+.

This is not an easy year to make the All-Star game as a third baseman in the AL. Candelario has a shot no doubt, but he’ll need to have a very strong next six weeks if he wants to play in Washington.

Matthew Boyd

Raise your hand if you expected Boyd to be in All-Star consideration come June 1. Anyone? Boyd has posted a very stellar 3.00 ERA and elite 1.07 WHIP through 10 starts to open up the 2018 campaign. There are concerns about his numbers, with a ridiculously low 4.0% HR/FB rate and a low .241 BABIP. Regardless, Boyd has looked like Detroit’s best starting pitcher this season and if he keeps this up, he will be in consideration for an All-Star nod.

Obviously, the AL is chalk full of elite starting pitchers. Houston’s entire rotation deserves an All-Star spot, along with Luis Severino, Trevor Bauer, Corey Kluber, Chris Sale and James Paxton. Boyd will need to pitch as good or better over the next month to have a chance at nabbing a spot.

Still, the fact that he’s even being mentioned is a testament to how excellent he has been so far this season.

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The Detroit Tigers will have at least one All-Star in Washington this season. Hopefully, Castellanos and Jimenez each earn their way onto the squad. Boyd and Candelario may be long shots, but a strong June could get them there as well.