Who Should Represent Tigers At All-Star Game?

Right now, it's a question of three players.

Will Burchfield
June 11, 2019 - 3:29 pm

Balloting for the 2019 All-Star Game has begun, and the Tigers are sitting where you'd probably expect. 

As of the first AL update, just one player ranks among the top-10 vote-getters at his position: first baseman Miguel Cabrera (never mind the fact he'll hardly play first base for the rest of the season). And it will be an uphill battle for Cabrera to earn his 12th All-Star selection, as he sits seventh on the leaderboard. 

This is the new norm for the rebuilding Tigers. After sending at least three players to the All-Star Game every year since 2009 -- including an AL-best six in 2013 -- they've had just four representatives combined over the last three seasons. 

They're unlikely to get more than one this year -- July 9 in Cleveland -- and it will probably come down to three candidates. Let's take a look. 

Miguel Cabrera, 1B/DH

No, Cabrera isn't the same slugger who went to seven straight All-Star Games from 2010-16. His power is gone and unlikely to come back. That said, he's still the best hitter on this light-hitting Tigers team. His .296 average is tops on the club and second among qualifying AL first baseman. More impressively, he's batting .462 with runners in scoring position, second best in the majors. That's the mark of a professional hitter, the power notwithstanding. 

Of course, the rest of Cabrera's numbers don't stack up with his fellow first baseman. He'll have to go on a tear to catch the eyes of the fans before the initial ballots close June 21. (Vote here.) He's off to a good start this month, hitting .421 over five games in June. 

Matthew Boyd, SP

Pitchers are voted into the All-Star Game by players, managers and coaches around the league. In this regard, Boyd is probably the Tigers' best bet. He's enjoying a breakout season at age 28, touting a 3.08 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP over 14 starts. In all but one of those starts he's allowed three earned runs or fewer. And then there's the strikeouts. With 105 K's, Boyd ranks fourth in the AL -- quite the transformation for a guy who's never really been a strikeout pitcher. 

Just how valuable has Boyd been to the Tigers? For one, he's one of the only members of their original starting rotation who hasn't spent time on the IL. Moreover, his WAR of 2.8 (via FanGraphs) ranks fourth in the majors among pitchers. 

Shane Greene, RP

If Greene continues doing what he's done so far, there's a chance the Tigers send two pitchers to Cleveland. The starter-turned-reliever has thrived in his second full season as Detroit's closer. His 19 saves are tied for the most in the AL, and he's converted all but one of his chances. His 1.04 ERA ranks fourth among AL relievers and his 0.81 WHIP ranks sixth. He's held hitters to a .149 average, tied for third best in the AL. 

Who knows if Greene -- or Boyd, for that matter -- will be with the Tigers beyond the July 31 trade deadline. (Honestly, he could be gone before the All-Star Game.) But he's closed out all but five of their wins this season, and that merits consideration for the Midsummer Classic. 

Our Pick

We'll take Boyd. No disrespect to Greene, but Boyd's been the Tigers' best pitcher. And a great starter is more valuable than a great closer. Their discrepancy in WAR -- Greene sits at 0.6 -- is proof of that. That said, if there's room for two Tigers in Cleveland, Greene has every right to be there. Spencer Turnbull could also pitch himself into consideration over the next month, but his current numbers aren't quite All-Star worthy outside of his 3.01 ERA. 

As for Cabrera, it's hard to justify an All-Star selection for a first baseman who has just three homers and an OPS south of .800 a third of the way through the season.