Ramirez & Kwan Named All-Star Starters; Potentially More Guardian All-Stars to Follow

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A fantastic first half for the Guardians reached another milestone on Friday night when outfielder Steven Kwan and third baseman Jose Ramirez were named as American League starters for the 2024 All-Star Game in Texas. The pair won the honors via MLB’s two-tiered voting system which saw them qualify for the voting finals that began on Sunday and concluded Wednesday evening.

Ramirez was the top vote-getter at third base in the first phase of voting which saw him receive more than 2.3 million votes. He then followed up that performance by outpacing Orioles third baseman Jordan Westburg in the second round, getting 60% of the vote. This will be Ramirez’s third time starting at third base for the American League and his first time since 2018. Ramirez, by all accounts Cleveland’s franchise player, is now a six-time All-Star. With just two more appearances, he would tie the club record for most All-Star appearances.

Ramirez exited play on Wednesday slashing .274/.328/.545. Among American Leaguers, he is 2nd in RBI (76), 3rd in home runs (23), 5th in runs scored (65), tied for 9th in steals (16) and 8th in wins above replacement (3.1). Clearly showing the credentials to be deserving of this honor on the field, Ramirez has batted third in the Guardians order and helped propel the team to the 5th best offense in the AL by wRC+ as well as the second-best win-loss record on the junior circuit.

Kwan will be an All-Star for the first time. The two-time Gold Glove winner finished third in American League outfielder voting in the first phase as five outfielders qualified for the finals. He then narrowly beat another Oriole in Anthony Santander, securing 28% of the vote to Santander’s 25% in the finals. Kwan makes the All-Star outfield along with a pair of Yankees in Aaron Judge and Juan Soto.

While Kwan’s diminutive frame would suggest a significant difference in his performance compared to his All-Star outfield mates, he has pound-for-pound and game-for-game been one of the best players in baseball this season. I wrote about this recently, but in short, few players have been as valuable as Kwan has been on a per-game basis.

Now qualifying for the batting title after missing nearly a month with a hamstring injury, Kwan leads baseball in batting average at .360. No player is within 39 points. Among American Leaguers, he is also currently third in On Base Percentage (.417, only bested by Judge and Soto), a surprisingly potent 12th in Slugging (.521) and 6th in wins above replacement (3.5) despite missing 26 games. By all means, Kwan should lead off for the AL in the Midsummer Classic. He’s been arguably the best lead-off man in the game this year. He’s also achieved these offensive accomplishments while continuing to play world-class defense in left field.

With two incredibly deserving representatives in the bag, the Guardians could potentially have even more representatives named for the All-Star Game when the reserves and pitchers are finalized. For one, closer Emmanuel Clase should be a shoo-in. Leading relievers with a 0.67 ERA and having secured 25 saves, no pitcher in baseball has been more dominant.

Additionally, first baseman Josh Naylor could be poised to make the team for the first time. Naylor is currently 5th in the AL in homers (20) and 3rd in RBI (61), power numbers that make the best case for his naming among other worthy first-base candidates like Ryan Mountcastle and old friends Carlos Santana and Yandy Diaz.

Also able to potentially make outside cases for themselves would be starting pitcher Tanner Bibee and utilityman David Fry. Both would be first-time All-Stars if given the distinction.

In a starting rotation that has had many question marks, Bibee has been an incredibly needed source of stability. He’s pitched 93 1/3 innings with a 3.47 ERA. He also sports the 5th best strikeout rate of any qualified starting pitcher in the game.

For his part, Fry has made a name for himself in this season’s first half, slashing .303/.414/.511 with 8 home runs while playing all over the field in 63 games for the Guardians. Fry narrowly missed being a Phase 2 finalist at designated hitter among a stacked field at the position that included Yordan Alvarez, Giancarlo Stanton and Ryan O’Hearn. The fact that Fry got enough recognition to compete with much more known names like Alvarez and Stanton is significant in itself given that Fry was a relative unknown within the league coming into this year. He still could make the team, but likely has the longest odds of the Guardians other realistic candidates.

We will discover which other Guardians have made the team when the reserves are named on Sunday at 5:30 PM. They will be composed of choices mostly via a player vote as well as a few choices by the Commissioner’s Office. The All-Star Game will be played on Tuesday, July 16th at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.

With two All-Stars named and anywhere from one to four more in tow, one of baseball’s best teams should be well represented.

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