Before the 2019 baseball season kicked off in Japan, many MLB specialists, gambling prophets, and true-to-the-blue fans would’ve picked Mitch Haniger as the most-likely player from the Seattle Mariners to attend the Major League Baseball All-Star Game. After all, on Tuesday, July 9, 2019, at least one Mariner player will be in Cleveland to play for the American League team. But after Haniger’s recent injury (oof!), who warrants the honor of representing our team this summer?
It shouldn’t be a difficult thing to determine. We have 25 players on our team to choose from and beyond all the losses, we fans have enjoyed more than a few outstanding performances this season, so surly someone is All-Star worthy.
Of course, there are a handful of Mariners who would have made great nominations, but after a slew of injuries and/or talent inconsistencies they’ve all but taken themselves out of contention. Sorry, Dee Gordon, Kyle Seager, Tim Beckham, Ryon Healy, Domingo Santana and Mallex Smith–you’re all awesome in your own ways, this just isn’t your year to play among the league’s best.
Also, voters aren’t allowed to nominate pitchers, so we can skip the Mike Leake and Marco Gonzales debate. Which is nice, because that’s a fairly sad debate that I’d rather not have.
So, let’s consider three possible All-Star Game candidates:
In the past, I’ve written about how awesome Omar Narvaez is and I stand by my assessment. Generally, catcher is a shallow position, but even so, Narvaez’s .280 batting average takes him all the way up to third among active catchers in the AL who have played more than 40 games.
However, his prolific bat is betrayed by his sub-optimal defense, which knocks him down a peg or two. Overall, it’s been an impressive season from Narvaez, and I don’t think anyone was expecting this kind of production from behind the plate, but I don’t think he’ll make the cut. Sorry Omar.
When the Mariners brought Edwin Encarnación onboard this offseason I was kind of “meh” about it. He’s a great hitter and any team can utilize a big bat, but he seemed like a short-term contributor who was all but assured to be traded mid-season to a contender.
Okay, so what, why not bring in some veteran leadership for the young guys and let us all watch him hit 15-20 homeruns before he heads out of town? And to be fair, he’s hit 21 bombs for the Mariners, tying him for third in the majors. Plus, his 49 RBIs are good enough to tie him for 9th league wide.
The only real downside to Encarnación being named our All-Star is an emotional one–he’s not very likely to be in Seattle for much longer, and that doesn’t quite feel right to me. Not the end of the world, but not the best option. If he gets the honor, I’ll be fine with it, but he’s not my pick.
Okay, now we’re talking about the right player, the record-setting source of the instantly iconic Vogelbombs, Daniel Vogelbach. He’s the most fun player on the team to watch (unless Smith is on the bases), because with his power and plate-discipline, every at-bat feeling like a must-see event with highlight potential. Not only is Vogie getting my daily All-Star votes (x5!), but he’s the best possible Seattle Mariner to send for three reasons.
First, he’s having a great season, slashing .261/.391/.558 with 17 HRs, 39 RBIs, and 42 walks (tying him for seventh in the MLB). Encarnación’s numbers are slightly better in some fields, but if/when he’s traded away, it will be only Vogie left standing to represent the Mariners in the league’s stat columns.
Second, he’s young and likely to be a significant piece of the Mariners’ multi-year rebuild. We should see him tearing the cover off the ball at T-Mobile Park for years to come, making an All-Star Game appearance a validation of a winning future that we’re all so desperate to believe in.
Third, this big fella should already be in Cleveland, because (and I don’t think I’m going out on a limb here) Daniel Vogelbach should be in the Home Run Derby. He’s not leading the league in homers, but he’s hit his fair share, and several of them have been legit bombs.
But more importantly, and in direct opposition to several of the league-leading power hitters, he’s fun to watch hitting them! Seriously, this needs to happen. It would be incredible!
Fortunately, you can cast your vote for multiple Mariners players, so don’t feel confined to a single nomination. However, if we’re removing the hometown pride from the equation, I think Vogelbach and maybe Encarnación are the only reasonable Mariners to nominate.
I recommend you fill out an All-Star ballot for yourself, and if I may be so bold, I strongly suggest you include Daniel Vogelbach in your nominations. Feel free to go exclusive Mariners if you want, but please make sure to at least #VoteVogie. Also, you can vote up to five times per day, so as the saying goes, vote early and vote often! So, what are you waiting for?
Go vote right today! https://www.mlb.com/all-star/ballot