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All-Star Game Starters vs. Total Runs Leaders

July 9, 2019
MLB changed the voting process for this year’s All-Star Game, but did that help get the most deserving players into the starting lineup? One way we can determine that is by using Total Runs, a statistic created by Baseball Info Solutions (BIS) that combines offense, defense, baserunning and a positional adjustment into one number, to evaluate the overall contribution a player has made to their team. (Total Runs also considers pitching, but because the starting pitchers are determined by the manager, only position players are considered here.)


There are a few differences in the American League between the selected lineup and the Total Runs leaders. Four of the leaders earned the start—one of those being annual free space Mike Trout—with some others missing out in what was essentially a toss-up.

Besides Trout, the other AL All-Star starters to lead their position in Total Runs were Carlos Santana, DJ LeMahieu and Jorge Polanco. Meanwhile, Gary Sánchez and Alex Bregman earned the starting nod and were within four runs of the leaders at their respective positions.

American League All-Star Starters and Total Runs Leaders

Pos All-Star Selection Total Runs Total Runs Leader Total Runs
C Gary Sánchez, NYY 55 Roberto Pérez, CLE 59
1B Carlos Santana, CLE 77 Carlos Santana, CLE 77
2B DJ LeMahieu, NYY 84 DJ LeMahieu, NYY 84
3B Alex Bregman, HOU 83 Matt Chapman, OAK 85
SS Jorge Polanco, MIN 91 Jorge Polanco, MIN 91
OF Mike Trout, LAA 106 Mike Trout, LAA 106
OF Michael Brantley, HOU 72 Mookie Betts, BOS 85
OF George Springer, HOU 59 Max Kepler, MIN 77
DH Hunter Pence, TEX 41 J.D. Martinez, BOS 59


Elsewhere, two Houston outfielders in Michael Brantley and George Springer start over Mookie Betts of the Red Sox and Max Kepler of the Twins despite falling short in Total Runs. At DH, J.D. Martinez has now been named the starter after Pence backed out of the game with an injury, although Total Runs says he perhaps should’ve been awarded the start to begin with.

The National League team, meanwhile, looks to be much stronger than its opponent, at least on paper. The starting lineup in the NL has combined for 719 Total Runs thus far, compared to 627 for the AL (645 if you plug in Martinez for Pence). This is in part due to the All-Star selections matching up more closely with the Total Runs leaders, with only two positions featuring a player who did not lead their position (and only one of those featuring a significant difference).

National League All-Star Starters and Total Runs Leaders

Pos All-Star Selection Total Runs Total Runs Leader Total Runs
C Willson Contreras, CHC 63 J.T. Realmuto, PHI 74
1B Freddie Freeman, ATL 85 Freddie Freeman, ATL 85
2B Ketel Marte, ARI 92 Ketel Marte, ARI 92
3B Nolan Arenado, COL 88 Nolan Arenado, COL 88
SS Javier Báez, CHC 90 Trevor Story, COL 91
OF Cody Bellinger, LAD 113 Cody Bellinger, LAD 113
OF Christian Yelich, MIL 102 Christian Yelich, MIL 102
OF Ronald Acuña Jr., ATL 86 Ronald Acuña Jr., ATL 86


Cubs fans will undoubtedly be happy to see Willson Contreras and Javier Báez in the starting lineup. However, according to Total Runs, neither has been the best at their position through the first half of the season. Contreras has been 11 runs worse than Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto, while Báez, though essentially tied, is edged out by Trevor Story of the Rockies.

All in all, the voters and the numbers match up about as well as they have in previous years. The Total Runs leaders were selected to start at 10 of the 17 available positions. From 2016–2018, the number of matching selections were 8, 11, and 10.

The top of the Total Runs Saved leaderboard can be found at Bill James Online.


COMMENTS (1 Comment)

Interesting comparison. I think the fans did better then you think. If there is a difference of 5 or less I count that as a victory.
6:54 PM Jul 9th
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