You might think it's early to be talking about the All-Star game, but that voting will sneak up on you quickly. Before you know it, June's here and the rosters are all but decided.
So, let's take our first look at who the best candidates are at being Houston's representative at the All-Star Game this summer.*
*Let's be honest. Houston's only getting one All-Star, and they're only getting one because they have to. Baseball is a cruel mistress, isn't she?
The favorite: Jose Altuve
In the history of favorites, there may not be a bigger one than this. Jose Altuve is nigh a lock to make his second straight All-Star team.
Let's run through the pertinent points:
He's got national credibility. The How Many Altuves thing gave him a lot of publicity.
He's already made a team. It's like the Gold Gloves. Once you win one, you can win five in a row.
He's the best player on the team. By far.
No, really. Name a better player on the Astros right now than Altuve. As I mentioned in my recap on Sunday, Altuve is on pace to be a six win player this season. He's not going to be worth that, but there is every indication he'll be worth 3-4 wins.
That puts him squarely in All-Star territory on a team that will be lucky to have three other guys break 2.0 fWAR this season.
So far, Altuve has hit .370/.425/.479 with a home run, two steals and 0.7 fWAR.
The big name: Chris Carter
He may have more national prominence for playing in Oakland and for hitting mammoth home runs and for being traded 54 times. But, Carter certainly hasn't started out like a player who will be making an All-Star appearance.
The easy part for him is that he has the power. Nothing gets a player noticed faster than hitting a bunch of home runs. So far, Carter is on pace to hit around 30, and could have as many as 20 by the All-Star break. Of course, he needs to make more contact to get noticed.
So far, Carter has hit .212/.293/.424 with four home runs and 10 RBIs. Those don't exactly scream All-Star and it's pretty clear that everyone else on this roster is playing catch up to Altuve.
The sleeper: Justin Maxwell
If there is anyone on Houston's ragtag roster of nobodies who could surprise the league and make it, JMaxx could shock the world. The combination of speed, power and excellent defense in center field will get him noticed. The question is whether or not his strikeouts and lack of contact skills will hurt him too much.
Currently, Maxwell is hitting .236/.286/.389 with one home run, two steals in three tries and 0.4 fWAR in 77 plate appearances. Those are not the numbers of an All-Star. Keep hitting snooze on this sleeper.