After throwing eight innings last night against the Diamondbacks, Dallas Keuchel's numbers look pretty good. Heck, even Richard Justice is noticing.
Astros are 9-4 in Dallas Keuchel's starts, 21-33 otherwise. He's No. 1 in AL pitcher WAR, 3rd in WHIP, 5th in ERA. Slam dunk All-Star.— Richard Justice (@richardjustice) June 12, 2014
Yep, Keuchel has been that good so far this season. But, Houston's had another player who's getting just as much attention. The Astros only have one player in the top vote-getters at each American League position. That player is Jose Altuve, who's in fifth at second base. Here is that leaderboard:
It's pretty easy to see that Robinson Cano will be the runaway winner to start the game at second base. There's also a strong likelihood that Kinsler and Pedroia make the team due to strong seasons or fan loyalty for past strong seasons. Oh, and Brian Dozier may just be the best player on the Minnesota Twins and could get their only All-Star nod.
Where does that leave Jose Altuve?
Well, he's certainly got the chops to make the team based on his statistics. Altuve leads the Astros in WAR at 1.8 this season and is the only Astro with a batting average over .300. Only Dozier and Kinsler have a better WAR total than Altuve out of American League second basemen. He's got the third-highest wRC+ of any AL second baseman, behind Dozier and Cano. He's got the second-highest baserunning factor, behind Dozier and the third-highest wOBA behind Dozier and Cano.
By all accounts, if Altuve isn't the best second baseman in the American League, he's in the top three.
Is that good enough to give him a spot in the All-Star Game? Well, in 2013, the American League roster featured four second baseman. But, that's slightly misleading. For one, Ben Zobrist was listed as a second baseman on that roster when he's more of a utility player. Secondly, 2013 was an anomaly.
In the previous nine years, the American League averaged 2.3 second baseman on its roster. The team only carried one backup second baseman in three of those seasons (2010, 2009, 2006). Even with the roster expansion in recent years, second base hasn't been a hotbed position for All-Stars.
But, if there were ever a player who could win a spot despite those odds, it's Altuve. The Astros second baseman is well-liked by other players and could easily be voted in over Pedroia or Kinsler on the player's ballots. He could also be put into the Final Vote contest if he misses the roster when it's released.
This, too, could make him an easy candidate to make the team. As "How Many Altuves?" showed us, people are drawn to Altuve not just for his play on the field, but for his height. He's a likeable guy who has a hook for people to know him, even if the Astros haven't had a nationally-recognized player for years.
There are other possibilities, of course. Dexter Fowler is having a fine season himself and could easily make the All-Star Game, if not for the crowded AL outfield that could feature Mike Trout, Jose Bautista, Melky Cabrera, Adam Jones, Jacoby Ellsbury and Yoenis Cespedes. George Springer could also be put in the fan's Final Vote, as he's a write-in candidate as it is.
But, right now, the two most likely Astros to suit up for the All-Star Game at Target Field are Keuchel and Altuve. Would there be a more appropriate sign that the Astros have turned a corner on this rebuild than by having two All-Stars? It hasn't happened for the Astros since 2009.