As Voting Begins, Who Will Represent Giants at MLB All-Star Game?

SAN FRANCISCO -- On Tuesday afternoon, MLB launched a revamped process for All-Star voting. You might have missed it for a couple of reasons. 

1. There really wasn't all that much of a rollout on the league's official social media channels. 
2. You're likely a Giants fan, so why would you be looking for an All-Star ballot right now, or anytime in the next month?

There are a bunch of new voting rules, but one thing hasn't changed. Every team will have a representative, including the Giants, who are 21-32 and have gone through so many changes that one of their listed outfielders on the ballot -- Kevin Pillar -- wasn't on the team on Opening Day and another -- Mac Williamson -- isn't on the team right now. 

The Giants don't have many good choices to stand on the line July 9 in Cleveland, but someone will, so here's a look at their options:

Will Smith: The heavy, heavy favorite to get a trip to Progressive Field, home of the Indians, although relievers don't get voted in.

When ballots were released Tuesday, Smith ranked sixth in the NL in saves (12), fourth among NL relievers in FIP (2.05) and fifth in WAR (0.8). He has a 2.61 ERA and is averaging a touch over 13 strikeouts per nine innings. 

By any definition, Smith has been excellent, and worthy of his first All-Star selection. But he actually has been so good that it might complicate things. Smith could be Farhan Zaidi's best trade chip, and there's a chance the Giants start the sale early and deal Smith to a contender at some point before the All-Star Game. If he's not traded, Smith is almost certainly your lone Giants All-Star. 

Pablo Sandoval: Both FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference have him as the team leader in Wins Above Replacement, but ... he's not even on the ballot. The Giants did actually look into whether there was a way to get the Panda on the ballot somewhere, but he's the backup at third to Evan Longoria, who is on the ballot, and hasn't played a single inning in left, where the Giants did have an opening. 

Sandoval has a .962 OPS, seven homers, and a league-high 10 pinch hits. But he has just 97 at-bats and pinch-hitters don't get treated like relievers do, so this one isn't almost certainly isn't happening. 

Buster Posey: If it's not Smith, Posey, a six-time All-Star, may be the choice by default. His numbers are down again, but they didn't jump off the page last year either and he was picked as a backup before backing out. J.T. Realmuto and Willson Contreras should be locks, and Yasmani Grandal has been much better than Posey at the plate. But a third catcher is generally taken, and after those three there's not much. 

Madison Bumgarner: He's 10th in the NL in innings, 13th in strikeouts, and sports a FIP (3.63) that is much better than his ERA (4.10). He's been fine, but he's not putting up All-Star numbers at the moment. Perhaps that changes over the next month. Or perhaps he just ends up being the choice as the ace of a team with basically zero star power at the moment. 

Joe Panik: He has steadily improved his numbers over the past month, and with the state of NL second basemen, that could be enough to get him on the All-Star bench. Panik is second among NL second basemen in OBP (.335) and fourth in wRC+ (92).

Mark Melancon, Sam Dyson, Tony Watson: The easiest way to make sure every team is represented is to pick relievers from bad teams. Melancon (2.21 ERA), Dyson (2.42) and Watson (2.84) could be considered if their closer is no longer an option. Reyes Moronta is the most dominant of the bunch, but his ERA is up to 3.55 after a few rough outings. 

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