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AL All-Stars for June

Isiah Kiner-Falefa trots around the bases for the Toronto Blue Jays.

The official All-Star Game is fast approaching. Until then here are the AL All-Stars for the month of June.

Summer Sluggin’ has been on display across MLB. The writers of Back Sports Page have submitted our votes for the All-Star Game on July 16 as well. Some of the AL players on those ballots were also the best players in their position for the month of June. This month’s lineup features quite a few birds, a pair of Sox, and many other misfit mascots.

C Adley Rutschman

1B Carlos Santana

2B Isiah Kiner-Falefa

3B Rafael Devers

SS Gunner Henderson

LF Jarren Duran

CF Aaron Judge

RF Steven Kwan

DH Yordan Álvarez

SP Logan Gilbert

RP Carlos Estévez

All About Average Outfielders

The outfield trio of Aaron Judge, Jarren Duran, and Steven Kwan features the worst one of the three hitting .365 for the month. Judge has been on a tear since he started the season poorly. There is even way too early speculation that Judge and DH Shohei Ohtani could both win the Triple Crown for their respective leagues. At the halfway point in the season, it is still too early to bet your lunch money, but it will be something to watch. Nonetheless, Judge hit .409/.514/.864 this month. He led MLB in WAR (2.5), average, RBIs (37), and OPS (1.378). The one area of concern is Judge was third in home runs. Not a good sign for a player who’s made his mark as a power hitter.

Duran has quietly been one of the best outfielders in baseball. A fact not reflected in the first round of All-Star voting where he finished sixteenth amongst AL outfielders. It’s almost like he’s been invisible. Duran has yet to miss a game this season, so watch out Cal Ripken Jr. Duran is 83 games on his way to 2,632, or 3% of the way there. Also, his speed creates runs out of thin air on a daily basis. I will now dismount my soap box and say in June he stepped his game up even more. His average was .365, and he finished third in MLB in WAR (1.9). Nine stolen bases were second in MLB.

Kwan helped lead the Cleveland Guardians through another month atop the AL Central. A leadoff man like Kwan is a major asset. He hit .374 with 19 runs and 12 RBIs this month. Needless to say, the Guardians are showing they may miss Terry Francona, but they do not need him to succeed this season.

 Infielders in Ideal Form

There are two pairs of teammates on the AL team this month. The first two, Duran and Rafael Devers, helped propel the Red Sox to a 15-10 record in the month. Devers led MLB third basemen with a 1.015 OPS and was second in homers (8), runs (20), and third in RBIs (19), all while batting .300 for the month. He should also be at the All-Star Game in spite of not being voted a finalist. Next year we need to show up to the polls, Sox Nation!

Carlos Santana performed mini-Minneapolis miracles all month. The Twins still have not caught the Guardians in the AL Central, but through no fault of Santana’s play. Santana was third in WAR among MLB first basemen, behind only Bryce Harper and 1B Freddie Freeman. He hit .337 with four home runs and 16 RBIs. Santana could have been a triplet with teammates 3B Royce Lewis and SS Carlos Correa each deserving consideration. But Devers beat Lewis and Gunner Henderson beat Correa.

Speaking of Henderson, he and Adley Rutschman have led the flight of the Orioles, who just passed the New York Yankees for first in the AL East. The race for Beast of the East is a two-team race this season. Henderson’s play is warranting serious MVP consideration this year. In June alone, he hit .342 with eight homers and 31 runs, while also leading MLB in WAR (2.5). Not bad for a 22-year-old (he turned 23 on Saturday). Makes me wonder what I am doing with my life at 23. The Orioles are third in MLB in team ERA thanks in large part to Rutschman’s play calling. His hitting certainly helps put the staff at ease as well. For the month, he led catchers with a 1.2 WAR and five home runs.

The Other Guys

DH Yordan Álvarez led all DHs in average, was second in WAR, and third in home runs (7) and fifth in RBIs (19). He makes me miss the days of a particular Caribbean slugger the Sox used to have at DH. Alas, us Sox fans will try unsuccessfully to make do with Masataka Yoshida. Thanks, Chaim Bloom. Alvarez’s offense compensated for the now released fellow Cuban, 1B José Abreu.

2B Isiah Kiner-Falefa has been a bright spot for the struggling Toronto Blue Jays. His average (.333) was tied for first among AL second basemen. In addition, his home runs were third and RBIs (16) were also second for AL second basemen.  2B José Altuve had a strong case but it is good to spread the love to as many teams as possible. Maybe the Blue Jays will sell high on him before the trade deadline. It is also possible the Jays make a bigger splash and move a marquee name like SS Bo Bichette or 1B Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

West Coast Wonders

SP Logan Gilbert gets the call after throwing 35.2 innings with a 1.51 ERA. It is unfortunate he only went 2-1 in his five starts. Either way, the Seattle Mariners maintained their spot atop the AL West. The Astros are climbing but Seattle is equipped to take them to deeper waters as the season goes on.

Lastly, Carlos Estévez is the only Angel in the lineup for Los Angeles. The Angels went 15-11 in June in large part on Estévez’s ability to shut the door on teams. He earned eight saves with a 0.00 ERA and ten strikeouts in ten innings. In other words, he has made himself into a valuable trade piece for a contending team because the Angels are still comfortably in the basement of the AL West.

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