BRENT STECKER

All-Star Game voting guide: Which Mariners are in the running

May 31, 2018, 11:24 PM | Updated: 11:38 pm
Jean Segura and Mitch Haniger are two Mariners in the mix to be All-Stars. (AP)...
Jean Segura and Mitch Haniger are two Mariners in the mix to be All-Stars. (AP)
(AP)

Voting has started for the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, which is set for July 17 in Washington, D.C. With the Mariners currently in playoff position, they’re expected to have multiple representatives on the American League team.

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Here’s a look at which Mariners players are in contention to be 2018 All-Stars.

Lock

Relief pitcher: Edwin Díaz

A hard-throwing 24-year-old right-hander, Díaz has made a case to be considered the best closer in baseball this year, right up there with Colorado’s Wade Davis and Boston’s Craig Kimbrel. With a MLB-leading 19 saves and an impressive 48 strikeouts over 28 2/3 innings, Díaz has blown just two saves and owns a 0.9 WAR through 29 appearances. The winner of the AL Reliever of the Month award for April is well on his way to his first of probably several All-Star nods.

Likely

Outfield: Mitch Haniger

Haniger has been one of the Mariners’ best hitters ever since he arrived in Seattle last year, but injuries last season prevented him from truly establishing himself on the national map. He’s been 100 percent healthy in 2018, though, and he’s been piling up hits and RBIs at a rate that suggests he’ll be able to find a place as a reserve for the AL in D.C. He’s tied for third in the AL in RBIs (43), 15th in homers (11), and is 15th in OPS (.865).

Starting pitcher: James Paxton

It will be pretty hard to keep Paxton from making his first All-Star team – not just because he threw a no-hitter, but because outside of two rough starts he’s been on a roll for the whole season. After Wednesday’s outing, he’s 4-1 with a 3.13 ERA and 95 strikeouts (fourth in the AL) over 12 starts (74 2/3 innings). But there’s a lot of competition at starting pitcher, and he could be the odd man out depending on how things shake out considering each team is guaranteed one representative.

On the bubble

Shortstop: Jean Segura

I will go on record stating that I think Segura is the Mariners’ best player right now and he 100 percent deserves to make his second career All-Star team. The problem is, even though he ranks second in the AL in average (.339) and total hits (76), is tied for third in stolen bases and has been playing exceptional defense, it’s entirely possible that he gets edged out. That’s because he plays in the same league as Baltimore’s Manny Machado, Houston’s Carlos Correa, Cleveland’s Francisco Lindor and Anaheim’s Andrelton Simmons. My advice: If Mariners fans want to see Mean Jean the Hitting Machine in the All-Star Game (and they should), the best chance of that happening is for him to win the fan vote and be the starter at short. If he doesn’t win that, there just might not be room for him on the roster – which would be an absolute shame.

Second base: Dee Gordon

Gordon’s recent 10-day disabled list stint may hurt his chances, as will the fact that he’s not a power hitter. But he still leads the AL in stolen bases with 16 and probably could overtake Atlanta’s Ender Inciarte for the MLB lead before too long. Plus, he’s hitting .302. Houston’s Jose Altuve will almost assuredly be the starter at second, so Gordon will have to battle it out with Oakland’s Jed Lowrie to be the backup.

Long shot

Designated hitter: Nelson Cruz

Cruz was one of two Mariners in the All-Star Game last year, but injuries have slowed him down this year and he’s hitting just .247. He still has 10 homers, however, and with the way he’s been swinging the bat this week you have to imagine his average and OPS will rise over the next month. Still, it will be hard for him to carve out a spot with Boston’s J.D. Martinez, New York’s Giancarlo Stanton and Anaheim’s Shohei Ohtani all on the ballot at DH.

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