Which Cubs Deserve to Be 2023 MLB All-Stars?

Hey. You. Voting for the 2023 MLB All-Star Game is officially live! In fact, voting has been live for about a week, and you can vote up to 5x each day (every 24 hours) up until June 22. Here’s a look at the rules/process.

  • For each league, you can vote for one player at each infield position, and DH, plus three outfielders (write-ins allowed).
  • The winners will automatically earn starting roster spots in their designated positions for the 2023 MLB All-Star Game.
  • The other top vote getters will remain on the ballot for the second phase of voting, which begins June 26. Those votes will contribute (but not solely decide) the position player reserves, which (along with pitchers) are chosen through a combination of player ballot selections and choices made by the Commissioner’s Office.
  • Anyway, go vote now. It’s actually a pretty fun process.

    But the real reason you’re here … which Cubs deserve to play in the 2023 MLB All-Star Game? I know it’s feels weird to even think about that when the Cubs are reeling and the season is ending before our very eyes. But they do have a couple deserving players, and I’d like to point them out for you.

    MLB All-Star Game: No Doubters

    Dansby Swanson

    You’ll have to vote him in, but there is absolutely ZERO doubt Dansby Swanson has earned the right to make his second All-Star team. In fact, this year, he should be the starter.

    Overall, Dansby Swanson is leading the NL shortstops in WAR (2.6) and has a .270/.361/.422 (118 wRC+) slash line that trails only Giants shortstop Thairo Estrada. Plus, Swanson has the same number of homers, more games played, one fewer run scored, and 8 more RBI. Swanson is also walking 3x more and striking out less often. And don’t even look at the expected statistics. Swanson blows Estrada out of the water.

    In terms of Defensive Runs Saved, Swanson (8) ranks fifth … in all of Major League baseball among ALL players. Naturally, he’s first in terms of DRS among all NL shortstops. Sticking with the defensive metrics, Swanson’s Ultimate Zone Rating (3.0) ranks second to Francisco Lindor, his Outs Above Average (8) ranks first, and his overall DEF rating (9.5) leads ALL MLB shortstops.

    He’s even a positively rated baserunner.

    I really don’t even know why we’re still talking. By fWAR, Swanson (2.6) has been the 9th most valuable position player in all of MLB. And by bWAR, Swanson (2.7) has been the fifth most valuable position player. He’s an All-Star. He’s the NL’s starting shortstop.

    Marcus Stroman

    You can’t vote for him, but the case for Marcus Stroman is almost as clear as the case for Swanson. I don’t think he’s necessarily a lock as the National League starter, but he’s certainly earned his place on the team. Just check out some of these rankings (league wide followed by NL only).

  • 79.0 IP (t-7th, t-3rd)
  • 2.39 ERA (7th, 2nd)
  • .186 AVG (3rd, 2nd)
  • 59.9 GB% (3rd, 3rd)
  • 0.57 HR/9 (5th, 3rd)
  • 2.8 launch angle (4th, 3rd)
  • 3.8 Barrel% (2nd, 1st)
  • And I really hate using fWAR, which is way too dependent on the sort of non-contact-management things Marcus Stroman (and a lot of Cubs pitchers), don’t do well, but even that has him tied for the 6th most valuable starter in the NL this season with 1.6 WAR.

    Switch to bWAR and Marcus Stroman (3.1) is the SINGLE MOST VALUABLE starting pitcher in baseball and actually tied with Ronald Acuña Jr. as the most valuable player in the game through this point in the season. LOL.

    Needless to say, he’s earned the right to join his second All-Star Team, as well.

    Deserving, But …

    Justin Steele

    Justin Steele has a very strong case for his first All-Star nod, with his 2.65 ERA, 5.9% walk rate, and NL leading 84.7 MPH average exit velocity, which trails ONLY Shohei Ohtani (84.5 MPH) in all of MLB. But he’s on the shelf right now. And while his last start was artificially shortened by the injury, the one before that was pretty brutal: 3.2 IP, 6H, 5ER, 0BB, 4K. One start does not spoil what was basically a Cy Young bid, but I’m just saying: He had a bad game, then got hurt, and is now on the shelf. He deserves it, and probably will get it, but he’ll need to come back and make a few healthy, effective starts to cement his position.

    Cody Bellinger

    Cody Bellinger was absolutely on an All-Star reserve pace (if not better), with his seven homers, nine stolen bases, 122 wRC+, and plus-plus defense in center field through the middle of May. But … he hasn’t played since the middle of May. He needs to get back on the field fast if he wants to re-earn that All-Star bid. Fortunately, if he does, I think he’ll be right back in the thick of it. His 1.4 WAR still ranks among the top-10 NL outfielders. He can get a spot if he comes back very soon.

    Just Outside the Bubble

    Each year, there are somewhere between 7-8 outfielders on each All-Star team roster, the three starters plus three-four reserves. Strictly speaking, none of Ian Happ, Seiya Suzuki, or Cody Bellinger are squarely in the running, but each has something to offer and has certainly flashed All-Star caliber at various points throughout the season.

    For example …

    Ian Happ

    Ian Happ’s .393 OBP ranks among the top-4 outfielders in the National League. In fact, it’s among the top-10 in all of baseball. That’s not nothing. Unfortunately, he’s currently a little short on homers (4), stolen bases (5), and RBI (23) to really separate him from the other outfielders. The defense has ranked poorly, as well, which is dragging down his WAR total (1.2 is still 13th among all NL outfielders, but that’s outside of the obvious All-Star range). Because he’s on the bubble — and because he’s been an All-Star before — I actually do think a hot few weeks could thrust him back into the reserve conversation, but we’ll just have to see. For now, he’s a no.

    Seiya Suzuki

    Since April 30, Seiya Suzuki is absolutely performing at an All-Star caliber player, at least offensively: .272/.368/.482 (131 wRC+) with seven doubles, a triple, and five homers. But you don’t just get to cherry-pick results. Even if we can explain away his cold first couple of weeks (94 wRC+), and we can — he was injured and didn’t have a Spring Training — All-Star voting doesn’t work that way. Plus, Suzuki isn’t really near the top in any one offensive category (though he’s pretty good across the board), which makes it hard for him to stand out. A homer binge will be needed.

    Drew Smyly

    Drew Smyly has had a fantastic season and is maybe on his way to the best year of his career. He also almost threw a perfect game earlier this season. But he’s not very flashy and his results are not quite as strong as some of the top starters in the National League. He has been very good though.

    Nico Hoerner

    Whoops. Forgot to add Nico Hoerner, though he goes in the “Just outside the bubble” section. We all know Hoerner’s defense at second base has been nothing short of Gold Glove caliber this season. And that his base running is legitimately excellent (he’s among the top-10 in stolen bases among ALL players, is second only to Whit Merrifield among all second baseman, and is leading the National League. However, his overall offensive performance, while perfectly valuable given everything else he brings to the table, ranks 12th among NL second baseman. Among NL second baseman, he’s 14th in homers, sixth in RBI, and third in runs scored. He certainly can play his way into consideration, but like everyone in this section, it’ll require some immediate, significant offensive contributions.

    Final Tally

    At a minimum, and barring a dramatic change, it seems the 2023 Chicago Cubs should send two players (Swanson, Stroman) to the 2023 MLB All-Star Game. There are two more players (Steele, Bellinger) who are pretty clearly deserving, but will have to come back healthy and productive to really solidify their spots. Until they do, they’re falling behind and risk falling off entirely. And then there are three more players (Suzuki, Happ, Smyly) that are probably just outside the bubble, despite having solid seasons. If they don’t go on a loud and productive runs very soon (like … the next week or two), they’ll miss the cut. Most likely, none of those three will be All-Stars this year.

    Beyond that, just to not completely ignore them, Yan Gomes has been having a very good season, but he’s not up there among the league’s best catchers. Patrick Wisdom may have 14 homers, but that’s it. And while only three NL relievers with more innings pitched than Adbert Alzolay have a lower ERA than his stellar 2.25 mark, he’s not a closer and won’t get that level of recognition.

    So with two virtual locks, and two more right there on the bubble, let’s set the over/under of Cubs in the 2023 MLB All-Star game at 2.5. Where do you think they land?

    written by

    Michael Cerami began covering the Chicago Cubs for Bleacher Nation as a part-time contributor in 2015. One year later, he joined Bleacher Nation full-time, covering the Chicago Cubs and Major League Baseball. Today, Michael runs Bleacher Nation, contributing as a writer (Cubs, MLB) and an editor for all sections of the site, including the Chicago Bears, Bulls, and Blackhawks, as well as MLB, NBA, NHL, and NFL. In 2019, Michael was the co-host of NBC Sports Chicago's Cubs Post-Game Show Outside the Ivy. You can find him on Twitter/X @Michael_Cerami

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