The voting for the 2018 Camping World All Star Game opened Friday, June 1st. So far 2018 has been a very strange year for baseball. If the off season free agency this year was any indication to how much of an off year was about to take place, we can now see that we have finally began to settle into the season. The Cardinals are certainly familiar with the strange year as indicated by Greg Holland’s rough start. Holland, a 2017 all-star, was signed on opening day by St. Louis with the intention to be their lights out closer. However, after missing spring training, Holland hasn’t played to the level that was expected and currently sits on the disabled list with a 9.45 ERA and 13.1 innings pitched. Despite his horrible start, the Cardinals fans and the organization as a whole expect more, and are hopeful that he will return healthy and back to form. Can Holland return as the dominant closer that he was for the Rockies. Only time will tell, but who on the Cardinals roster is making a splash as a contender for the 2018 ASG?
There has not been anybody who really stands out as top of the league in the St. Louis infield. Kolten Wong has shown great skill on the defensive side of the ball with many spectacular plays, but struggles at the plate to hit consistently. A couple of walk off home runs simply doesn’t earn a spot as an all-star.
Paul Dejong’s improvements at short stop this year made him a much better player as the season progressed. Leading up to his injury, while looking to be much improved, he simply does not compete with say Brandon Crawford of the Giants. Crawford, who is putting together a good season thus farlooks to be the standout shortstop in the league without much competition.
The Cardinals do platoon the majority of the infield. Platooning can be a clear indication that nobody really stands out this year as being superior in comparison to the rest of the NL, let alone the rest of the roster. One name worth mentioning however is Jose Martinez. It is hard to see Martinez as getting the nod at 1st base over Freddie Freeman who is having a fantastic year thus far. Martinez has not being solid defensively, he doesn’t seem to be a natural first baseman. It would be hard to place a vote for him over other candidates in the national league.
Tommy Pham. While being in a slump the past few weeks, it is important to note that Pham had an explosive start tothe season. Pham leads the Cardinals with homeruns, is second in slugging percentage (behind Paul Dejong), and is currently tied for second for batting average with Ozuna and Molina. Pham still ranks among the top of Cardinals starters offensively and has the best OWAR on the team at 1.6. Pham also holds the highest OPS on the team despite his current struggles at the plate. Tommy is certainly making a case for a run at an all-star start for 2018, and would cap his current rise to stardom with the St Louis Cardinals over the last year.
The other player that comes to mind in the outfield is Marcell Ozuna. While he hasn’t been the explosive power hitter fans had hoped for when acquiring him this off season, he has quietly raised his batting average to .272. While only currently having hit 5 home runs this season, he seems to have settled in at the plate adjusting his approach to be more productive. Ozuna currently sits second on the team with 28 RBI’s following only Jose Martinez. Marcell is still looking like a solid cleanup man, and after hitting a grand slam in the first, the buzz surrounding him is heating up. Assuming that Ozuna continues to play well, and the cardinals fan base rallies behind him, he may have a chance to get into the ASG.
Starting pitching has become the Cardinals bread and butteronce again in 2018. There are two pitchers who stand out when it comes to our starters; Michael Wacha, and Miles Mikolas. Should Carlos Martinez make a strong start on Tuesday, andpick up where he left off with his powerful start on the mound, he as well may have a chance to land a spot on the roster. Currently sporting a 1.62 ERA and 47 strikeouts over 8 starts, Martinez may just continue to show dominance and continue to make his case. Martinez has been on the DL since May 10th and is hoping to re-emerge as the Cardinal ace, but he is among good company.
Miles Mikolas looks like an ace on the mound. His ERA ranks 8th among qualified starters at 2.49 and a WHIP of 1.00. He leads the National league in strike percentage just currently edging Max Scherzer. Comparing him to all starters in the NL, he is without a doubt ranking near the top. Mikolas has been an excellent addition to the Cardinals rotation, and has also established himself as a contender to make it to the ASG. Should he continue to make quality starts, and bounce back from his first loss, Mikolas may see his ERA continue to trend downwards.
Michael Wacha nearly had a no hitter over the weekend, and lost it on a base hit in the 9th to the Pirates pinch hitter Colin Moran. Wacha is certainly not throwing nearly as many first pitch strikes as Mikolas, but still seems to be able to get to batters with swinging strikeouts. His curveball and changeup are great swing and miss pitches, coupled with good locating of his fast ball, Wacha has looked incredible as of late. Mikolas’s ERA with his 11 starts has been great, but Wacha has an ERA ranking 6th among qualified starters with a 2.41. Wacha may be on his way to having a career best season, and has been impressive.
Having 2 of the top 10 starters in the league, the Cardinals starting pitching may have the best chance at earning spots on the ASG roster. Don’t forget to support the position players you want to see at the Camping World 2018 All-star game. Follow the link below and place your votes now until July 5th 2018, so that you can see your favorites on July 17th in Washington DC.