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MLB All-Star Game 2015: Should Sonny Gray start for the American League?

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Plus an update on the American League voting, with Athletics catcher Stephen Vogt still lagging behind Salvador Perez and Josh Reddick still on the leaderboard.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Oakland Athletics catcher Stephen Vogt picked up about 1.1 million votes, but Russell Martin picked up 1.7 million votes to cause Vogt to fall further behind in the race for second place in the American League All-Star catcher voting. Royals catcher Salvador Perez earned 1.4 million more votes but still leads the catcher voting by over five million with three days remaining to vote.

Josh Reddick was passed by Jacoby Ellsbury to fall to 11th in the outfield voting, though both players received just over 300,000 more votes in the past week.

In the race for most overall votes, Josh Donaldson leads a group of four players with over 11 million. Salvador Perez, Miguel Cabrera, and Mike Trout are the others.

There are now only five Royals in the starting lineup after Donaldson passed Mike Moustakas at third base and Nelson Cruz passed Kendrys Morales at designated hitter. Omar Infante still leads the second base voting, though his margin over Astros second baseman Jose Altuve has slimmed from 440,000 votes to 230,000 votes.

Sonny the Grayt

Let us count the ways that Sonny Gray would make an excellent starting pitcher for the American League All-Star Game: he's the (1) league leader in ERA, (2)top 10 in strikeouts, (3) 12 of 16 in quality starts, (4) fewest home runs allowed per nine innings, and on and on. What might keep Gray as a reserve is that there are several excellent candidates to start the game.

Let's quickly narrow the list of potential starters using the Bill James/Rob Neyer method of predicting the winner of each league's Cy Young Award, which considers innings pitched, earned runs, strikeouts, saves, shutouts, wins, losses, and a bonus for leading one's team to a division championship:

Neyer/James Cy Young Predictor, starters only (AL rank among qualifiers (W-L by PCT))
RK PLAYER TEAM CYP GS ERA K IP SHO W-L VB
1 Dallas Keuchel HOU 106.6 16 2.17 (2nd) 95 (T-9th) 116.1 (1st) 2 (T-1st) 9-3 (T-4th) 12
2 Chris Archer TB 99.6 17 2.31 (3rd) 133 (1st) 109.0 (4th) 0 (T-12th) 9-5 (13th) 12
4 Sonny Gray OAK 90.9 16 2.09 (1st) 97 (T-7th) 107.2 (6th) 0 (T-12th) 9-3 (T-4th) 0
5 Felix Hernandez SEA 84.7 16 3.05 (12th) 100 (T-4th) 103.1 (8th) 2 (T-1st) 10-4 (7th) 0
8 David Price DET 76.4 16 2.62 (6th) 100 (T-4th) 110.0 (3rd) 1 (T-3rd) 7-2 (T-2nd) 0
9 Edinson Volquez KC 75.8 15 3.18 (15th) 65 (T-33rd) 90.2 (T-25th) 0 (T-11th) 8-4 (T-10th) 12
VB: Victory Bonus is a 12-point bonus awarded for leading one's team to the division championship

I am comfortable eliminating Felix Hernandez on account of his ERA and Edinson Volquez on account of throwing 20 fewer innings than the rest of the field. David Price is on the outside looking in as his ERA is a third- to a half-run above the rest; the rest of the field would have to falter.

Who do I want to start? Sonny Gray, of course, but I'm an A's fan. You can make a strong case for Dallas Keuchel, the groundball pitcher that frequently goes deep into games yet still has a top 10 strikeout total. Keuchel is now starting to get the King's Court treatment in Houston:

Chris Archer electrifies the fans disguised as empty seats at Tropicana Field with his league-leading 133 strikeouts. Chris Sale and Corey Kluber are the only ones in the vicinity, but their poor early season performance might keep them out of the game entirely.

It looks like all three pitchers will avoid disqualification from appearing, as they will not pitch the Sunday before the game. Gray starts this Tuesday, and is on turn for his last start to come on Saturday, July 11, meaning he could appear in the All-Star Game on two days rest. An off day on July 6 could allow Gray to start on Friday, July 10 instead.

Keuchel also starts this Tuesday, though the Astros rotation is up in the air after the club optioned Brett Oberholtzer to Triple-A and with an available off day on Thursday. Either way, however, Keuchel will make his last start before the break either on Friday, July 10 or Saturday, July 11.

Finally, Archer's next start is this Friday, and that means his last start before the All-Star Break is Wednesday, July 8. He would be the most rested starting pitcher available among the three candidates.

I can't separate them. I can't predict what's going to be the most important in American League manager Ned Yost's mind. Gray and Keuchel have two starts left, Archer one, and maybe that will open up a gap. For now, it's anyone's guess.