Gary Sanchez and Luke Voit have provided plenty of pop for a spectacular Yankees infield this season. (AP)
A few years back, fan voting almost gave the Kansas City Royals the entire American League starting lineup for the All-Star Game, despite at least one of the players nearly chosen not necessarily being the ideal candidate at their position.
The New York Yankees are likely to have a few All-Stars this year, and while the outfield has been in flux this season, it's not out of the realm of possibility that the entire infield could play in this year's Midsummer Classic -- and all be deserving of the honor.
Don't believe it? Well, 59 games into the 2019 season, the Yankees are 38-20 -- the fourth-best record in the Majors and third-best on the junior circuit -- and lead the AL East by 2 1/2 games. That is due, in large part, to these five individuals.
CATCHER: GARY SANCHEZ
There aren't any catchers in the AL qualified for the batting title as of June 3, but among the 16 with at least 100 plate appearances, Sanchez's .653 slugging percentage is nearly 150 points ahead of second place (James McCann and Josh Phegley are at .507), and his .995 OPS is not only 108 points ahead of McCann's for best among backstops, it's the fifth-best in the AL among players with at least 150 plate appearances period.
That's all without mentioning that the Sanchino's 35 RBI lead all AL catchers, his 26 runs scored are tied with Omar Narvaez for tops in the league, and his 18 dingers lead the league outright. If Sanchez isn't the fan-voted starter, he's almost certain to be a first-ballot players pick.
FIRST BASE: LUKE VOIT
On Sunday night, Voit went deep for the 15th time, putting him in a tie for seventh place in the American League. That tie includes three other first basemen, but what Voit has above that group is overall positioning: his 40 runs scored lead all AL first basemen; his 39 RBI are second behind Jose Abreu's 50; his 33 walks are tied with Dan Vogelbach for third; his 57 hits are tied for third with Abreu and just two off the AL first-base lead; and the individual parts of his .268/.379/.521 slash line rank first, first, and second (Vogelbach has a .554 SLG) among the four in that tie.
First base has many qualified candidates this year, but Voit, who has been hitting second in the Yankees order much of the year (he's been there for 33 of the team's 58 games), certainly has a resume comparable to -- and perhaps better than -- the rest.
SECOND BASE: DJ LEMAHIEU
At least on social media, quite a few observers were puzzled when the Yankees signed LeMahieu this past winter, ostensibly to be a utility man. Where might the first-place Yankees be without him?
LeMahieu has roamed the diamond but settled in at second base since injuries sidelined Troy Tulowitzki and Miguel Andujar, and all he's done is what he's always done: rake. As of Monday morning, LeMahieu's .311 average leads all qualified AL second basemen (and is eighth in the AL overall), and his .361 on-base percentage is tied with Tommy LaStella for tops among junior-circuit keystoners.
In addition, his 65 hits and 37 runs scored are both second to Whit Merrifield, who has moved to right field for Kansas City, and, while defense isn't really too much of a consideration for All-Star candidacy, he is still playing Gold Glove-caliber D in pinstripes. He's also done all that while hitting in six different spots in the order, although he has most frequented the leadoff spot, where his 37 starts are 17 more than Brett Gardner, the only other Yankee to lead off more than once this season.
SHORTSTOP: GLEYBER TORRES
Folks, #GleyberGood isn't just a hashtag, as there has been no sophomore slump for Torres, who has spent most of the season back at his natural shortstop position and flourished like the two before him. Torres' 14 home runs lead his position (and have him in the Top 15 in the AL), and he ranks in the top five among AL shortstops in runs, hits, RBI, slugging percentage and OPS so far this season. He has also been the Yankees' most frequent hitter in both the No. 4 and No. 5 spots (19 and 21 times, respectively) in the order, so he's done it in a position where production isn't a bonus, but a necessity.
THIRD BASE: GIO URSHELA
When the Yankees traded for Gio Urshela last August, the move was made to replenish some depleted Triple-A depth. When they re-signed him to a Minor League deal this past winter, it was again a depth signing, Urshela ideally the Triple-A third baseman and a depth option only in emergency.
That latter situation came to be thanks to a season-ending injury to Miguel Andujar and Troy Tulowitzki's situation moving LeMahieu to second base full-time. Urshela, however, has been much more than an emergency stopgap; in fact, while Urshela is 18 plate appearances shy of qualifying for the batting title, his .329 average would lead third basemen and be tied for fourth in the AL if he had that proper total -- and, even if you tack on an 0-for-18 to his current line, his .293 average would still be fourth among qualifiers at the hot corner.
Again, with defense of little consideration, we won't mention his Gold Glove-caliber play at third, but Urshela's .377 OBP is also fourth among AL third basemen with at least 150 plate appearances, and this line has come seemingly out of nowhere from a player who had a .225 career average in 466 Major League at-bats prior to this season. The Yankees have a knack for finding undervalued diamonds in other teams' rough, and that prophecy has come true at both infield corners this season.