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San Francisco Giants: Way-too-early All-Star Talk—Infield

Jul 14, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; National League manager Bruce Bochy (left) of the San Francisco Giants talks with third baseman Todd Frazier (21) of the Cincinnati Reds during batting practice prior to the 2015 MLB All Star Game at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 14, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; National League manager Bruce Bochy (left) of the San Francisco Giants talks with third baseman Todd Frazier (21) of the Cincinnati Reds during batting practice prior to the 2015 MLB All Star Game at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports
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The Major League All-Star Game isn’t for another two months, though fan voting for the game’s starters has already been open for two weeks. So this isn’t the absolute way-too-earliest time to consider which San Francisco Giants could be heading to San Diego for the Midsummer Classic—but it’s still way too early. We’re going to do it anyway, with the understanding that the list of the worthy is subject to change and will be updated periodically.

Here’s a position-by-position look at the Giants infielders and their respective chances of being all-stars:

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Catcher: Buster Posey is the most obvious choice, both for the catching position and for the Giants. He’s sort of a modern-day, West Coast Derek Jeter, in that he’s won several World Series titles early in his career, he’s the leader of that multi-championship team, and he’s a rare offensive star at a traditionally weak position.

However, at the moment, Posey isn’t the National League catcher most deserving of the all-star nod. Arizona’s Wellington Castillo leads NL catchers in home runs, RBI and OPS, while Milwaukee’s Jason Lucroy has been slightly more productive than Posey across the board.

Of course, it’s still way too early. Posey hasn’t gotten hot yet, and can Castillo really be expected to keep up his 35-homer pace? Even if he does, Posey is such a fan favorite—not only locally, but nationally—that his name will probably give him the starting nod, regardless.

First Base: In a year that Paul Goldschmidt, Adrian Gonzalez, Joey Votto and Freddie Freeman are off to slow starts, Brandon Belt is making a strong case for an all-star nod at this deep position. The only problem is that he is overshadowed by Anthony Rizzo, the best hitter on the upsurge Chicago Cubs. And with Cubs fans stirred into a frenzy over their team’s championship hopes, they’ll probably overwhelm the ballot box in support of their guy.

So, Belt currently has no shot at starting the All-Star game. But if the game were held today, he probably would be there, jostling with Milwaukee’s Chris Carter to be the first of the bench.

Second Base: A week ago, Joe Panik would have been in consideration for the All-Star bench. But he has since sat out a few days with a strained groin, followed by a 1-for-12 performance in his three games back from the injury, dropping his batting average from .280 to .257.

Meanwhile, Washington’s Daniel Murphy has a stranglehold on the starting role, with New York’s Neil Walker and Chicago’s Ben Zobrist making strong cases for spots on the All-Star roster. If Panik is going to have a shot, he’ll need to go on a hot streak soon to get his average in the .320 range, while continuing to rip all forms of extra-base hits and scoring hoards of runs.

Third Base: Matt Duffy is a nice player, but he’s no all-star at this point. Even if he were hitting at or slightly above his 2015 level, the starting gig would be unattainable. That belongs to Colorado’s Nolan Arenado—unless Cubs fans get their guy, Kris Bryant, in the starting lineup the way Giants fans did a few years ago with Pablo Sandoval.

A bench spot even appears out of reach at this point: New York’s David Wright, St. Louis’s Matt Carpenter, Cincinnati’s Eugenio Suarez and rookie sensations Brandon Drury of Arizona and Maikel Franco of Philadelphia all have stronger cases than Duffy.

Shortstop: Two unlikely rookies are atop the position’s leaderboard. Colorado’s Trevor Story has slowed down since a record-setting home run barrage last month, but he continues to produce (despite a league-leading 46 strikeouts). Meanwhile, St. Louis’ Aledmys Diaz has been All-Universe, batting .396 with 17 extra-base hits.

Arizona’s Jean Segura and Cincinnati’s Zack Cozart have also been stellar so far in 2016.

While Brandon Crawford is on the outside looking in, he isn’t necessarily out of the running for an All-Star spot. Between his outstanding defense and power potential, Crawford is within striking distance. He just needs a little hot streak. And for some others to cool off at the plate. And for Dodgers phenom/preseason Rookie-of-the-Year favorite Corey Seager to refrain from heating up until the season’s second half.

Next: Giants Leading a Tight Division

So that’s where the Giants’ infielders stand in the all-star pecking order, at this way-too-early juncture. Stay tuned for when we assess the all-star possibilities among San Francisco outfielders and pitchers.

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