Richard Justice

Quiet strength: 10 under-the-radar ASG picks

Quiet strength: 10 under-the-radar ASG picks

Corey Dickerson isn't a household name. Not yet, anyway. We're headed that way, but still. Likewise, Eugenio Suarez, Zack Cozart and Avisail Garcia aren't there yet, either. No big deal.

Plenty of baseball fans likely will be learning about them if they're looking at the numbers in filling out Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballots in preparation for the 2017 MLB All-Star Game presented by MasterCard on July 11 at Marlins Park in Miami.

Cast your Esurance All-Star ballot for #ASGWorthy players

This All-Star Game will almost certainly have Mike Trout and Bryce Harper. Paul Goldschmidt and Kris Bryant are likely to be there, too. They've all earned it.

But one of the best parts of any baseball season is watching players emerge. Or in some cases, re-emerge.

We've seen that a lot in the composition of recent All-Star rosters. When last year's rosters were announced, there were 25 first-time All-Stars, including 11 first-time starters.

With this evolution in mind, let's consider 10 under-the-radar players who have rock-solid All-Star credentials (stats through Sunday):

1. Corey Dickerson, OF/DH, Rays
1.7 WAR, fifth highest among American League position players
.340 BA, 6 HR, 13 RBI, .963 OPS

Dickerson's fifth season has seen this 27-year-old take a significant step forward, and his 1.7 WAR is first among AL designated hitters and fourth among outfielders, trailing only Trout (2.5), Aaron Judge (2.2) and Mookie Betts (1.9). Dickerson is on the ballot as a DH, but he has split time almost evenly between left field (17 games) and DH (20 games). Regardless, he deserves a trip to South Florida.

2. Eugenio Suarez, 3B, Reds
1.7 WAR, sixth among National League position players
.295 BA, 7 HR, 22 RBI, .899 OPS

Suarez has shown flashes during one season with the Tigers and two with the Reds. This year has been a breakthrough. He has been baseball's best defensive third baseman, which is a significant statement at a time when Nolan Arenado and Evan Longoria are still very good. Suarez leads all NL third basemen with a 1.7 WAR and has solid traditional numbers as well.

3. Miguel Sano, 3B, Twins
2.4 WAR, second among AL position players, trailing only Trout (2.5)
.297 BA, 10 HR, 30 RBI, 1.106 OPS

Sano's third season may be a turning point of sorts. He has just turned 24 years old as he approaches his 1,000th Major League plate appearance amid huge expectations. Sano has bat speed and strength that generate seemingly easy power, as evidenced by 99-mph average exit velocity that leads the Majors, according to Statcast™.

Sano's 10th home run of the year

4. Brett Gardner, OF, Yankees
1.6 WAR, tied for sixth highest among AL position players
.289 batting average, 7 HR, 14 RBI, .902 OPS

Gardner is one of the pleasant surprises in a Yankees season filled with them. His defensive game remains solid, and at 33, his 10th Major League season has been his best offensively.

5. Ryan Zimmerman, 1B, Nationals
2.0 WAR, fourth among NL position players
.385 batting average, 13 HR, 36 RBI, 1.222 OPS

Zimmerman would be the NL MVP Award winner at this point if not for his teammate, Harper. The Nats wondered how good he could still be if he was healthy, and this season has provided the answer. There are few better players in the game.

Zimmerman's two-run homer

6. Jedd Gyorko, 3B, Cardinals
1.5 WAR, 10th among NL position players, third among third basemen
.333 batting average, 7 HR, 18 RBI, 1.010 OPS

Jhonny Peralta's injury allowed Gyorko a chance to play full-time at third base, and Gyorko did the rest. He got hot in late April and has been hot ever since. To be picked for his first All-Star Game surely would be one of the sweetest stories of the 2017 festivities when the injuries and tough seasons are factored into the mix.

Gyorko's huge day vs. Brewers

7. Zack Cozart, SS, Reds
1.6 WAR, tied for seventh among NL position players, first among shortstops
.336 batting average, 2 HR, 14 RBI, .995 OPS

Cozart has been baseball's best defensive shortstop this season, which is not a surprise. It's spraying hits all over the diamond that has elevated him to an elite level.

8. Justin Turner, 3B, Dodgers
1.6 WAR, tied for seventh among NL position players, second among NL third basemen
.359 batting average, 1 HR, 17 RBI

While there's a nice Bryant-vs.-Arenado debate regarding the NL's best third baseman, Turner deserves to be in that debate as well. Every part of his game is solid, beginning with a .433 OBP.

9. Avisail Garcia, OF, White Sox
1.5 WAR, eighth among AL position players, sixth among outfielders
.344 batting average, 6 HR, 25 RBI

Just when a lot of people were beginning to wonder if he'd ever realize the greatness forecast for him, Garcia has raised his batting average 99 points since last season and emerged as one of the best offensive players in baseball.

10. Marcell Ozuna, OF, Marlins
1.4 WAR, third among NL position players
.316 batting average, 11 HR, 29 RBI

This is the season the Marlins always knew Ozuna had in him, and with the All-Star Game at their home park, Ozuna's timing is outstanding. He's still only 26 years old, and having made his debut four years ago at 22, he has hit some of the same speed bumps plenty of young players hit.

Richard Justice has been a reporter for since 2011. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.