The Texas Rangers, Washington Nationals and Arizona Diamondbacks have been playing for a whole lot of nothing over the second half of the 2022 MLB season, but try telling that to Nathaniel Lowe, Joey Meneses and Zac Gallen, who have been producing at an All-Star level for the past two months.
It's a shame that we spend so much time arguing over who deserves to go to the All-Star Game every year, only to then do basically nothing to recognize exceptional play over the latter half of the season.
We're going to try to right that wrong with this roster of second-half all-stars.
Everything accomplished prior to July 21 is irrelevant here.
For each of the nine non-pitching positions (including DH), we've named a starter and a reserve for this all-star team while also noting a handful of players at each position who almost made the cut. And then for pitchers, it's the five best starters and the five best relievers since the Midsummer Classic (with a few honorable mentions for each).
Starter: J.T. Realmuto, Philadelphia Phillies
2nd-Half Stats: .321/.392/.631, 12 HR, 28 R, 42 RBI, 5 SB
During Philadelphia's "bad enough to get Joe Girardi fired" start to the season, Realmuto was not faring well. In those 51 games, he batted .247 with three home runs and four stolen bases.
But he turned a corner in early July and has been thriving ever since with a 1.034 OPS over his last 57 games played.
After going 5-for-5 with a home run in Tuesday night's 18-11 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays, Realmuto now trails only Aaron Judge in both slugging percentage and FanGraphs WAR (among qualified hitters) for the second half of the season. And if he steals three more bases down the stretch, he'll join Ivan Rodriguez (35 HR, 25 SB in 1999) as the only 20/20 catchers in MLB history.
Reserve: Adley Rutschman, Baltimore Orioles
2nd-Half Stats: .284/.414/.470, 6 HR, 36 R, 20 RBI, 2 SB
If Realmuto ever gives an inch, Rutschman is right there behind his fellow backstop in that "most valuable player not named Judge" conversation. Rutschman isn't quite Juan Soto when it comes to drawing walks, but that .414 OBP since the All-Star break is indicative of his patient approach at the plate. He's also a surprisingly good baserunner for a catcher, even though he doesn't swipe nearly as many bags as Realmuto.
Also Considered: Travis d'Arnaud, Sean Murphy, Salvador Perez
Starter: Nathaniel Lowe, Texas Rangers
2nd-Half Stats: .358/.413/.602, 13 HR, 26 R, 33 RBI
Choosing a first baseman for this exercise was the toughest decision, by far, and certainly not due to a lack of quality candidates.
But while the Texas Rangers have collapsed to the tune of a 22-35 record since the All-Star break, Lowe takes the cake with an astounding .358 batting average over his last 57 games. He was actually sitting at .371 prior to back-to-back hitless performances over the past few days. However, even after those two duds, he still has four more hits since the break (79) than the next player on that list (Freddie Freeman, 75).
Lowe was particularly hot in the 21-game stretch from August 20 through the first half of a September 12 doubleheader, batting .417 with 14 multi-hit performances and seven home runs.
Not too shabby for a guy who was batting .238 with one home run through his first 131 plate appearances of the season.