Pair of Blue Jays make All-Star Game in The Athletic's latest predictions

Jun 4, 2023; New York City, New York, USA; Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette (11) fields a
Jun 4, 2023; New York City, New York, USA; Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette (11) fields a / John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

With the MLB All-Star Game just over a month away, focus on first-half performances is starting to heat up as fans and analysts debate who should or shouldn't be named All-Stars this year.

Jim Bowden of The Athletic recently revealed his early choices (subscription required) of who he thinks should make the trip to Seattle for the July 11 "Midsummer Classic." Two Toronto Blue Jays stand out from the crowd among the names he believes should represent the American League.

In a completely unsurprising selection, Bowden names Bo Bichette as the starting shortstop for the AL squad, pointing to some of the offensive categories in which Bichette leads all AL shortstops. He cites batting average (.326), home runs (14) and RBI (42). He doesn't even mention hits (89), slugging percentage (.527), OPS (.886), wOBA (.381) or wRC+ (147).

As you can see, there are plenty of reasons to hand Bichette the honor of starting in Seattle over the only other real contender, Wander Franco of the Tampa Bay Rays. Bowden also points out, rather astutely, that the 25-year-old is "also among the league leaders in overall swag and hair flow."

The second Blue Jays addition to the AL team is starting pitcher Kevin Gausman, another deserving and obvious choice. The 32-year-old has easily been the Blue Jays' ace this season and has quietly inserted himself into the AL Cy Young race.

Bowden doesn't think Gausman will be the AL starter over the Rays' Shane McClanahan, but you can make a strong case for the Toronto pitcher.

While Gausman's 2.63 ERA is impressive, it's tough to touch McClanahan's 2.03 mark. However, the Toronto starter does lead the AL (and all of baseball) with 113 strikeouts, 17 more than second-place Shohei Ohtani.

"The veteran righty is in the 94th percentile in chase rate and the 92nd percentile in K%," Bowden points out in reference to his strikeout prowess.

He actually leads all AL starters with a 12.40 K/9, 34.3% strikeout rate and 28.9% strikeout minus walk rate. Impressive stuff.

Gausman continued his march towards securing a spot in Seattle in his most recent outing. On Tuesday night, he carved up the Astros in a dominant seven-inning, 13-strikeout effort. He now boasts a 2.30 FIP, 2.73 SIERA and 3.0 fWAR, all AL-bests.

Bowden and The Athletic nailed it by picking Bichette and Gausman to represent the Blue Jays at the All-Star Game. Hopefully, one or two more of their teammates will join them in Seattle this summer.