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Miami Marlins most deserving of an All-Star nod

The 2016 MLB All-Star Game is less than two weeks away, which Marlins deserve to represent the club in San Diego?

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

It's long been known that All-Star selections aren't based on who actually deserves to go. It's a world-wide popularity contest, with fan bases of the hot teams du jour generally stuffing the ballot box. That being said, at least one Marlins' player will be back competing in Petco Park in less than a two weeks with San Diego being the host for this year's All Star game.

Unlike the past few seasons the Marlins have a number of players whose case can be made for a spot on the National League roster. With the team on the plus-side of .500 while vying for a Wild Card spot in late June it makes those cases even stronger, which is going to be key. In the latest release of fan voting numbers for the NL starting lineup, there are only two Miami players to showing up on the ballot (more on that in a bit).

This means the Marlins will be relying heavily on the player and manager votes, which will account for a combined 25 open spots to be filled by starting and relief pitchers and position players. While they almost certainly won't all get selected the Marlins have six players who deserve consideration for a roster spot. So in order of least to most deserving, which player(s) should be representing the Marlins come July 12?

6. J.T. Realmuto

Realmuto has the fourth highest fWAR (1.5) amongst NL catchers this season. Fangraphs also rates J.T. very highly with their DEF metric, ranking him only slightly behind Buster Posey who sits in the top spot. Realmuto has put up a respectable if somewhat empty slash line of .303/.329/.417 to date.

In the end, he just doesn't have enough juice to pass the more established (and frankly, more productive) names like Posey, Wilson Ramos and Jonathan Lucroy. Nevertheless, you have to be encouraged if you're a Marlins fan by Realmuto's progress this season, both up at the plate and behind the dish.

5. Martin Prado

Prado was a house afire to start the season, hitting .397 in the first month of the season. He cooled off a bit in May, only hitting .270, but has rebounded with a slash line of .286/.343/.429. For the season he currently sits at .308/.354/.399.

There's no denying that Prado has been a solid presence in the Marlins' lineup in 2016 and deserves consideration for an All-Star nod, but, similar to Realmuto, his numbers aren't as strong as some of his other teammates nor other National League third baseman. His 1.2 WAR is fourth on the club and tied for eighth among NL third baseman. He has produced at an above average rate offensively with a 102 wRC+, but he's eighth among the position in the league.

With guys like Matt Carpenter, Nolan Arenado and Kris Bryant at the position, it's nearly impossible for Prado to get voted in as a starter despite showing up on the most recent ballot update. That in addition to other Marlins, specifically position players, having stronger All-Star cases than Prado, means he will likely not be heading to San Diego.

4. A.J. Ramos

If anything, Realmuto and Prado were more honorable mentions for All-Star spots; both have had nice seasons and deserve some recognition because of it, but it's hard to really make an argument for them as the top two or three players at their position in the National League. With that said, there are four Marlins whose argument can not only be made, but actually deserve an All-Star nod.

At the bottom of that list of four is the man who has anchored the back of the bullpen and, despite some nail-biting ninth innings, has not faltered once this season when the Marlins have been three outs away from a win. A.J. Ramos is second in the Majors with 24 saves, behind Jeurys Familia who was 26, and among NL closers with at least 15 saves he's fourth in ERA at 1.74.

Last year a total of five closers landed on the National League roster and that number should be around the same this year with a few closers putting together strong campaigns. But with Ramos in contention for the top closer spot in the NL, he should have his first All-Star appearance locked down.

3. Jose Fernandez

I'm not sure of a better way to start this than by simply saying Josè Fernàndez is very good at baseball and we should just dive right into the numbers.

Jose's 2.28 ERA is fifth in the NL and his best since his rookie season. His 1.98 FIP is third among NL starters, behind just Noah Syndergarrd and Clayton Kershaw, and a career-best mark. His 138 strikeouts are good for second in the NL, but his 37.6 K% is a Major-League best by nearly five percentage points over Kershaw, who sits second. Finally, his .99 WHIP is third in the National League.

To put the cherry on top of all those ridiculous stats above, Fernàndez has been injury-free in 2016 and has only had to skip one start due to his innings-limit schedule.

If Kershaw is held out of the event due to his recent lower back stiffness, then Terry Collins would probably be better off just pick a name out of a hat consisting of Fernàndez, Syndergarrd, Jake Arietta, Johnny Cueto, Madison Bumgarner, Stephen Strausburg and Jon Lester. Nevertheless, even if he doesn't get the starting nod expect Fernàndez to make his second trip to the Mid-Summer Classic.

P.S.: Dear Jeffrey Loria, pay this man lots of money.

2. Christian Yelich

Following a rocky start to the 2015 season Christian Yelich went on an absolute tear at the plate in the final three-plus months of baseball. That hot hitting has not only carried over in Yelich's fourth season in the big leagues, but has been elevated into the upper echelon class of major-league hitters.

Yeli ranks in the top-10 in the NL in both batting average (.313) and on-base percentage (.399). Among his teammates he is second in both WAR at 2.2 and in wRC+ at 138. Among National League outfielders those numbers are good for seventh and sixth respectively.

The outfield is always the most competitive spot when it comes to the All-Star game and last year the National League carried eight players. Assuming Dexter Fowler, Bryce Harper and Yeonis Cespedes take the three starting spots that leaves about five slots open for Yelich, Gregory Polanco, Carlos Gonzalez, Starling Marte, Ryan Braun, Obudel Herrera and the No. 1 Player on this ranking (see below).

Since Braun and Herrera are likely going to be named as the required one representative of their respective clubs it could make it tough for Yelich to crack a spot. But the combination of his resume and the Marlins position in the standings is going to make it hard to turn him away. To this point in the season Yelich has been the most consistent player in the Miami lineup and the fact that he's been consistent at an above average rate is why it was tough to not have him as the most deserving of a spot and would be even tougher to not see him receive a reserve bid.

1. Marcell Ozuna

If you had asked me a month ago who was most deserving of an All-Star spot on the Marlins I would have said Christian Yelich. If you had asked me the same question two weeks ago I would have said Yelich and Marcell Ozuna are both equally deserving. But what Marcell Ozuna has been able to do, and sustain, as the calendar sets to turn to July has cemented him as the most deserving Marlins player of an All-Star nod.

It was nearly a year to the date that Ozuna was sent down to Triple-A after enduring a month stretch where he hit just .167 on the heels of a promising debut season. He was then called up in mid-August and subsequently shopped by the front office over the offseason. It's been a hectic 12 months for Ozuna and where he will end up is the polar opposite of where he began. Just over a year after getting optioned to the minor leagues Marcell Ozuna will be playing in the MLB All-Star Game.

It's hard to fathom some of Ozuna's numbers and how they stack up not only against other NL outfielders, but the entire MLB. Ozuna is eleventh in the MLB in both WAR at 3.4 and wRC+ at 151. Among National League outfielders he's first in both categories. To top it all off, he also boasts a slashing line of .321/.375/.570.

In a season where the Marlins have managed to remain competitive despite Giancarlo Stanton's struggles, Marcell Ozuna has been the club's MVP. If the All-Star starters were determined by merit instead of a popularity contest then Ozuna would be a lock in the outfield. But considering where he was this time last year, just making it to the All-Star game is probably good enough.