Who becomes the Reds lone All-Star representative with Tyler Stephenson on the IL?

Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto.
Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto. / Dylan Buell/GettyImages

Every team must be represented in the MLB All-Star Game. Whether you like the rule or not, that's the way it works. So, who will be the Cincinnati Reds' representative for the Midsummer Classic?

Had he remained healthy, in all likelihood, Tyler Stephenson would have been the Reds' lone All-Star this season. Last year, Cincinnati sent both Jesse Winker and Nick Castellanos to the festivities in Colorado.

Stephenson leads all Reds' position players in bWAR (1.2), batting average (.305), and on-base percentage (.361). Stephenson is second on the team in RBIs (31), slugging percentage (.468), and OPS (.829). All of this while squatting behind the plate for 42 games this season.

But Tyler Stephenson suffered a broken thumb this past week and will be on the shelf for at least four weeks, and possibly even more. With the catcher out action, someone else on Cincinnati's roster will be representing the team at the All-Star Game. Who will it be?

Who will be the Reds All-Star representative with Tyler Stephenson on the IL?

One player who was tracking toward going to the Midsummer Classic but has been sidelined with an injury as well is starting pitcher Connor Overton. The right-hander suffered back injury and is currently on the 60-day IL. Prior to the injury, however, Overton owned a 1.82 ERA in four starts.

The Reds have several legitimate All-Star candidates, but none of them are slam dunks. Kyle Farmer is having a fine season and leads Cincinnati in RBIs, but the competition for the shortstop position in the NL is fierce. Players like Dansby Swanson, Trea Turner, Francisco Lindor, and Willy Adames will get the nod over Farmer.

Brandon Drury has an outside chance to make the All-Star team. The 29-year-old leads the Reds in home runs, but it's going to be hard for Drury to overcome other third basemen on this year's ballot. Nolan Arenado, Ke'Bryan Hayes, Austin Riley, and Manny Machado all stand in his way.

You could make the case for Luis Castillo. The Cincinnati Reds starter has looked very good since returning from the IL after missing the first month-plus of the season. But that time on the IL will certainly impact Castillo's stats. La Piedra has only 37 punch outs on the season, while league-leaders Corbin Burnes, Aaron Nola, and Sandy Alcantara are approaching 100.

None of the Cincinnati Reds young relievers possess the type of stats that are typically associated with All-Star relief pitchers. While Joel Kuhnel and Alexis Díaz have been effective out of the Reds bullpen, there's just one save between the two of them.

Joey Votto or Graham Ashcraft will represent the Reds in the All-Star Game.

When it comes right down to it there are really only two players who should represent the Cincinnati Reds in the 2022 MLB All-Star Game; starting pitcher Graham Ashcraft or first baseman Joey Votto.

If the All-Star were based solely on player performance, Ashcraft would be the Reds' representative in Los Angeles. But, as we all know, oftentimes selection for the Midsummer Classic is based on popularity. That's where Joey Votto comes in.

Let's look at Graham Ashcraft first, shall we. Ashcraft, having started just four games, currently leads the Cincinnati Reds in bWAR (1.8). The right-hander is 3-0 in four starts and his 1.14 ERA is the lowest among any starter on the team.

Among all NL rookies, Ashcraft has the lowest ERA for any starter with at least 20 inning pitched. While Hunter Greene may lead the way in strikeouts (72), he's also second in walks (24) and first in home runs allowed (15) by rookie pitchers. Ashcraft has allowed just one round tripper and has walked just five batters. Granted, he's started just four games.

And that's where Joey Votto comes in. The Cincinnati Reds first baseman, especially with absence of Jonathan India, is the team's most popular player. Votto joined social media this last spring. At last check, Votto has over 117,000 followers on Instagram.

Every year, there are a handful of players who's performance don't match their popularity. Last year, despite playing in only 36 games, Mike Trout was named to the American League All-Star roster. It happens.

There are easily five first basemen in the National League who've had a better season than Joey Votto. Pete Alonso, C.J. Cron, Paul Goldschmidt, Matt Olson, and Garrett Cooper all deserve to be on the NL All-Star team over Votto. But that's not always the way it works.

Joey Votto is hitting just .213/.351/.404 with five home runs and 22 RBIs. But, since the former NL MVP returned from the IL on May 20th, Votto is slashing .313/.432/.702 with 15 extra base hits. If he keeps hitting like that, I like Votto's chances of making it to a seventh All-Star Game.

Next. 3 Reds who should receive All-Star consideration, but won't. dark