At one point it was Los Angeles’ Mike Trout and eight Kansas City Royals that were going to start for the American League in the July 13 All-Star Game in Cincinnati.
Royals fans took to heart the pleas to vote their favorites in, while the rest of the teams’ fans apparently were nonplussed until they realized what was happening.
But when the final tabulations were announced Sunday, Major League Baseball officials probably were breathing somewhat of a sigh of relief when just four Royals were anointed to the starting nine (counting the DH).
In my eyes, three of them were deserving — catcher Salvador Perez, shortstop Alcides Escobar and outfielder Lorenzo Cain. I’m still lukewarm about Alex Gordon, though he certainly looked like one of the three best outfielders in the league on Sunday with a homer and two highlight-reel catches. Overall, though, it’s been somewhat of down year for him (.262 average, 10 homers and 63 strikeouts).
Perez is hitting .263 with 13 homers, while he has no peers defensively. Just think what he would hit if he had any semblance of knowledge of the strike zone instead of going up there hacking away.
Escobar has hit .276 and also is among the best fielders at his position. Cain is about the only Royal hitting during their recent offensive funk and is at .305 with 36 RBIs and 16 out of 19 in stolen bases. And he’ll probably be the recipient of the Platinum Glove this year, succeeding last year’s winner Gordon.
There could still be another Royal starter. First baseman Eric Hosmer (.287, 41 RBIs) is a top candidate to replace the injured Miguel Cabrera of Detroit, the best hitter on the planet. My guess is, though, Kansas City manager Ned Yost will go with Texas’ Prince Fielder, though he has been more of a DH. Might be Ned’s way of keep the burning embers from turning into a raging inferno.
I’m glad that fans came around and picked Houston’s Jose Altuve at second base and Toronto’s Josh Donaldson at third. Kansas City’s Omar Infante is having perhaps the worst year of his career at second and didn’t in any way deserve to be picked. Cleveland’s Jason Kipnis probably was a better choice, but Altuve isn’t chopped liver and won the AL batting title last year.
Donaldson may be the best player in the American League this year and while Moustakas has experienced a renaissance, he has done next-to-nothing over the last month as his average has dropped nearly 30 points and he’s fallen into old habits the last couple of weeks of trying to pull everything.
Seattle’s Nelson Cruz was a good choice at DH, but KC’s Kendrys Morales certainly couldn’t have been chastised if voted in. He has 52 RBIs and 21 doubles, both high up on the AL charts. He’s been an upgrade over the popular Billy Butler, whose numbers in Oakland just enhance the belief his better days may be behind him.
I still think Yost adds either Hosmer or Moustakas, as well as Wade Davis. The Royals have the AL’s best record and certainly deserve to be awarded.