This season, the Philadelphia Phillies will be the club sending its starting outfielders to the Midsummer Classic with the group of Shane Victorino, Raul Ibanez, and Jayson Werth.
Ibanez was the top vote-getter among National League outfielders, while Victorino was voted in by the fans in the final vote, garnering about 15 million votes.
Jayson Werth was added earlier today to replace injured Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran.
Ibanez was a sure selection, while Victorino and Werth cause more controversy.
Victorino was voted to St. Louis over the Giants' third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who many thought deserved it more than the Flyin' Hawaiian. Yet, it became clear as the voting progressed that Victorino simply wanted it more.
His up-beat attitude and overall like-ability is the likely reason to why he was voted in.
Jayson Werth was selected by Charlie Manuel, who is managing the NL team in the game, to replace Beltran.
Although he may not be the "most deserving," Werth is third among NL outfielders with 20 home runs, fifth in RBI with 54, eighth in stolen bases with 12, second in runs with 59, seventh in SLG and OPS at .522 and .894, respectively, ninth in OBP at .373, and second in walks with 49.
Not to be forgotten, and rarely shown in statistics, is Werth's pure ability to run the bases.
If all of that isn't enough to get the man into the All-Star Game, what is?
You can argue that Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp deserved it, but Werth beats Kemp out in home runs, doubles, RBI, runs, OBP and OPS.
Add to that the fact that Werth will most likely not be in contention for the game for too many more seasons, while Kemp will almost certainly be a part of the Midsummer Classics for years to come.
We can continue to argue that neither Werth or Victorino deserved it, but both players have worked tirelessly to get to this point, and are backed by some of the best fans in baseball. They deserve it, no doubt about it.
Moving forward, let's go back to my opening paragraph when I stated that the Phillies are the first team since 1995 to send their starting outfielders to the All-Star game.
As I said, that 1995 team was the Cleveland Indians. Who was their hitting coach? More importantly, why should you care? Because it was Charlie Manuel, the Phillies' skipper.
Another record set by the Phillies this season is their group of Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Raul Ibanez, and Jayson Werth, who have all hit 20 home runs. This means the Phillies are just the second team of all-time to have four batters with 20 or more home runs by the All-Star break.
Could there be a fifth 20-home run hitter in the near future?
Well, if Jimmy Rollins is able to hit 13 home runs over the next two games, then yes. Other than that, no, there will not be another member to the Phillies group of sluggers.
In other news, the Phillies won their seventh game out of the eight played on the current home stand this evening with a 3-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Joe Blanton was once again solid, allowing four hits and one run over 7.1 innings. Brad Lidge entered the game in the ninth inning with one out, and notched the save after allowing a two-out home run to David Moss.
Their current lead in the National League East stands at 2.5 games.
The New York Mets kept up their losing ways with a 3-0 defeat to the hands of the Cincinnati Reds, moving them 6.5 games back of the Phillies.
Finally, Raul Ibanez was activated off the 15-day disabled list today. The Phillies waived catcher Chris Coste in order to fit Ibanez onto the roster. Coste was quickly picked up by the Houston Astros.
Ibanez did not play Friday, but is likely to start on Saturday.
If the Phillies can manage to keep up their hot play, especially with the return of Ibanez and the overall play of the All-Star outfield, they just may begin to run away with division later this month.
If that were to occur, would a trade for Roy Halladay be as realistic, or would a trade for a number three starter make more sense?
Right now, it's all up in the air. All we know is that the Phillies are still the defending champions and are finally showing again. Whether any trades are made will be seen in the coming weeks.
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