Kansas City didn't get the all-Royal American League lineup it wanted, but the team nonetheless will have an MLB-high four starters at the 2015 All-Star Game in Cincinnati. MLB Communications provided a list of the AL and NL starters:
Catcher Salvador Perez, shortstop Alcides Escobar and outfielders Lorenzo Cain and Alex Gordon officially got the nod Sunday night during a selection special that aired on MLB Network. The Royals quartet will be joined by Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera, Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout, Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson, Seattle Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz and Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve.
Donaldson finished with the most votes among AL players with 14,090,188. Donaldson, who is hitting .296/.352/.527, with 19 home runs and 56 RBI, will be making his second All-Star appearance. Other than Cabrera, who was selected for his 10th Midsummer Classic, no other AL starter has more than four All-Star appearances.
The same largely goes for the National League side, which has St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday making his seventh appearance and a treasure trove of young stars continuing to build their career resumes. Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper sits atop NL vote-getters with 13,864,950 votes, setting an all-time National League record.
Harper, who is emerging as arguably the NL MVP favorite, has already hit 25 home runs and driven in 60 runs to go along with his .344 batting average. Touted among the most talented players in the sport, the 22-year-old Las Vegas native has finally come into his own and backed up his talent with production.
Joining Harper and Holliday in the outfield is MVP candidate Giancarlo Stanton, who eclipsed San Francisco's Nori Aoki for the final starting gig. (Aoki played for the Royals last season, likely giving him an artificial boost.)
Giants catcher Buster Posey, Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon, Cardinals shortstop Jhonny Peralta and Cincinnati Reds third baseman Todd Frazier round out the infield. The Cardinals and Marlins are the only two NL teams with multiple All-Stars.
Five NL players (Gordon, Peralta, Frazier, Stanton and Holliday) will be making their first All-Star start, equal to the number of AL electees (Perez, Altuve, Escobar, Cain and Gordon).
Escobar and Cain are the only first-time selections overall. After years of inertia, this could be seen as an event where the game's younger generation carries the torch and puts its skills on display on the biggest stage.
For most, though, the focus remains on Kansas City's ballot-stuffing and the controversy it's generated. While some merely view it as a one-year fluke not representative of a deeper problem, others have used it as a platform to decry fan voting.
“I understand loyalty from Royals fans and wanting to have their players there,” Jose Bautista told Yahoo Sports Radio in June, via Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star. “But as a baseball fan, not just a Royals fan, you have to want the best players starting the All-Star Game. I don’t know what’s going on, if there’s a 14-year-old computer whiz creating all these fake accounts, who knows?”
There is also the issue of the game's competitiveness itself. Even if fans and most players treat the game like an exhibition, MLB is the only sport where the All-Star Game outcome has real repercussions. An American League team with a better record than its NL counterpart may wind up playing four games on the road in the World Series because of the Royal-heavy starting nine.
However, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports believed four Royals were the right call:
Kansas City has the highest winning percentage in the American League at the moment, but the voting appears to have put the AL at a disadvantage. Even if a late surge and voting correction helped avoid any egregious selections—Altuve thankfully moved ahead of Omar Infante on the final returns—the controversy probably isn't going to die down in the week-plus leading up to the game.
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