The age of the Cleveland Indians being an afterthought is over.
The 2013 team sneaking into the Wild Card wasn’t enough to keep them on the main stage, and neither was getting into the playoffs last season. But making it all the way to the World Series, playing one of the most exciting World Series ever, and having young talent like Francisco Lindor while adding a big veteran bat like Edwin Encarnacion has everyone picking the Tribe to win it all this season.
With All-Star voting opening yesterday, that brings about a question: Will all this notoriety turn into All-Star selections? There are, at the very least, a few very deserving players and a couple that should either be in, or force a rethinking of the entire voting process if they are not.
So let’s break it into categories.
Complete locks — if they don’t get in, notify Amnesty International immediately.
On his current trajectory, Francisco Lindor would finish as the American League’s best shortstop in terms of WAR (1.5), wRC+ (170), slugging percentage (.622), and smiles (a lot). At this point, there’s no excuse for him not getting in and starting besides another team having a bigger fanbase that forces their player in. Yes, shortstop is an absolutely stacked position around the game right now, but Lindor has the name recognition, and so far this season he’s displayed the kind of flashy, powerful game that grabs the attention of voters. Get. Him. In.
Sorry Andrew Miller, but Cody Allen is currently the best reliever on the Indians, and one of the best in the entire league. Yes, Miller has yet to allow a run this season, but Allen has been absolutely deadly all season long — even if he did allow one run in his second appearance. Coming in as the Tribe closer, he’s struck out the side three times this season, with two strikeouts in five of his other outings. He also had the audacity to walk a single Minnesota Twins batter a couple weeks ago, but it’s the only free base he’s given up all season.
Should really get in. Not a war crime if they don’t, but you should all be ashamed of yourselves if they aren’t there.
He probably wouldn’t start because Manny Machado still takes breath on an American League team, but it’s time The Hamster got his due. Indians fans absolutely love him, and mainstream voters love them some clutch hitting and ca-ray-zay hair.
Now is Miller’s time to shine. What baseball fan on earth hasn’t heard of Andrew Miller after his playoff heroics? Granted, he deserves to lose a few votes for shaving off that beautiful head of hair and trimming his mountain-main beard, but not enough to miss out on the All-Star game. The fact that he’s only been one to All-Star game in career is a travesty in itself.
If only Carlos Carrasco had pitched in the playoffs last season. For the painfully obvious reasons, of course, but it also would have given him a showcase on the national stage. Instead, he’s quietly been one of the most consistent pitchers so far this season.
Fans have heard about a lot about Michael Brantley, mostly about his shoulder injury last season. And now that he’s playing well, he gets the benefit of a nice redemption story.
Wouldn’t it be nice if these guys got it? It might take some improvements, but they’re on their way.
Hear me out. Edwin has always been a slow starter, you’ve been told this several times. It’s not anything new. He normally heats up in June, which seems like it’d be more of a one-off coincidence than anything, but it shows up so frequently in his 12-year career that I haven’t even unpacked the standard issue panic button delivered to me by a man in black the other week. He’ll be fine, and it’s going to be thunderous when he returns.
Corey Kluber is a slow-starter as well, and he can easily turn it around enough to get named to his second All-Star game.
Since returning from a preseason injury, Lonnie Chisenhall has looked great, and even playing some center field less than terribly. He probably won’t have the outstanding numbers to make it, but one or two streaks of greatness might be enough to sneak him in as a backup.
Probably won’t make it, but I’ll put them on every ballot anyway because you can’t tell me what to do.
Listen, if the American League wants a pitcher to pitch literally anything but the first inning, Danny Salazar should be their guy. He’s been incredible after the first frame this season — just don’t let him anywhere near the first inning.
Gonna be honest, I thought Carlos Santana would come out of the gates swinging a little bit more as he’s gunning for a big contract in the offseason. Instead, he’s off to kind of a slow start and not walking as much as he normally does. He’s only striking out 11.5 percent of the time, however, which is a sizable improvement over his career.
Might end up making a case but there’s no way it’ll happen.
Abraham Almonte, or Patient Abe as he has become in 2017, could make a fringe case for an All-Star vote or two if he keeps up his current pace. But it’s not happening. He was suspended for PEDs just a year ago and he’s not going to be good enough for people to forget his transgressions.
The Indians have not been represented well in recent All-Star games. Last year’s selection of Francisco Lindor, Danny Salazar, and Corey Kluber repesented the most Indians in the midsummer classic since 2007 when CC Sabathia, Victor Martinez, and Grady Sizemore played in San Francisco. In the six years between these trios of young stars being recognized as the league’s best, the Indians only sent one player four times. Victor Martinez went in 2009, Roberto Hernandez (then Fausto Carmona) in 2010, Michael Brantley in 2014, and Jason Kipnis in 2015.
It wasn’t always like that, though. In the ‘90s, the Indians were a powerhouse, and their All-Star selections reflected that. Three times throughout the decade, the Tribe sent six representatives:
- 1995: Carlos Baerga, Albert Belle, Kenny Lofton, Dennis Martinez, Jose Mesa, Manny Ramirez
- 1998: Sandy Alomar Jr., Bartolo Colon, Kenny Lofton, Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, Omar Vizquel
- 1999: Roberto Alomar, Kenny Lofton, Charles Nagy, Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome, Omar Vizquel.
But the record for most All-Star selections belongs to the 1952 Indians when Bobby Avila, Larry Doby, Mike Garcia, Jim Hegan, Bob Lemon, Dale Mitchell, and Al Rosen played in a rain-shortened game that ended with the American League falling to the National League, 2-3, after five innings.
Can the Indians defy all odds and send seven players to the All-Star game again? Probably not, but that shouldn’t stop us from trying.