The Cleveland Indians did something yesterday that hadn’t happened since the ‘90s squads were crushing baseballs at historic rates: They had five players named to the All-Star game in consecutive seasons.
Jose Ramirez, Francisco Lindor, Michael Brantley, and Corey Kluber will all be making back-to-back trips to the All-Star game, the first time four Tribe teammates have done that since Sandy Alomar Jr., Kenny Lofton, Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, and Omar Vizquel all went in 1998 and 1999. In addition to all the familiar faces, Trevor Bauer will make his All-Star debut, filling out the Tribe’s All-Star selection at a league-leading five players.
That’s incredible, and it’s incredible that they’re doing it two seasons in a row (Andrew Miller made it last year as the fifth member), even if there is only one starter in the bunch.
Here are some more fun Indians fun facts for you:
- Lindor is the first shortstop named to three consecutive All-Star games since Lou Boudreau (1940-1943).
- Jose Ramirez is the first third basemen named to back-to-back All-Star games since Al Rosen (1953-1955).
- Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer are the first pair of starting pitchers named to the All-Star since C.C. Sabathia and Jake Westbrook (2004).
- Michael Brantley is the only outfielder the Indians have sent to the All-Star game since Grady Sizemore (2006-2008). This is his third trip. He’s also the first “Mike/Michael” since 1954, which feels important.
- The Indians have sent at least three players to the All-Star game three seasons in a row for the first time since 1998-2000.
- Francisco Lindor has the best smile in the All-Star game ever.
Only Jose Ramirez is a starter this time around; he’ll be manning the hot corner in a Jose-heavy infield consisting of Jose Abreu and Jose Altuve. Ramirez won the fan vote with 2,521,120 votes, and I’m a little shocked he only had a little over 2.5 million votes (one of the lowest totals of any winner in the American League), seeing as his only real competition was Alex Bregman, and Ramirez bested him across the board. He had more runs (24 to 17), a higher walk rate (13.8 percent to 12.9 percent), a lower strikeout rate (11.3 percent to 13.1 percent), a better slash line (.292/.395/.590 to .281/.384/.519), and of course a higher wRC+ (163 to 153).
That’s whatever, though — he won. That’s the important part. Maybe he just had such a massive lead in the minds of everyone that they didn’t bother voting. That’s never backfired in the past.
Francisco Lindor not starting over Manny Machado feels like an atrocity, but I guess it does make a little bit of sense — both players’ offensive numbers are very similar, but Machado walks more and strikes out less, while Lindor has displayed more power to this point with 23 home runs. The only runaway advantage Lindor really has is defense, the numbers of which are essentially useless in a half-season worth of data. But the eye test, which most fans probably use anyway, is a clear advantage to Lindor, who is probably going to win another Gold Glove this season.
Machado’s win just comes down to name recognition, plain and simple. Which is a shame, because more people need to know of one of baseball’s best personalities and biggest bats at a premiere position. Machado constantly has the recognition of being in the second-tier of greatness (because the top-tier is Mike Trout and only Mike Trout), despite the fact that Lindor is right there with him, if not ahead of him already.
In a star-studded outfield, there wasn’t much hope of Michael Brantley starter, despite being such a solid hitter over the course of the season. Mookie Betts, Aaron Judge, and Mike Trout are all powerhouses with tremendous name — and fan — recognition. Betts and Trout are in a constant battle to lead the league in wRC+ — right now Betts leads with a 195 wRC+, but Trout isn’t far behind at 193 with a much higher on-base percentage. You could make the argument that J.D. Martinez deserves the top spot more than Judge — he has more home runs with an equally gigantic fan base — but, come on. There’s no way Judge wasn’t making it as long as he had at least an average offensive first half. Martinez made it as a designated hitter, anyway.
That left Michael Brantley to nab one of the Player Vote spots for a bench role, where he’ll sit alongside Lindor until his number is called in the latter innings. He, along with George Springer and Mitch Haniger, will back up the Betts-Trout-Judge trio.
That leaves us with Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer. One making his third trip to the All-Star game, and the other making his midsummer classic debut. Kluber’s inclusion is a no-brainer: Results are good enough, name recognition is huge — of course he made it, even if some of his peripherals are concerning early on. Justin Verlander was received the most fan votes, but won’t be starting as he’s scheduled on Sunday. Instead, he had to be replaced — by Trevor Bauer.
The fact that Bauer didn’t make it in clean is baffling to anyone who follows him closely, but makes perfect sense from an outsider’s perspective. On top of the general things that make him unlikable to most (which I won’t go into here), he doesn’t have a great record (which still matters to some people for some unknown reason), and his earned run average is only fifth in the American League. What a slacker.
The American League is absolutely stacked with great starting pitchers, though, so the fact that he got in at all — and the fact that the Indians got in two starting pitchers — is great. Mike Clevinger and his 3.11 ERA and 3.19 FIP probably weren’t too terribly off the radar, either.
What about the snubs? I want to be ANGRY
Outside of Lindor not starting, it’s difficult to find any real snubs if you’re in Indians fan. Yan Gomes certainly wasn’t the best catcher, Yonder Alonso was too streaky as a first baseman, Jason Kipnis — well — you know, everyone not named Michael Brantley in the outfield is a mess, and the relievers — well — you know. I say be happy with what you get to watch in a couple weeks, and hope it leads to something great in October.