Yelich, Bellinger lead NL All-Star starters
NEW YORK (AP) — Cody Bellinger and Christian Yelich have been elected starters for one of the youngest All-Star Game lineups ever, leading the millennial-heavy National League for the Midsummer Classic in Cleveland.
Major League Baseball revealed the results from fan balloting for its All-Star starters Thursday. The All-Star Game is July 9.
The Dodgers’ Bellinger, Brewers’ Yelich and Braves’ Ronald Acuna Jr. are set to play outfield for the NL, leading a lineup averaging just 25.8 years old. Depending on who is chosen as the club’s designated hitter, the starting position players could be younger than the 1967 NL and 2017 AL clubs, which averaged 26.0 years old.
“I’ve never seen this much young talent in the game,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, who will lead the NL. “There’s a lot of fun players to watch — talented and the personalities from some of these young players.”
Angels star Mike Trout was the leading vote getter in the final round. He’ll be joined on the AL squad by three Astros — Alex Bregman, George Springer and Michael Brantley — and two Yankees — Gary Sanchez and DJ LeMahieu.
The lineups are full of unlikely names. LeMahieu didn’t crack New York’s opening day lineup. Rangers designated hitter Hunter Pence could only find a minor league contract as a free agent last offseason. Diamondbacks second baseman Ketel Marte and Twins shortstop Jorge Polanco hardly garnered All-Star attention in previous years. Now they’re All-Star starters.
“It was quite a wild journey from this year to last year,” Pence said. “And to even be speaking about this now, is a miracle. It’s a blessing, and I’m very grateful.”
The elder statesmen in the NL lineup will be 29-year-old Freddie Freeman from Atlanta and 28-year-old Nolan Arenado of Colorado.
“It shows how good these young guys are,” said Arenado, making his fifth All-Star appearance. “Some of these young players are unbelievable players. We’re fortunate to be in this time, when you get to see how good they are.”
Indians first baseman Carlos Santana was elected to start in his home park in the 33-year-old’s first All-Star selection. He’ll be joined in the lineup by Brantley, a former teammate who left the Indians in free agency last offseason for a $32 million, two-year deal with Houston. Brantley edged Yankees slugger Aaron Judge by 0.9% for the final outfield spot.
The Cubs’ Willson Contreras and Javier Baez will each start for the NL for the second straight year. Baez was elected at shortstop a year after starting at second. Only three other All-Stars have started in consecutive years at different positions.
Trout is set to be the sixth AL player to start six times before turning 28. The others are Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Ivan Rodriguez, Rod Carew and Ken Griffey Jr. It’s Trout’s eighth straight selection overall.
“I just enjoy going to them,” he said. “Every year it seems like I am slowing it down and embracing the experience. The first couple I was running around and it went so fast.”
Yelich was second in voting behind Trout. He homered in last year’s All-Star Game, then staged a second-half tear that ended in him winning NL MVP. He’s been just as good in 2019, leading the majors with 29 homers while hitting .332 with a 1.149 OPS.
“In spring, there were a lot of questions if I could do it again,” Yelich said. “Was it a fluke? Am I a good player? That stuff kind of lights a fire in me.
“I didn’t know how the year was going to go, but I wasn’t going to look back on last year and think anything was guaranteed. Just because you’re an MVP the previous year, you’re not going to just walk through the next year and everything was going to be fine.”
The league adopted a new balloting structure this season, which operated exclusively through Google. Fans voted up until June 21 to determine finalists for All-Star starters. The top-three vote getters at each position — top nine in the outfield — in each league then entered a second phase of voting, which ran Wednesday and Thursday. Vote totals were reset prior to the final round.
Fans elected the nine starting players for the AL team and eight for the NL — with the extra AL player being the designated hitter. The rest of the 32-man rosters for each league, including the DH for the National League, will be determined by player balloting and selections from the Commissioner’s Office. Those All-Stars will be announced Sunday.
The first All-Star Game was in 1933 in Chicago. All-Star starters have been elected by fans since 1970. Balloting was moved exclusively online in 2015.
2019 All-Star Starters
Tuesday, July 9
At Progressive Field, Cleveland Ohio
Catcher — Gary Sanchez, New York Yankees
First Baseman — Carlos Santana, Cleveland Indians
Second Baseman — DJ LeMahieu, New York Yankees
Shortstop — Jorge Polanco, Minnesota Twins
Third Baseman — Alex Bregman, Houston Astros
Designated Hitter — Hunter Pence, Texas Rangers
Outfield — Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
Outfield — George Springer, Houston Astros
Outfield — Michael Brantley, Houston Astros
Catcher — Willson Contreras, Chicago Cubs
First Baseman — Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves
Second Baseman — Ketel Marte, Arizona Diamondbacks
Shortstop — Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs
Third Baseman — Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies
Outfield — Christian Yelich, Milwaukee Brewers
Outfield — Cody Bellinger, Los Angeles Dodgers
Outfield — Ronald Acuna Jr., Atlanta Braves
First Baseman — Carlos Santana 49.2%, Luke Voit 25.8%, C.J. Cron 25.0%
Second Baseman — DJ LeMahieu 38.0%, Jose Altuve 31.5%, Tommy La Stella 30.5%
Shortstop — Jorge Polanco 42.0%, Gleyber Torres 31.2%, Carlos Correa 26.8%
Third Baseman — Alex Bregman 49.1%, Hunter Dozier 27.6%, Gio Urshela 23.3%
Designated Hitter — Hunter Pence 46.7%, J.D. Martinez 31.2%, Nelson Cruz 22.0%
Outfield — Mike Trout 25.5%, George Springer 15.7%, Michael Brantley 10.8%, Aaron Judge 9.9%, Mookie Betts 9.1%, Eddie Rosario 8.9%, Joey Gallo 7.8%, Austin Meadows 6.5%, Josh Reddick 5.9%
First Baseman — Freddie Freeman 38.5%, Josh Bell 37.4%, Anthony Rizzo 24.2%
Second Baseman — Ketel Marte 39.2%, Ozzie Albies 34.3%, Mike Moustakas 26.5%
Shortstop — Javier Baez 43.3%, Trevor Story 29.3%, Dansby Swanson 27.4%
Third Baseman — Nolan Arenado 51.9%, Josh Donaldson 25.1%, Kris Bryant 23.0%
Catcher — Willson Contreras 44.6%, Brian McCann 33.0%, Yasmani Grandal 22.4%
Outfield — Christian Yelich 22.3%, Cody Bellinger 21.0%, Ronald Acuna Jr. 15.0%, Charlie Blackmon 12.6%, Nick Markakis 8.2%, Jason Heyward 6.5%, Kyle Schwarber 5.3%, Albert Almora Jr. 5.0%, Joc Pederson 4.0%
Note: Pitchers and reserves will be announced Sunday, June 30.