Astros top MLB midsummer showcase
Houston sending 6 All-Stars including Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole
Last time the Houston Astros went to Cleveland, they made a boozy, bubbly mess in the visiting locker room.
Now they're invading the home clubhouse, too.
Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and four of their Astros teammates will lead the American League squad at the All-Star Game in Cleveland on July 9. Major League Baseball unveiled full rosters for the midsummer showcase Sunday, and Houston topped all big league clubs with six players. No other AL team has more than three.
"Impressive," Verlander said. "I mean, I think we could have a lot more."
Alex Bregman, George Springer and Michael Brantley will be in the starting lineup, and Verlander, Cole and Ryan Pressly are on the pitching staff. It will be the first trip to Cleveland for those Astros since Game 3 of last year's AL Division Series, when Houston won 11-3 to complete a sweep.
AL All-Star roster looking 🔥. <a href="https://t.co/D2zgeknezh">pic.twitter.com/D2zgeknezh</a>—@MLB
The Dodgers, Brewers and Rockies lead the NL with four players each. The Los Angeles contingent includes Cody Bellinger, Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Walker Buehler — plenty of familiar faces for manager Dave Roberts.
Milwaukee will be represented by Christian Yelich, Mike Moustakas, Yasmani Grandal and Josh Hader. It's the second appearance for Hader, who came under fire when racist and homophobic tweets resurfaced on his account during last year's game. Hader apologized for the tweets, which he sent as a teenager.
Braves teammates Ronald Acuna Jr. and Mike Soroka are set to be this year's youngest players at 21. Atlanta said it's the first time two players under 22 from the same team made the All-Star team.
The NL team includes just three hitters in their 30s: Moustakas and Grandal are 30, and Charlie Blackmon will turn 33 on Monday. Depending on who serves as DH, the NL could have the youngest starting lineup in All-Star Game history.
"I think it's just the beginning here," said Braves manager Brian Snitker, himself a freshman All-Star on Roberts' staff. "As I've said, I think this is going to be a yearly occurrence because these kids are going to be around for a long time."
The NL All-Star roster is loaded. <a href="https://t.co/z6WNi7uF6x">pic.twitter.com/z6WNi7uF6x</a>—@MLB
The Yankees have the AL's best record but boast just three All-Stars: Gary Sanchez, DJ LeMahieu and Aroldis Chapman. Gleyber Torres and Luke Voit were also contenders, while Aaron Judge — injured for much of the season — narrowly missed out on a spot via fan balloting.
"To me, I thought we were going to have around six or seven All-Stars from this team," Chapman said through a translator in London.
Fans of the reigning champion Red Sox won't be pleased that shortstop Xander Bogaerts and third baseman Rafael Devers were left out. Bogaerts has accrued 3.7 wins above replacement, per Fangraphs — trailing only the Angels' Mike Trout among AL players — and Devers entered Sunday batting .324. Red Sox ace Chris Sale was also omitted despite ranking second in the league in strikeouts. Boston's only representatives as of now are Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez.
Padres sluggers Hunter Renfroe and Franmil Reyes entered Sunday among the major league leaders with 24 homers each, but neither made the cut. Nor did Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo, Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins, Twins outfielder Max Kepler or Yankees DH Edwin Encarnacion.
On the pitching side, Cubs left-hander Cole Hamels, Rangers right-hander Lance Lynn and Twins righty Jose Berrios also had strong credentials.
Verlander earned his eighth All-Star nod, tied with Kershaw and Trout for most among this year's participants.
The host Indians had three players selected: Carlos Santana, Francisco Lindor and Brad Hand. Santana, a 33-year-old first-time All-Star, will also swing in the Home Run Derby.
Six of the eight derby participants are known — Acuna, Santana, Toronto's Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Milwaukee's Christian Yelich, the New York Mets' Pete Alonso and Pittsburgh's Josh Bell. Guerrero will be 20 years, 114 days old for the July 8 showcase, making him the youngest ever in the derby — 116 days younger than Ken Griffey Jr. in 1990. The full field will be announced Wednesday. Rangers slugger Joey Gallo said Sunday he has not been asked to be in the derby, though he will be on the AL All-Star squad.
The rosters feature 31 first-time selections, including Anthony Rendon, who said he may not attend to rest some nagging injuries instead. Since the start of 2015, the Nationals third baseman is fifth in baseball in WAR at 20.4.
"It's good to be recognized," he said.
Rendon's former teammate, Phillies slugger Bryce Harper, hasn't been invited. Harper set pro sports jersey sale records after signing a $330 million, 13-year deal with Philadelphia this spring, but subpar slugging this season will likely end his streak of All-Star appearances at four.
Padres third baseman Manny Machado, another big off-season free agent acquisition, was also left off the NL team.
The starting position players were elected by fans and announced Thursday. The rest of the rosters were filled out by player balloting and the Commissioner's Office.