Miggy leads six Tigers heading to All-Star Game
Fielder, Verlander, Peralta, Hunter and Scherzer named; Benoit in Final Vote
CLEVELAND -- Miguel Cabrera finally received the fans' nod for the All-Star Game. After seven years of being selected as a reserve, they made up for lost time.
"I'd say it's about time," manager Jim Leyland said.
He didn't have any Tigers teammates voted into the lineup with him, but he won't have any trouble finding them around. After years of Yankees and Red Sox filling out the American League All-Star roster, the Old English D will be prevalent in the Big Apple when the All-Star Game comes to Citi Field in just over a week.
Not since 1985, the year after the Tigers' last World Series championship, had Detroit put six players in the All-Star Game. They matched that total on Saturday, and if reliever Joaquin Benoit can draw enough votes in the 2013 All-Star Game Final Vote sponsored by freecreditscore.com, they'll have the most All-Stars in their history.
Only one of them was a managerial pick from Leyland. While Cabrera followed up his Triple Crown season with over eight million votes -- more than every All-Star but Chris Davis of the Orioles -- to be voted into the starting lineup, his fellow players voted four of his teammates onto the roster.
First baseman Prince Fielder, outfielder Torii Hunter and shortstop Jhonny Peralta made the team as reserves, while Max Scherzer was one of five starters selected by his peers. Justin Verlander was added by Leyland, who will manage the AL squad.
No other Major League team has as many All-Stars this year.
American League roster
|C||Joe Mauer, MIN|
|1B||Chris Davis, BAL|
|2B||Robinson Cano, NYY|
|3B||Miguel Cabrera, DET|
|SS||J.J. Hardy, BAL|
|OF||Mike Trout, LAA|
|OF||Adam Jones, BAL|
|OF||Jose Bautista, TOR|
|DH||David Ortiz, BOS|
|RHP||Clay Buchholz*, BOS|
|LHP||Brett Cecil, TOR|
|RHP||Bartolo Colon@, OAK|
|RHP||Jesse Crain*, CWS|
|RHP||Yu Darvish, TEX|
|RHP||Felix Hernandez, SEA|
|RHP||Hisashi Iwakuma, SEA|
|RHP||Justin Masterson, CLE|
|RHP||Joe Nathan, TEX|
|LHP||Glen Perkins@, MIN|
|RHP||Mariano Rivera, NYY|
|LHP||Chris Sale, CWS|
|RHP||Max Scherzer, DET|
|RHP||Justin Verlander, DET|
|C||Jason Castro, HOU|
|C||Salvador Perez, KC|
|1B||Prince Fielder, DET|
|2B||Jason Kipnis, CLE|
|2B||Dustin Pedroia, BOS|
|2B||Ben Zobrist, TB|
|SS||Jhonny Peralta, DET|
|3B||Manny Machado, BAL|
|OF||Nelson Cruz, TEX|
|OF||Alex Gordon, KC|
|OF||Torii Hunter, DET|
|DH||Edwin Encarnacion, TOR|
"That just says how much talent we have here," Scherzer said. "We've got a great team. That's kudos to our front office. It's just the whole kit and kaboodle about being a part of the Detroit Tigers."
Benoit was named as one of five candidates for the Final Vote, in which fans are able to select the final player on each league's All-Star roster. The balloting runs until Thursday at 4 p.m. ET.
Cabrera started for the AL All-Stars at first base in 2010, but as an injury replacement for Justin Morneau. For all his achievements, he had never been voted into the lineup. From the first release of vote totals this year, it was clear he had made the jump to stardom among the fans.
"It means a lot," Cabrera said. "I'm excited that it's my first time."
Though third base in the AL might have the most crowded field in baseball, Cabrera (8,013,874 votes) ran away with the vote over Baltimore's Manny Machado (4,101,089), Texas' Adrian Beltre (2,330,907), Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria (1,906,184), Oakland's Josh Donaldson (1,139,931) and others. Cabrera led all AL players in votes for the past month before Davis beat him out at the end.
"It's a crying shame this is his first start," Scherzer said. "He's the best player in the game right now. For him going to New York and kind of being the face of baseball, it's going to be great for the game, but great for the Tigers and great for him."
It wasn't simply on the strength of last year's Triple Crown and MVP honors. Cabrera leads the league in batting average and RBIs, he's second to Davis in home runs, and when needed he has carried a Detroit offense that has struggled at various points.
This is Cabrera's eighth All-Star selection and his fourth in a row as a Tiger, matching the streak he put together with the Marlins.
"I couldn't believe that he's never been a starter, and this is his first one," Hunter said. "I mean, he's been the best hitter on the planet for a long time, so I'm pretty sure he's excited."
Though Fielder lost his starting nod at first base to Davis, finishing second in the vote after winning last year, the reigning Home Run Derby champion still earned the players' nod as a reserve for his fifth All-Star selection. For all the talk about his drop in batting average from last year's career-best .313, he's on pace to top 120 RBIs, a level of production that still puts him at the top of his position.
Peralta earned his second All-Star selection in three years, this time backing up Baltimore's J.J. Hardy at shortstop. Despite a career-best .306 average that led his position entering Saturday, he couldn't beat out Hardy for the starting nod, but he earned the players' vote.
"It makes me feel proud of everything that I do this year," Peralta said. "I know a lot of fans and everyone, they know what I can do."
The surprise was Hunter, who was among the top three vote-getters in the outfield early in voting before losing out in the end. Though he was a nine-game Gold Glove winner over the previous decade, and one of the faces of the game, he had made just four All-Star teams over his career, most recently in 2010.
Now 37, he'll be the oldest position player on the AL roster, and the oldest Tigers All-Star since Kenny Rogers started the 2006 game at age 41.
"I'm thrilled for Torii Hunter," Leyland said. "Players' choice, it doesn't get any better than that."
The look on Hunter's face seemed to reinforce that.
"I'm thankful to be an All-Star, go out there and represent the Old English D," he said. "This could possibly be my last one. You just don't know. So I'm just going to go out there and enjoy it, probably more than anybody out there. It's going to be a lot of fun. I'm honored."
With no fan vote for the starting pitchers, the top five spots were up to the players. What looked like a long shot for Scherzer in May turned into an easy pick by the time players voted.
Of the four other pitchers in AL history to start a season 13-0, three of them -- Clemens in 1986, Ron Guidry in 1978 and Dave McNally in 1969 -- made the All-Star team that summer. The exception, Johnny Allen in 1937, was injured at midseason and made the All-Star Game the following year.
Final Vote candidates
|P||Steve Delabar, TOR|
|P||David Robertson, NYY|
|P||Koji Uehara, BOS|
|P||Tanner Scheppers, TEX|
|P||Joaquin Benoit, DET|
|SS||Ian Desmond, WAS|
|1B||Freddie Freeman, ATL|
|1B||Adrian Gonzalez, LAD|
|OF||Hunter Pence, SF|
|OF||Yasiel Puig, LAD|
Whatever the debate over Scherzer's secondary stats, his All-Star selection was a no-brainer. He received 351 votes from his fellow players, more than any other pitcher on the ballot. The next-closest AL starter, Felix Hernandez, had 253.
"That means a lot to get the respect from the other players," Scherzer said. "It's something you really don't pitch for, nothing you really do besides work hard, but when you start to get some personal recognition in this game, it's always a very neat feeling."
Depending on Leyland's decision for a starter in the game, Scherzer could be in for another honor.
"If Skipper wants to give me the ball for that game, that would be pretty special to me," Scherzer said, "just because of how many other great pitchers are in the game right now, how many great pitchers are going to that game, how many are worthy of starting, too. If I'm selected, that would just mean so much to me."
Verlander, last year's AL All-Star starting pitcher, was not among the top five on the player ballot, a result few would have envisioned going into the season, but one that wasn't necessarily a surprise given his numbers. With six spots on the All-Star pitching staff to fill, however, Leyland used one to honor his ace, who made the team for the fifth straight year.
"First of all, I think he's one of the great pitchers in baseball. I think that's obvious," Leyland said. "I think you take a little bit of history into consideration. I think you also take into consideration that he's won nine games, he's got a lot of strikeouts, and I think that he's one of the faces of baseball, and I think he deserves to go. I think when you put all those combinations together, I think it's a no-brainer."
In many ways, it's a symbolic gesture. Unless the Tigers' rotation order changes, Verlander won't pitch in this year's game. He's currently on schedule to start the Tigers' final game before the break, and Leyland won't use any pitcher in the All-Star Game who started on Sunday. Verlander will make the trip and take part in the All-Star festivities, but will likely be replaced on the roster.
"Making it and going, the experience, is what I cherish when I'm there," Verlander said. "Obviously I would like to pitch, but just being a part of those festivities [is important]. If I'm not pitching, I can really take part in the festivities."
The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again have fans participating in the official voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com via the 2013 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote, and their voice will represent 20 percent of the official vote determining the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
The 2013 All-Star Game will be played at Citi Field on Tuesday, July 16. Come to MLB.com for extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.
The 84th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM also will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.