With just under a month left until the All-Star Game, let’s take a look at who may be representing the Reds on the National League roster in Kansas City. While a lot can change over the next few weeks, it definitely seems likely that the Reds will have multiple players on the All-Star team for the third straight season.
There are two players who, in my opinion, are locks to make the team. One is obviously Joey Votto. Yesterday’s voting update showed that Votto pulled away from the other NL first baseman and now leads by over 1.2 million votes. It really shouldn’t even be that close. The guy in second is Lance Berkman, who has played only 13 games this season and has received less than half of the votes Votto has. Votto has received more votes than anyone else in the NL but Matt Kemp. He’ll be voted into the starting lineup.
The other lock is Aroldis Chapman. Recent struggles aside, Chapman’s numbers are still off the charts. He has been the subject of more conversation and more buzz from the local and national media than anyone else on the team, and he has backed it up by having a historically good season. More than that, people just want to see him pitch. Even casual baseball fans get excited about the prospect of seeing him play. He should be one of the relievers on the All-Star squad.
After that, it gets a bit tricky.
Brandon Phillips could be on the team as a reserve. His batting average is a bit low, but his six home runs and 31 RBI through Tuesday both rank second among NL second basemen. However, if Phillips is not voted in, there are a few other second basemen who also deserve spots on the roster, such as Omar Infante and Jose Altuve. Phillips still has a chance to catch Dan Uggla in the voting with a hot month of June, but if not, I think his reputation and his glove will be enough to earn him a spot.
Johnny Cueto is also a strong choice to make the team. After his complete game victory on Tuesday, he lowered his ERA to 2.46, ninth in the National League, to go along with a 7-3 record. His numbers are good enough, but there is one factor that may come into play for both Cueto and Phillips: the manager.
If Cueto and Phillips fail to make the team through the players’ and coaches’ ballot, they will have to be selected by the NL manager. And who is managing the NL All-Star team this year? Our old pal Tony LaRussa. I don’t think LaRussa thinks too highly of Phillips or Cueto.
Finally, Jay Bruce also has a remote chance if he goes on one of his signature blazing hot streaks. There is a strong crop of NL outfielders this year, and watching Bruce play everyday, it doesn’t seem as though he is having that great of a year. His .260 batting average certainly leaves a bit to be desired. But he still is on pace for 35 home runs and over 100 RBI. Last year he essentially made the All-Star team with one ridiculous month, perhaps he can do it again in 2012.
No matter who ultimately makes the team, the likelihood of having multiple Reds on the roster is a refreshing change of pace from the teams I watched as a young fan. For nearly all of my adolescent and teenage years, the Reds only sent one player to the All-Star game, and in many cases it was only because they had to have at least one by rule. I’d watch the whole game only to see whoever made the team that year play maybe an inning or two. The talent that the Reds have developed over the last few years has ensured that there will be at least a few players in consideration for seasons to come.