Lindor and Hand Join Santana on American League All-Star Team
Bob Toth | On 30, Jun 2019
Concerns about the Indians being underrepresented in an All-Star Game hosted by the city were squashed with the news that the deserving duo were joining Carlos Santana, who was named on Thursday as the starting first baseman for the AL squad for the annual July exhibition.
The 25-year-old Lindor has been one of the leading offensive weapons for the Indians this season. The switch-hitter and Indians’ All-Star representative in 2016, 2017, and 2018 began the year on the 10-day injured list and missed three and a half weeks, but has put up solid numbers since rejoining the lineup. In 64 games this season, he has posted a .291/.349/.498 triple slash with 16 doubles, 12 homers, and 27 RBI while stealing 12 bases in 13 attempts. He was selected to the game by his fellow players.
Minnesota’s Jorge Polanco will start the game at short for the AL team, led by Boston manager Alex Cora. Plenty of deserving names missed the opportunity at short, where Chicago’s Tim Anderson (.317/.342/.491 with 14 2B, 11 HR, 37 RBI, 15 SB), Texas’ Elvis Andrus (.309/.345/.457 with 18 2B, 7 HR, 43 RBI, 16 SB), Boston’s Xander Bogaerts (.299/.392/.540 with 27 2B, 16 HR, 57 RBI), and New York’s Gleyber Torres (.295/.365/.548 with 14 2B, 19 HR, and 47 RBI) have all posted impressive seasons on pace with, or even better than, Lindor’s.
Hand’s overall numbers were skewed on Tuesday when he blew his first save of the season in ugly fashion against the Kansas City Royals. Even after he exceeded his previous four runs allowed for the whole season in the five-run outing, he still owns a respectable 2.29 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP. He has earned a 4-3 record with 23 saves in 24 opportunities (after saving a nail-biter on Sunday afternoon in Baltimore) while recording 53 strikeouts and just nine walks in 35 1/3 innings of work. His save total is tied for the American League lead and is four off of the pace of the Major League lead, held by one-time Indians pitcher Kirby Yates of San Diego.
Before adding five runs without recording an out in that game Tuesday, Hand had a 1.05 ERA and a 0.79 WHIP with 22 saves in 22 chances to open his first 35 games of the year. The 29-year-old has now been named an All-Star in each of the last three seasons, including his 2017 and 2018 National League All-Star appearances with the San Diego Padres.
Other pitchers on the AL staff include Baltimore’s John Means; Chicago’s Lucas Giolito; Detroit’s Shane Greene; Houston’s Gerrit Cole, Ryan Pressly, and Justin Verlander; Minnesota’s Jake Odorizzi; New York’s Aroldis Chapman; Tampa’s Charlie Morton; Texas’ Mike Minor; and Toronto’s Marcus Stroman.
Santana will be the Indians’ first starter at first base since Jim Thome was selected at the position in 1999. He was one of the top three vote getters at his position through the initial voting, then won the “Starters Election” against Minnesota’s C.J. Cron and New York’s Luke Voit. Neither of them were selected as a reserve on the team.
Through his first 82 games, Santana is hitting .293 with a .411 on-base percentage and a .534 slugging mark with 15 doubles, one triple, 18 homers, and 50 RBI. He is the team leader in hits, runs, homers, RBI, and walks and is second in doubles.
Santana is joined by DJ LeMahieu (New York) at second, Polanco at short, and Alex Bregman (Houston) at third to round out the infield, and former Indian Michael Brantley (Houston), his teammate George Springer (Houston), and Mike Trout (Los Angeles) compose the outfield. Gary Sanchez (New York) will be the AL’s starting catcher, while Texas’ Hunter Pence will serve as the designated hitter.
In addition to the previously named starters for the AL team, the following reserves were named on Sunday: catcher James McCann (Chicago); first baseman Jose Abreu (Chicago); second basemen Tommy La Stella (Los Angeles) and Whit Merrifield (Kansas City); third baseman Matt Chapman (Oakland); outfielders Mookie Betts (Boston), Joey Gallo (Texas), and Austin Meadows (Tampa Bay); and designated hitters J.D. Martinez (Boston) and Daniel Vogelbach (Seattle).
Houston leads all clubs with six All-Stars. There are 31 first time selections on the All-Star rosters already this year.
The 90th Major League Baseball All-Star Game comes to Cleveland on Tuesday, July 9.
Photo: Tony Dejak/AP Photo