Only one player, of the 38 invited to be part of the AL All-Star team last July, hasn’t played in the majors yet in 2018: the Twins’ Ervin Santana. Only one of those 38 has been optioned to the minors this year: the Twins’ Miguel Sano.
Only three didn’t finish the season with the team whose uniform they wore in Miami: the Athletics’ Yonder Alonso, the Tigers’ Justin Upton, and the Twins’ Brandon Kintzler.
Of the same number of players invited to play for the AL in the 2016 All-Star Game, only two were traded before the season — before the month — was over: the Yankees’ Andrew Miller and the Twins’ Eduardo Nunez.
In 2015, the crop of 38 AL All-Star invitees included only one whose career would end just 32 appearances later: the Twins’ Glen Perkins.
Hey, Jose Berrios: Are you sure it’s safe to go to Washington this week?
“It’s OK,” the Twins’ lone representative going to Nationals Park said. “Don’t worry. That’s not going to happen to me.”
Whew. He sounded unconcerned, and he’s probably right. Certainly one teammate, himself a former All-Star, believes he is.
“Is there a curse? That’s a unique way of looking at it,” Brian Dozier, who homered in the 2015 game in Cincinnati, said with a laugh. “I mean, I’m still here.”
Good point. Berrios said he’s honored by his selection, and will take his wife and two children to Washington with him. But he told his parents not to cancel their planned vacation at Disney World. Wait till next year, he said.
“I said, 'No, go there. It’s OK. I’ll keep working, maybe I get there more times,’ ” Berrios said. “I always prepare myself to be one of the best, every year. If you don’t get it, that’s OK, but that’s my goal.”
The All-Star Game is a showcase, but mostly not for the Twins, who have a decidedly mediocre history in the classic. There are exceptions — Kirby Puckett, a .292 hitter in 10 appearances, is the only Twin ever chosen MVP of the game, after hitting a home run and a double in Baltimore in 1993. Harmon Killebrew batted .348 with three home runs and a 1.139 OPS in the 10 All-Star Games as a Twin. Johan Santana gave up one hit in three one-inning All-Star appearances. And Torii Hunter had one of the game’s most memorable defensive plays when he robbed Barry Bonds of a home run in 2002.
But Twins’ representatives have a collective .236 average over the years, with Dozier, Killebrew and Puckett owning the only home runs. They have 15 RBI, just three since 2000. Only seven doubles in 174 at-bats, three by Tony Oliva, but none since Joe Mauer in 2009. Their pitchers have a 3.92 ERA, with one win (Frank Viola, 1988), two losses (Camilo Pascual, 1962, and Bert Blyleven, 1973), and Perkins’ memorable save in front of his home crowd at Target Field in 2014. Only three Twins pitchers have started an All-Star Game, none since Jack Morris in 1991.
It’s not a bad history, but it’s not exactly filled with indelible memories, either.
Well, except to the players themselves.
“The games are really special. The whole time you’re there is, actually,” said Mauer, a six-time honoree. “Probably my favorite one is having Jim O’Neill, my high school baseball coach [at Cretin-Derham Hall], pitch to me in the Home Run Derby. He helped me out quite a bit in my career, so to bring him that experience was special to me.”
For Dozier, the home run was great, but just being around the game’s biggest names was the biggest delight. “The whole time you’re there, you’re around greatness,” Dozier said. “It’s incredible to be part of it.”
Dozier and Mauer both say they’d love to be picked to another All-Star Game some day. But this year, they will just watch Berrios.
“Four days off,” Dozier said, “sounds pretty good to me right now.”
AL Central Intennigence
Jose Berrios will have plenty of company from the AL Central at the All-Star Game:
Cleveland has more All-Stars than the rest of the division combined. Jose Ramirez was elected to start at third base, based on his 28-homer season. The players voted Corey Kluber, shortstop Francisco Lindor and outfielder Michael Brantley to the team. Trevor Bauer was added for Justin Verlander, who pitches Sunday for the Houston Astros.
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Players voted Salvador Perez onto the team as Kansas City’s lone representative, but even he seemed to acknowledge it was more because of reputation than production. Perez was batting just .217 into Saturday’s game — second baseman Whit Merrifield (.305, five homers, 30 RBI) had a far stronger case — yet the Royals’ catcher was chosen for a sixth consecutive year.
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Joe Jimenez has only thrown 60 innings in his major league career, and 34 of his 44 outings this year came in the eighth inning. But with Miguel Cabrera and Shane Greene injured, the 23-year-old setup man was the most deserving Tigers All-Star this season. Still, it was a shock: Jimenez (4-1, 2.85 ERA) cried upon being informed he’d been chosen.
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Though he is batting only .208 since May 20, Jose Abreu received 1.8 million votes and was elected by fans to start at first base. Abreu will be the first White Sox position player to start the All-Star Game since 1996, when Frank Thomas earned the honor. Abreu also made the team as a rookie in 2014.
The Twins have a modest record of success in the All-Star Game. Here’s a look at those who have taken part the most:
Most All-Star Games with the Twins
11 Rod Carew (.161, 5-for-31)
10 Kirby Puckett (.292, 7-for-24)
10 Harmon Killebrew (.348, 8-for-23)
6 Joe Mauer (.364, 4-for-11)
6 Tony Oliva (.263, 5-for-19)
Most innings pitched as a Twins All-Star
8 Camilo Pascual (three games, 3.38 ERA)
4 Joe Nathan (four games, 2.25 ERA)
3 Johan Santana (three games, 0.00 ERA)
3 Rick Aguilera (three games, 3.00 ERA)
3 Dean Chance (one game, 3.00 ERA)