Glen Perkins, his manager said Monday, “has quite a streak going.”
Paul Molitor was talking about saves, 27 in a row that Perkins has converted. But the Twins closer now owns another impressive streak: For the third consecutive season, he is headed to the All-Star Game. He will represent the American League next Tuesday in Cincinnati.
Perkins was the lone Twins representative chosen by a vote of AL players, the first time since 2012 that only one Twins player was selected. But there could be a second: Brian Dozier is on the “Final Five” ballot, in which fans will choose the final All-Star in an online vote from among five candidates.
Which is a bit of an injustice, Perkins said.
“He’s been the best second baseman in baseball for the last year and a half,” Perkins said of his teammate. “He deserves it.”
But in the opinion of the AL players, who elected backups, Cleveland’s Jason Kipnis deserved to be behind fan-elected starter Jose Altuve of Houston. And Royals and AL manager Ned Yost, who needed to add a Red Sox player to the 35-player roster, chose Red Sox all-around utilityman Brock Holt, who has filled in at second for Dustin Pedroia during his stint on the disabled list. That took a spot that might have gone to Dozier, whose hopes are now up to a weeklong online election, albeit one that no Twins player has ever won in five previous tries.
Dozier entered Monday leading the AL with 45 extra-base hits and 62 runs scored, and his 26 doubles were second in the league — to Kipnis’ 27. The Indians’ lone All-Star was batting .341 to Dozier’s .260, and has a .925 OPS to Dozier’s .842, so his selection is certainly defensible. But it might not be so popular in the Twins clubhouse.
“The all-around season he’s had, it’s been remarkable,” Molitor said of the four-year veteran, before Dozier’s 46th extra-base hit of the year, a walk-off homer in the 10th inning, made the Twins a 4-2 winner over Baltimore. “No matter what you ask of him, whether it’s leading off, moving down in the order, he’s always been willing to do whatever is best for the team.”
Dozier — who would become the first Twins All-Star second baseman since Chuck Knoblauch in 1997 if he’s elected — is pitted against Kansas City third baseman Mike Moustakas, who if elected would be the seventh Royals player on this year’s team; Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner; Tigers left fielder Yoenis Cespedes; and Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts. “Hopefully we can get him in,” Perkins said. “He belongs, he really does. He’s an All-Star player. Nothing against the other guys who are going, but I get to see him a lot. I like him out there.”
Perkins is the fourth pitcher in Twins history to be invited to three consecutive All-Star Games, joining Camilo Pascual (1961 and both 1962 games), Rick Aguilera (1991-93) and Johan Santana (2005-07) with that distinction.
“It’s well-deserved,” Molitor said of Perkins’ invitation. “I think he’s probably been the best closer in the American League.”
Perkins hasn’t given up a run since May 29 and has given up only five runs all season, a 1.27 ERA that made him about as automatic as any player can be. He is 27-for-27 this season, tied for the Twins’ franchise record for consecutive saves, and since becoming the full-time closer in June 2012, he had converted 111 saves in 124 chances, an 89.5 percent success rate.
“He gets ahead consistently,” Molitor said, “and when he does, he’s devastating, either with the location of the fastball, or the slider diving.”
Perkins didn’t pitch in the 2013 game in New York — he was warming up in the bullpen when former teammate Joe Nathan got the final out with a runner on base for a 3-0 AL victory. But he enjoyed one of the most memorable moments of his career last July, when he took the mound in Target Field, pitching to Twins teammate Kurt Suzuki. The St. Paul native got three quick outs on just nine pitches, giving the AL a 5-3 victory before his hometown crowd.
“It’s going to be fun. As far as trying to top that, [it’s] probably not going to happen,” said Perkins, whose selection was announced by Molitor in a pregame team meeting. “But it’s still an honor, and it’s something I’ll never get tired of.”
For Dozier, winning the final-five vote would be recognition of his status as the Twins’ most dangerous hitter, and best all-around player. For the third year in a row, the Mississippi native leads the Twins in home runs. He’s also tied for the AL lead in runs scored, and is second in doubles. Dozier took part in the Home Run Derby last season, but if elected, this would be his first selection as an All-Star.