ARLINGTON, Texas – The Texas Rangers had a club-record seven players selected to the 2012 All-Star Game and three of them were voted starters by the fans. That breaks the previous club record of six set in 2010 and it means that Rangers manager Ron Washington, the skipper of the AL squad for a second consecutive year, will see plenty of familiar faces.
It’s possible they could get an eighth player in the game if fans vote Yu Darvish into the game. He’s one of five players vying for the final spot on the club through online voting.
Outfielder Josh Hamilton, third baseman Adrian Beltre and catcher Mike Napoli will start at their respective positions. Joining them at Kauffman Stadium on July 10 for the All-Star Game are starting pitcher Matt Harrison, closer Joe Nathan, second baseman Ian Kinsler and shortstop Elvis Andrus.
The reserves were chosen by the players and coaches from around the league and the final eight spots, including the five players in the running for the final spot as voted on by the fans, were chosen by Washington. Kinsler was voted in by the players and Andrus was taken by Washington.
"It's great to have them all there," Washington said of the seven Rangers. "I think the type of year we're having, we're having because of those guys. I don't think the Texas Rangers have to apologize because we've got good players. I certainly didn't pick my guys being selfish. I picked them because they are very deserving of being All-Stars, bottom line."
Hamilton received more votes from fans than anyone in history, with 11,073,744 million, and will start his fifth consecutive All-Star Game. He has a hit in each of his four All-Star Games and an RBI in the 2009 contest in St. Louis. The 31-year-old is batting .319, sixth in the AL and has a league-high 73 RBIs. His 25 home runs are second to Jose Bautista (26).
Third baseman Adrian Beltre and catcher Mike Napoli were voted in as starters for the first time. Beltre is making his third straight All-Star appearance and started last year when Alex Rodriguez pulled out with knee soreness. Beltre had a hit and played three innings in the field. He’s hitting .328, third-best in the AL, with 14 homers and 52 RBIs.
Napoli is heading to his first All-Star Game despite batting just.238. But Rangers fans gave him a boost, thanks in large part of his tremendous second-half of 2011.
Harrison and Nathan continue a trend of Rangers pitchers to make them game. It’s the third consecutive year that Texas has sent at least two pitchers to the All-Star Game. They club had a four-year drought of not having a pitcher in the game before Lee and Neftali Feliz made it in 2010.
For Harrison, it’s a reward for a steady and consistent first half of 2012. He earned his 11th win Friday, which ties him with fellow All-Star David Price for the league-lead, and the 26-year-old has a 3.16 ERA to lead all Rangers’ starters. Nathan, 37, has proved that he’s fully healthy after missing all of 2010 rehabbing from Tommy John surgery and then getting back to pitching at a more competitive level in the second half of 2011. After struggling a bit the first week of the season, Nathan has controlled the ninth inning of games. He’s racked up 18 saves, has closed out a handful of 4-run games to make sure the opposition hasn’t mounted a late comeback, and has a 1.87 ERA.
Kinsler, 30, is a three-time All-Star. He led the fan voting over Robinson Cano until the final few weeks, when Cano overtook him. But Kinsler’s versatility -- he’s tied for third among second baseman with nine homers as a leadoff hitter, is second in stolen bases and first in the AL in runs scored -- helped him earn that spot.
Andrus, 23, is having the best offensive year of his career, batting .302 with one homer and 31 RBIs. He also leads AL shortstops with 16 stolen bases and 50 runs scored. This is his second All-Star trip after finishing second to Derek Jeter for the second consecutive season. The manager felt like he deserved another invitation to an All-Star Game after his solid first half.
"Each year he gets more and more mature. Each year his focus get better, which makes his game get better," Washington said. "Each year he recognizes the important part that he plays in the middle of that field and each year he gets better. He's a talent. His aptitude is tremendous. He's a guy that wants to be in the spotlight, wants to be the man, wants to be better. That's why each year that he's been here at the Major Leagues, his game has gotten better because his focus, his concentation, his dedication to his art has gotten better. He's certainly been playing some tremendous baseball this first half."
The 25-year-old Darvish has a final chance to make the club. He said Friday that he didn’t deserve to make the All-Star team, but it’s now up to the finals. Washington said Saturday that Darvish was just being humble. The Japanese star has certainly met or exceeded most expectations since arriving in Arizona for spring training. He’s gotten to know his teammates, worked to figure out a new culture and on top of that is adjusting to a new league. He’s compiled 10 wins, the most by any rookie in the league, and has a 3.57 ERA. He’s fourth in strikeouts with 106. But he’s also third in the league in walks (50).
"In order to get the guys that I feel are All-Stars on there, and Yu is one of them, I just feel like he has a good chance of winning the five-man vote," Washington said. "I'm encouraging our fans to get out there and make sure that it happens. He and Nathan and Harry are having outstanding years and I do feel like each and every one of them deserve to be an All-Star and I felt like this was the best way we could do this to make sure that happens."