OAKLAND — Initiating second baseman Jose Altuve and manager Dusty Baker will be joined by some familiar faces in the American League dugout for the July 19 All-Star game as four Astros were called up to the reserve squad.
Verlander, 39, leads the American League with 11 wins, and his 2.00 ERA is only behind Tampa Bay’s Shane McClanahan (1.73 ERA). Verlander has been a workaholic in his return season after missing all of 2021 while recovering from Tommy John surgery, throwing at least seven innings in eight of his 16 starts and recording 12 quality starts.
“It means a lot,” Verlander said. “A lot of things in that first half puts a lot into perspective and kind of reminds you of all the hard work that went into getting me here, to bring me back here. To be recognized and selected by my peers is a great honor.”
Perhaps no All-Star has been safer than Alvarez, who has positioned himself as an early MVP nominee. He competed Sunday and led the majors in OPS (1.058), slugging percentage (.653) and at-bats per home run (10.31). Alvarez was a finalist starting as a designated hitter but was ultimately edged out by the Angels’ 52% to 48% Shohei Ohtani.
“It’s a tremendous honor for him, such a young player, to finish second to Shohei,” Baker said after the All-Star Game starters were announced Friday.
“I’m super happy for [Alvarez and Valdez],” Tucker said. “You definitely deserve it. They had phenomenal years and worked for it their whole lives.”
After a breakout season in 2021, Tucker is putting together a solid 2022, posting .259/.351/.478 with 16 home runs coming into play Sunday. Tucker’s 58 RBIs rank second among AL outfielders behind Aaron Judge (65), and his 14 steals are the fifth-most in the league. He was also a key defender for Houston, according to Fangraphs, as his 10 defensive runs saved by an AL outfielder this season are most tied to Tampa Bay’s Brett Phillips.
Valdez, who has emerged as one of the best lefties in baseball, completes the Astros quintet en route to Los Angeles. Valdez has won 8-4 this season with a 2.64 ERA in 17 starts and is currently stringing 14 quality starts in a row. He couldn’t help but smile as he discussed putting together his first All-Star team.
“I just worked really hard for it,” Valdez said through interpreter Jenloy Herrera. “I’ve tried to work tirelessly to focus a lot more on the game and make quality outings every time I’ve been out there, so today I could be an all-star.”
Houston’s five All-Stars will be in good company as Baker and his staff take the helm of the AL team at Dodger Stadium. It’s a special opportunity, Baker said, to manage his own players as well as some of the league’s best players at this prestigious event.
“I looked at this list and phew, they have some bad guys on this list,” Baker said. “I feel it’s an honor to be a manager and we’re on the same page if [just] for a day.”