It’s been eight years since the Royals have had more than one representative in the Major League Baseball All-Star game, and the streak doesn’t figure to end this season.
In fact, were it not for Major League Baseball’s rule that one player from each team make the All-Star team, the Royals most likely would not have a player in the Midsummer Classic this season.
But since MLB wants everyone to feel good like Little League, a Royal will take the spot of a more deserving player. So, let’s take a look at who that Royal could be.
Eric Hosmer: The Royals’ first baseman is probably the team’s best player right now and will likely be in contention for an All-Star appearance for many years to come. But this season, a few things work against the rookie. The first is that he didn’t get called up until May 6, so he missed almost 30 games of possible production. So his five home runs and 22 RBI don’t come close to the production of other first baseman in the American League. And that’s Hosmer’s second problem — the AL is stacked at first base. It will be hard enough picking between Mark Teixeira, Miguel Cabrera, David Ortiz, Adrian Gonzalez and Paul Konerko. Hosmer has virtually no chance to sneak in.
Billy Butler: He’s a DH, but will be grouped in with the first baseman in the American League. Butler actually owns the third-best on-base percentage in the American League and second-best among first basemen. But he hasn’t hit for enough power (six home runs) and doesn’t actually play the field. Like Hosmer, the competition is probably too great for him to have a realistic shot at showing up in Arizona.
Jeff Francoeur: He has been one of the more streaky players in baseball during his career, but so far this season he has been pretty solid. He is fourth among AL outfielders in RBI, 10th in HR, 11th in stolen bases and 14th in OPS. Those numbers aren’t worthy of being one of the 6-8 outfielders that will be taken for the game, but again, someone on the Royals has to be picked. But is he the best outfield option on his team?
Alex Gordon: The former third baseman turned left fielder has had a resurgent season this year, making the bust label some had put on the former No. 2 overall pick possibly premature. Gordon is second among AL outfielders in doubles, seventh in RBI and runs and eighth in OPS. If a Royals’ position player is picked for the All-Star game, something that hasn’t occurred since 2005 when Mike Sweeney was selected, it should be Gordon.
Aaron Crow: When Crow was named the closer for a struggling Joakim Soria, I predicted it wouldn’t last very long, and it didn’t as Soria is back in the role. However, Crow has still had a much better season than Soria and would deserve to go over the two-time All-Star. Crow currently sports a 1.34 ERA, has struck out more than one batter per inning and is holding opponents to a .188 batting average. Also working in his favor is the fact that when a team doesn’t have a true All-Star, a reliever is often the one chosen. Crow could be this year’s Evan Meek, a setup guy for the Pirates last season who compiled a 0.96 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 47 innings when he was selected to the 2010 All-Star game.
So who is the choice? I think it will ultimately come down to Gordon and Crow, with Crow the most likely to get the nod due to the field not being as strong in the reliever crop as it is in the outfield. Either way, it’s likely that whoever is chosen from the Royals, that player won’t see the field.
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Written by Ryan Riordan