OAKLAND — Starting second baseman Jose Altuve and manager Dusty Baker will be joined by familiar faces in the American League sideline dugout during the All-Star Game on July 19, as four Astros were named to the Reserve.
Verlander, 39, leads the American League with 11 wins, and his 2.00 ERA trails only Tampa Bay’s Shane McClanahan (1.73 ERA). Verlander has been a workaholic in his comeback season after missing all of 2021 while recovering from Tommy John surgery, pitching at least seven innings in eight of his 16 starts and recording 12 starts quality.
“It means a lot,” Verlander said. “A lot of things from that first half put certain things in perspective, kind of remembering all the hard work that went into getting me here, getting me back here. To be recognized by my peers and to be selected , it’s a great honor.”
Perhaps no All-Star was safer than Alvarez, who positioned himself as an early MVP candidate. He entered Sunday leading the Majors in OPS (1.058), slugging percentage (.653) and batting per homer (10.31). Alvarez was a runner-up to start at designated hitter but was eventually edged out, 52% to 48%, by Shohei Ohtani of the Angels.
“It’s a huge honor for him, such a young player, to finish second to Shohei,” Baker said after the All-Star Game starters were announced on Friday.
“I am very happy for [Alvarez and Valdez]”, Tucker said. “They definitely deserved it. They had phenomenal years and worked their whole lives for it.”
After having a breakout season in 2021, Tucker is setting up for a strong 2022, slashing .259/.351/.478 with 16 home runs coming into play Sunday. Tucker’s 58 RBIs are second to Aaron Judge (65) among AL outfielders, and his 14 steals are tied for fifth in the league. He’s also been a key defenseman for Houston, according to Fangraphs, as his 10 defensive points saved this season are tied with Tampa Bay’s Brett Phillips for the most by an AL outfielder.
Valdez, who has established himself as one of baseball’s best left-handed starters, wraps up the Astros quintet heading to Los Angeles. Valdez is 8-4 with a 2.64 ERA in 17 starts this season, currently stringing 14 straight quality starts. He couldn’t help but smile as he talked about making his first All-Star team.
“I just worked really hard for it,” Valdez said via interpreter Jenloy Herrera. “I tried to work tirelessly for it, I tried to focus a lot more on the game and I just tried to have quality releases every time I went, so today today I could be an All-Star.”
Houston’s five All-Stars will be in good company, as Baker and his team lead the AL squad at Dodger Stadium. It’s a special opportunity, Baker said, to be able to manage his own players as well as some of the best players in the league at this prestigious event.
“I was looking at this list, and whew, they have some bad boys on this list,” Baker said. “I think it’s an honor to lead, and we’re on the same side, if [just] for a day.”