The starting lineups for this summer’s Major League Baseball All-Star Game were announced Thursday night, with several surprises getting the nod.
Unheralded free agent signees Hunter Pence and DJ LeMahieu were among the names unveiled at their respective positions. LeMahieu, the New York Yankees’ second baseman, and Pence, the Texas Rangers’ designated hitter, will each suit up for the American League.
Pence, 36, is perhaps the biggest surprise after it appeared his time in the majors was coming to an end with the San Francisco Giants last season. after signing a minor league contract with the Rangers in the spring, he was a consistent threat in the lineup (.294 average, 15 home runs) until he was placed on the injured list with a right groin strain on June 17.
“To make the transition from the performance last year, to stand in this moment I hope that I’m sitting here kind of as a messenger — don’t let people tell you what you can and can’t do,” Pence said. “I know this isn’t the end goal. The goal is to win a World Series, to make the playoffs. But this is a big honor, a tremendous honor.”
Pence, now a four-time All-Star, will be starting the game for the first time.
LeMahieu, 30, has been a revelation for the Yankees since signing a two-year, $24 million contract in the offseason. He leads the American League in hitting with a .336 average and has added 12 homers and 54 RBIs.
LeMahieu will be a first-time All-Star starter, though this is his third roster nod at the exhibition.
Arizona Diamondbacks second baseman Ketel Marte (National League) and Minnesota Twins shortstop Jorge Polanco (AL) were among other unexpected names selected as starters after an impressive first half to the season. They are joined by outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. of the Atlanta Braves (NL) and first baseman Carlos Santana of the Cleveland Indians (AL) as first-time All-Stars.
The majority of the remainder of each starting lineup was comprised of some of the game’s biggest stars, with Los Angeles Angels outfielder and two-time MVP Mike Trout the leading overall vote-getter.
“It makes you feel good,” Trout said. “You put in all the hard work. You play to win, but you also play for all the fans coming to the ballpark to enjoy a baseball game. Enjoy the passion you have for the game. To be voted in and be the highest vote-getter, it means a lot to me.”
Here are the full starting lineups for each league:
Catcher — Gary Sanchez, Yankees
First base — Carlos Santana, Indians
Second base — DJ LeMahieu, Yankees
Shortstop — Jorge Polanco, Twins
Third base — Alex Bregman, Astros
Outfield — Mike Trout, Angels; George Springer, Astros; Michael Brantley, Astros
Designated hitter — Hunter Pence, Rangers
Catcher — Willson Contreras, Cubs
First base — Freddie Freeman, Braves
Second base — Ketel Marte, Diamondbacks
Shortstop — Javier Baez, Cubs
Third base — Nolan Arenado, Rockies
Outfield — Christian Yelich, Brewers; Cody Bellinger, Dodgers; Ronald Acuna Jr., Braves
The remainder of each league’s roster will be announced Sunday.
This is the first year fan balloting was divided into two phases: “The Primary,” which narrowed the starting choices to three at each position, and “The Starters,” which will began online Wednesday at noon ET and closed Thursday at 4 p.m. ET.
The All-Star Game will be played July 9 at Progressive Field in Cleveland.
—Field Level Media