Astros have 5 players named to MLB All-Star Game roster

OAKLAND, Calif. – The Astros had five players named to the American League roster for the 2022 MLB All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on July 19.

Eight-time All-Star Jose Altuve was previously announced as the AL’s starting second baseman. On Sunday, when pitchers and reserves were revealed, Astros ace Justin Verlander received his ninth All-Star selection. Pitcher Framber Valdez, outfielder Kyle Tucker and designated hitter Yordan Alvarez were each named first-time All-Stars, though Alvarez is unlikely to participate due to a hand issue that saw him go on the injured list Sunday.

Houston’s five All-Star selections are in addition to Astros manager Dusty Baker, who will manage the American League team along with his entire Astros coaching staff.

The most All-Stars the Astros have had in a single season is six, which happened in 2017 and 2018. The Astros also had five All-Stars in 2019. Houston has 27 MLB All-Star selections since 2017, more than any other club in that span.

Before the Astros played the A’s on Sunday in Oakland, Baker called Verlander, Valdez and Tucker into his office individually to deliver the good news (Alvarez had already flown back to Houston). The Astros then held a team meeting where each All-Star had the opportunity to address the room.

“I think these moments are always something to celebrate with your team because I mean, we wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for everybody involved,” Verlander said. “So, you know, it’s nice to do it as a group.”

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The 39-year-old Verlander was an All-Star six times when he played for the Tigers, and then as an Astro in 2018 and 2019. Getting back to the All-Star game this season, in a comeback year following Tommy John surgery that erased his entire 2020 season, feels different, he said.

“The new perspective that I’ve had from being away, I think, allows me to appreciate things like this more and kind of be in the moment,” Verlander said, “and maybe take a step back and realize how special this is – and how it can be taken away from you just like that. ”

Alvarez entered Sunday leading the majors in OPS (1,058) and ranked third with 26 home runs. He was invited to the Home Run Derby prior to being placed on the injured list with right hand inflammation. The last Astros player to participate in the Home Run Derby was Alex Bregman in 2018 and 2019.

Making his first All-Star team is Valdez, who is 28 and in his fifth major-league season has emerged as a force in the Astros’ rotation. His 2.64 season ERA is the best of Houston’s starting pitchers aside from Verlander (2.00) and he has thrown two complete games, one nine innings and one eight.

Valdez said being an All-Star is something he’s wanted and fought for all year. Asked if he expected that dream to come true before Sunday’s reveal, he did not hesitate.

“Yes,” Valdez replied in English, before continuing in Spanish. “I just worked really hard for this. Tried working tirelessly for this, tried focusing on the game a lot more and just tried having really quality outings every single time I went out there so that today, I could be an All-Star. ”

Tucker, on the other hand, was more taken aback when Baker broke the news.

“When he told me I was like,‘ Wait, really? ’” Tucker said. “I was pretty excited. I wasn’t sure at first but then I was like oh, that’s awesome. It’s definitely an honor being able to go and getting selected. Not everyone gets to go and not everyone is an All-Star so you know, it’s definitely an honor to be able to go represent the Astros and everything. ”

The 25-year-old outfielder is arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter. Adding the title of “All-Star” to his resume should help him in salary negotiations.

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Tucker paired elite defense with slugging aptitude to earn his first All-Star nod. He entered Sunday ranked fourth in the American League in RBI (58) and tied for fifth in steals (14) while batting .259 with 16 home runs. Per Fangraphs, he has been credited with 10 defensive runs saved, which ties him with Brett Phillips for the most by an AL outfielder this season.

Verlander said he doesn’t plan to pass along much information to his Astros teammates who are first-time All-Stars, preferring to let them experience it in their own way.

“Just kind of let them figure it out on their own and just kind of watch them,” he said. “I think one of the things that will help these guys too, is the World Series appearances. It’s kind of a media circus similar to that, so I think they’ll be prepared for all the media and stuff. It’s just a really cool experience. It’s a lot more relaxed than that atmosphere obviously. So it’s fun to see how guys interact with other players and just kind of soak it all in. ”

Although the Astros are plentifully represented by a pair of perennial All-Stars in Altuve and Verlander as well as their trio of first-timers, Baker said he thought relievers Ryne Stanek, Rafael Montero and Ryan Pressly had made cases to be All-Stars as well.

“It’s cool, it’s real cool,” Baker said. “I just hope we put on a good show.”

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