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Vlad Jr., Tatis, Ohtani lead way for ASG starters

Shohei Ohtani, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Fernando Tatis Jr. are heading to their first All-Star Game — as starters.

The three headline stars of 2021 dominated the second phase of fan voting at their respective positions to earn starting spots for the 91st All-Star Game scheduled for July 13 at Coors Field in Denver. Guerrero and Tatis were the leading vote-getters in each league, while Ohtani finished with the second-highest percentage in the American League.

Ohtani, voted in as the AL’s designated hitter, has thrilled fans all season with his two-way performance, long home runs and electrifying speed on the bases. He leads the majors with 28 home runs, including an MLB-leading 12 of 425 feet or longer. He’s hitting .277, leads the majors with 49 extra-base hits and ranks third in the majors with 63 RBIs. Ohtani is also tied for the AL lead with four triples and has stolen 11 bases.

While Ohtani had a disastrous start pitching Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium when he failed to finish the first inning, he is still 3-1 with a 3.60 ERA, 83 strikeouts and a .194 batting average allowed over 60 innings. Not since Babe Ruth in 1919, and briefly with Ohtani in 2018 before he underwent Tommy John surgery, has the sport seen such a dominant two-way player.

“He’s a joy for this,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said after Ohtani hit two home runs on Tuesday. “He’s what baseball needs as both a player and as an example.”

Ohtani was on fire at the plate in June, hitting .309 with 13 home runs, including 11 homers in 13 games from June 15 to June 29.

“He’s a generational talent, that’s for sure,” said fellow All-Star starter Aaron Judge of the Yankees.

Ohtani has also committed to participate in the Home Run Derby on July 12, with Pete Alonso of the Mets defending his title.

The runner-up in the Home Run Derby as a rookie in 2019, Guerrero makes his first All-Star team after securing 75% of the vote among the three AL finalists at first base. The 22-year-old is in pursuit of a Triple Crown, leading the AL with 66 RBIs, ranking second to Ohtani with 26 home runs and trailing Michael Brantley in batting average, .340 to .336.

He gets to his first All-Star Game two years earlier than his Hall of Fame father did, as Vladimir Guerrero Sr. made the first of his nine All-Star appearances at age 24.

The Guerreros are the 15th father-son duo in MLB history to each be named All-Stars and fifth father-son pair chosen to the game as starters, joining Ray and Bob Boone, Bob and Bret Boone, Bobby and Barry Bonds and Cecil and Prince Fielder.

Guerrero Sr. saluted his son via social media later Thursday:

“When you were a little kid you used to go with me to the all star game, today you become the youngest player ever to lead the MLB in all star voting. I’m a proud dad!” he wrote.

Tatis has had a roller coaster of a season, missing nine games early on after partially dislocating a shoulder on a swing on April 5, hitting .163 through his first 12 games and then later missing another 10 days after testing positive for COVID-19. When he has played, however, he has crushed the ball, leading the National League with 26 home runs in just 63 games while hitting .300/.387/.705 for an MLB-leading 1.092 OPS.

Tatis beat out Javier Baez of the Cubs and Brandon Crawford of the Giants at shortstop with 64% of the vote, matching Guerrero as a first-time All-Star at 22.

After an initial round of fan voting, the top three at each position entered the second phase. Ohtani beat out J.D. Martinez and Yordan Alvarez at designated hitter with 64% of the vote, while Guerrero outdistanced Yuli Gurriel and Jose Abreu with 75%.

The other starters:

AMERICAN LEAGUE

C: Salvador Perez, Royals (seventh All-Star Game). He earns his sixth starting assignment.

2B: Marcus Semien, Blue Jays (first). With 20 home runs, he beat out Jose Altuve.

3B: Rafael Devers, Red Sox (first). He’s hitting .288 with 20 home runs and an MLB-leading 69 RBIs.

SS: Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox (third). He edged Bo Bichette and Carlos Correa to receive his second All-Star start.

OF: Mike Trout, Angels (ninth). He’s out until after the All-Star break with a calf injury and will be replaced in the starting lineup.

OF: Aaron Judge, Yankees (third). He also started in 2017 and ’18.

OF: Teoscar Hernandez, Blue Jays (first). He barely edged the injured Byron Buxton for the third spot.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

C: Buster Posey, Giants (seventh). After sitting out 2020, Posey is hitting .330 with 12 home runs and will start for the first time since 2017.

1B: Freddie Freeman, Braves (fifth). The 2020 NL MVP has been heating up of late and beat out Max Muncy and Anthony Rizzo.

2B: Adam Frazier, Pirates (first). Frazier entered Thursday hitting .327 and becomes the first Pirates player voted in as a starter since Andrew McCutchen in 2015 (Josh Bell started at DH in 2019).

3B: Nolan Arenado, Cardinals (sixth). The eight-time Gold Glover will make his fourth straight start at third base for the NL, although with a new team this time.

OF: Ronald Acuna Jr., Braves (second). The 23-year-old leads the NL in runs while ranking among the league leaders in home runs and steals.

OF: Nick Castellanos, Reds (first). He began Thursday leading the majors in batting average (.346), hits (102) and doubles (27).

OF: Jesse Winker, Reds (first). Winker and Castellanos will become the first Reds outfielders to start an All-Star Game since Ken Griffey Jr. in 2007. Winker edged out Mookie Betts for the third spot.

The rest of the All-Star rosters, chosen through a combination of player voting and commissioner’s office selections, will be announced on July 4 at 5:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.



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