Blue Jays first baseman Smoak AL starter
NEW YORK — Once again, a late push of online votes from Canadians has made one of the Toronto Blue Jays a starter for Major League Baseball’s American League allstar team.
Blue Jays first baseman Justin Smoak was among 12 first-time starters elected Sunday for the allstar game at Miami on July 11, the most since voting was returned to fans in 1970.
Smoak bounced back to beat KC’s Eric Hosmer by 555,000.
Smoak has 22 home runs and is hitting .303 — both career highs — so far this season for Toronto. He stepped into the starting first baseman role for the Blue Jays after former all-star Edwin Encarnacion signed with the Cleveland Indians as a free agent in the off-season. Aaron Judge, Carlos Correa and Nolan Arenado are also first-timers. In a sign of the generational change, the all-stars with the most selections are Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw with eight and St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina with seven. Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera, the senior all-star last year with 11 selections, wasn’t picked for the first time since 2009. Two of the first-time starters are from the Houston Astros, who have the best record in the major leagues: Correa, the shortstop drafted first overall in 2012, and outfielder George Springer. Second baseman Jose Altuve was elected to his third start.
Houston pitchers Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers Jr. were picked, as well, giving the Astros five All-Stars, tied for the most with the New York Yankees, Cleveland and Washington. Keuchel is hurt and won’t pitch.
Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper, second baseman Daniel Murphy and first baseman Ryan Zimmerman were elected to start, and Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg were selected for the pitching staff. Harper led fan voting with 4.63 million ballots.
Judge, the six-seven rookie who leads the major leagues with 27 home runs, topped the AL with 4.49 million votes. He is joined in the outfield by Springer and Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout, who hopes to return in time from a torn thumb ligament.
Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez overtook Minnesota’s Miguel Sano in the final days of balloting to win the AL third base spot, and Tampa Bay’s Corey Dickerson rallied to win at DH. The Royals’ Salvador Perez won at catcher.
Arenado overtook the Cubs’ Kris Bryant, last year’s NL MVP, to win at third. Arenado will be joined in the NL lineup by Cincinnati shortstop Zack Cozart, Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon, Miami outfielder Marcell Ozuna and San Francisco catcher Buster Posey.
Catcher Gary Sanchez, injured second baseman Starlin Castro and pitchers Dellin Betances and Luis Severino also were picked from the Yankees. Cleveland is sending pitchers Corey Kluber and Andrew Miller, shortstop Francisco Lindor and outfielder Michael Brantley.
Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton was picked as a reserve and plans to defend his home-run derby title. L.A. Dodgers rookie Cody Bellinger, who leads the NL with 24 homers, said he will participate.
Toronto Blue Jays’ Justin Smoak, pictured, beat Kansas City’s Eric Hosmer by 555,000 votes in the first-base battle.