A year ago, the Royals sent a record-seven players to the All-Star Game. But first baseman Eric Hosmer was not among them, so in the days after the American League team was official, manager Ned Yost sought out Hosmer, hoping to deliver a brief message.
“You’re going to get your All-Star appearances,” Yost told Hosmer. “You’re just too good not to.”
It took just one more year. On Tuesday night, as the rosters were revealed in a television selection show, Hosmer officially became an All-Star for the first time, winning the fan vote at first base for the American League. As baseball’s biggest stars prepare to convene on San Diego next week, Hosmer will be joined by three other Royals on the AL roster. Catcher Salvador Perez was baseball’s leading vote-getter for the first time and will make his fourth straight All-Star appearance. Relievers Wade Davis and Kelvin Herrera were also selected for the AL team. Davis, who went on the disabled list on Tuesday with a forearm strain, said he would forgo a trip to San Diego, opting to stay home in Kansas City and receive treatment from the team’s medical staff.
“Obviously,” Davis said, “I’d love to go.”
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Hosmer, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2008 draft, is in the midst of his best individual season. He entered Tuesdaybatting .303 with a .361 on-base percentage and 13 home runs. He is on pace for career highs in RBIs and doubles. For three straight years, he has won the Gold Glove Award, selected as the best defensive first baseman in the American League. Now he can add an All-Star appearance to his 2015 World Series ring.
“It’s really exciting,” Hosmer said. “It’s just a tremendous honor to be recognized by the fans, not only in Kansas City, but throughout the world. And just looking at the roster and going over all the players, it’s an honor to share the same locker room as them and be honored as an All-Star.”
His manager echoed the feeling.
“Being an All-Star, you’re the best of the best,” Yost said. “And you’ll forever be known as an All-Star, and last year, it was tough.”
A season ago, as the American League manager, Yost had an opportunity to select one Royals player for the final vote. The decision came down to the wire, but Yost ultimately selected Mike Moustakas, who won the final vote and headed to his first All-Star Game. And yet, the decision was agonizing. It pained Yost not to be able to take Hosmer.
“I was going to do everything I could do to get him on this team, anyway,” Yost said on Tuesday. “But I didn’t need to. He won the fan vote. He finished at the top or near the top in the player voting.”
On late Tuesday afternoon, Yost gathered his team inside the visitors clubhouse here in Toronto and unveiled the club’s All-Stars. Perez has become a mainstay in the event and dominated the voting at catcher after a sterling first half. Davis was a near lock after three dominant seasons in the bullpen. But for the second straight season, Yost used one of his manager’s picks on Herrera, who has posted a 1.40 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 38 2/3 innings.
The American League roster will also feature multiple relievers from the New York Yankees (Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller) and Baltimore Orioles (Zach Britton and Brad Brach).
“They’ve both been All-Star quality pitchers,” Yost said of Davis and Herrera. “We’re doing the same thing with New York. We’re taking Miller and Betances. We’re doing the same thing with Baltimore. We’re taking Britton and Brach. The top-quality setup guys are really, really valuable.”
Also valuable: A franchise catcher who will appear in his fourth All-Star Game at the age of 26. Perez entered Tuesday batting .277 with 12 homers and 15 doubles. He is throwing out more than 50 percent of would-be base stealers.
By the end of the voting, Perez had received 4,965,838 votes, the most among all major league players. He became the second Royals player to lead the majors in All-Star voting, joining Hall of Famer George Brett in 1981.
“Thank you to the fans,” Perez said. “Thank you to the people who voted for me. I’m think it’s exciting to see a lot of people like what you do.”