Half of the eight position players who take the field for the American League in the All-Star Game later this month will be Royals.
The final votes are in, and four Royals have been elected starters: catcher Salvador Perez; shortstop Alcides Escobar; and outfielders Lorenzo Cain and Alex Gordon.
Gordon and Perez will be All-Stars for the third time, and Perez will start for the second straight year. Last year, Perez started after an injury to the Orioles’ Matt Wieters.
Escobar and Cain are All-Stars for the first time.
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“I’m thinking about the All-Star Game all the time, that’s my dream,” Escobar said. “Right now I got the opportunity and right now I feel so happy. … I can’t explain my emotions right now.”
Escobar will become the first AL shortstop to start besides the New York Yankees’ Derek Jeter, who retired after last season, since 2005.
The last Royals player voted into the starting lineup was outfielder Jermaine Dye in 2000. Before that, it was Bo Jackson in 1989. They never had more than three elected through fan voting.
The other American League starters based on fan voting: Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera; Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve; Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson; and Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout.
Nelson Cruz of the Seattle Mariners was the top-vote getter at designated hitter.
Donaldson was baseball’s top vote-getter with more than 14 million votes. Moustakas received 12.2 million votes, the most by any player who isn’t a starter.
Cabrera’s status is uncertain. He went on the disabled list for a calf strain and is expected to miss six weeks, a stretch that includes the All-Star Game.
The pitchers and reserves will be announced on Monday. More Royals could hear their name called then, like relief pitcher Wade Davis, who lowered his season ERA to 0.25 with a scoreless inning on Monday.
The Royals’ record for players selected to All-Star roster is five, in 1982.
At one point, eight Royals were leading the All-Star voting as Royals fans took advantage of a balloting system that was conducted exclusively online for the first time this year.
Eventually, Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, Omar Infante and Kendrys Morales were overtaken in the voting.
“You look at the guys who overtook our guys and they’re having great years,” said Royals manager Ned Yost, who will be the American League manager. “Our guys are having great years and they’re having great years. I always thought the voting would level out. The guys having the best years would probably win.
“For the most part they got it right.”
Moustakas, Hosmer, Infante and Morales finished second in the voting at their positions.
Baseball received more than 620 million votes, easily the most since fans took over balloting for the starters in 1970.
Yost said he is finalizing the list of pitchers and reserves, which he selects along with major-league players. Yost said he will use statistical analysis and players’ vote.
The four players aren’t the only Royals headed to Cincinnati for the game on July 14. The entire Royals coaching staff will accompany Yost. The team photo will be dominated by Kansas City uniforms.
“We’re going to have a blast,” Yost said. “All-Star Games are always an experience you never forget, and to be able to do it with as many of our teammates there is going to be even more special.”
But the aim is to win and gain home-field advantage in the World Series. The Royals benefited from the American League’s triumph last season, and got to open the World Series and play a seventh game at Kauffman Stadium.
“Playing four games here instead of three games here was huge,” Yost said. “The game is important.”