Meet Your (Future) Royals All Stars
Can we get an All Star Game do-over?
The 2012 Midsummer Classic, hosted by the Royals in Kansas City, was by nearly every measure a smashing success. But there was only one problem.
It came a year or two too early.
Forget the fact that 2013 would have been the 40-year anniversary of the last All Star. No, as much as that would have made sense, the real problem is that the Royals young stars were just a little too young in 2012.
Alex Gordon scuffled. Eric Hosmer flopped. Salvador Perez got hurt. Alcides Escobar and Mike Moustakas weren’t on the nation’s radar.
Those guys could, and should, all be All Stars sooner than later. But it wasn’t in the cards in 2012.
Based on entirely unscientific research, it’s my guess that Salvador Perez will be the first Royal selected by the fans to an All Star roster in years.
His competition will be stiff. There are currently five excellent catchers in the AL under the age of 30 who will vie for the spot for years – Detroit’s Alex Avila (25), Baltimore’s Matt Wieters (26), Toronto’s J.P. Arencibia, Boston’s Jarrod Saltalamacchia (27), and Minnesota’s Joe Mauer (29). And MLB.com’s top two catching prospects – Travis d’Arnaud, and Gary Sanchez – belong to the Blue Jays and Yankees, respectively.
But Perez’ infectious smile, boundless energy and natural leadership should make him a fan favorite beyond Kansas City. And his offense has thus far matched his widely respected defensive abilities. He has as good a chance as any Royal to be elected by the fans.
Mauer will always be a fan favorite, but he’s been on a steady decline, and might not stay behind the plate much longer. Perez’ bat has, thus far, been Mauer-like. If he can continue to hit, he’ll be the best of the bunch.
Moustakas may turn out to be as popular as Perez. The cheers of “Moose!” are already starting to spring up in parks around the league. His defense has been light years better than what was expected – he’s making highlight-reel plays on a regular basis. And chicks will dig the long balls he belts as much as guys will dig his blue collar-zeal for the game.
But third base won’t be an easy spot to get voted in. Even if Detroit’s 29-year-old Miguel Cabrera isn’t long for third base, two very popular players will be in the way – Tampa’s Evan Longoria (26) and Toronto’s Brett Lawrie (22). Another problem could be Texas prospect Mike Olt.
Hosmer will be plenty popular if he gets his approach at the plate straightened out. He might still turn out to be the best of the Royals’ youth movement.
But first base is always a tough place to get elected to the game. The Yankees and Red Sox will always go out and buy the best hitter available at this spot.
At this point, just one man under the age of 30 stands in his way. But Detroit’s Prince Fielder (28) just happens to be as immensely popular as he is talented.
I think Escobar might have been the league’s best shortstop in the first half of 2012. But Cleveland’s 26-year-old Asdrubal Cabrera is fantastic, and Texas’ Elvis Andrus (23) isn’t far behind. Looming on the horizon are prospects Manny Machado (Baltimore) and Jurickson Profar (Texas).
All four of these Royals should make multiple appearances in the All Star Game. Getting a start in one may be another matter, however. For the next several years, we’ll still be watching the old guard – Derek Jeter, Albert Pujols, David Ortiz. Then the small-market Royals stars will have to contend with those mentioned above.
My money is on Perez to make the first start, but I’m not going to hold my breath.
Can we get the All Star Game to come back in, say, 2016?