Darvish, Beltre make up Rangers’ smallest All-Star delegation since 2007
07/06/2014 6:34 PM
11/12/2014 6:38 PM
The fans didn’t speak for Adrian Beltre — at least not as loudly as they did for other third basemen — but American League players spoke up for the Texas Rangers’ best player.
And their best pitcher, too.
Beltre and right-hander Yu Darvish were selected Sunday via player balloting to play in the All-Star Game, giving the Rangers their fewest All-Stars since Michael Young was a one-man show in 2007.
The 85th Midsummer Classic is scheduled for July 15 at Target Field in Minneapolis.
It would have been difficult to explain omitting either player, but Beltre especially after what he has done the past two months with his Rangers teammates dropping around him or struggling at the plate.
“He deserves to be on the All-Star team,” manager Ron Washington said. “I think this is his finest year. He’s the one constant we’ve had through all the adversity, and it’s got to be tough on him to grind it out every day and do what he has.”
Beltre is an All-Star for the fourth time, all in the past five years and in three of his four seasons with the Rangers, and has been the best offensive third baseman in the game for the past two months.
His .333 average leads all major league third basemen, and he is hitting more than 100 points better than AL starter Josh Donaldson of Oakland since May 1 with one fewer homer (Donaldson’s 12 to Beltre’s 11).
Beltre has performed consistently — especially since May 1 — despite seeing the Rangers’ injury list grow and grow. He batted .392 in June even though the batter behind him slumped over the last half of the month.
“It’s not tough. I’m getting paid for that,” Beltre said. “You’d hope it would be a different case for what we’ve been through, but my mindset is to be ready for every ballgame every day. It doesn’t matter who’s around me and who’s not. I’ve got to do my job every day.”
Darvish has been an All-Star in each of his first three seasons, joining Jonathan Papelbon as the only other AL pitcher to accomplish that, but is seeking his first appearance in the Midsummer Classic.
It could come this year after the decision to bump him back a day last week at Baltimore also bumped him from the first-half finale and will have him well-rested if AL manager John Farrell needs him.
“I won’t know until the manager says something, but I’m OK to pitch,” Darvish said. “I’m very honored and excited to be playing in the All-Star Game. ... I’m kind of surprised. There are so many great pitchers, and I haven’t had very many outings that I’m satisfied with. I think people still have the image of me from last year.”
Darvish is 8-4 with a 2.63 ERA in 16 starts. He entered Sunday as the league leader in strikeouts per nine innings (11.031), fourth in strikeouts (134), sixth in ERA (2.63) and seventh in opponents’ average (.224) in addition to being in the top 10 in several advanced metrics.
He’s a different pitcher — and a better pitcher — than he has been the past two seasons primarily because he is more committed to commanding his fastball.
“I really think he’s throwing the ball well,” Washington said. “He looks more relaxed. He has a good grasp now of what he has to do. He has learned the league a lot better.”
The league knows him and Beltre well enough to vote them to the All-Star Game. It’s no surprise, particularly with Beltre’s high-level performances despite all the adversity around him.
“That’s why around the game he’s known as a true professional,” Washington said. “Through it all, he still performs, and that’s where you want all your players to get in your career.”
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