Votto, Bruce, Chapman named NL All-Stars
Reds first baseman voted to start Midsummer Classic
SAN FRANCISCO -- His numbers, performances and an MVP award over the past few seasons have already dictated that Reds first baseman Joey Votto is worthy of being a superstar in baseball. Now the fans have spoken as well and endorsed it to be so, too.
Votto was a runaway winner of the fan vote among National League first basemen and will make his first start in the 83rd Major League All-Star game in Kansas City on July 10. He will be joined by two teammates in outfielder Jay Bruce and closer Aroldis Chapman.
"It means a tremendous amount to me," Votto said. "A player like myself who tends to stay under the radar for the most part, plays in Cincinnati, which is not one of the larger markets, to have garnered so many votes is really a tremendous accomplishment I definitely appreciate."
The 83rd Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. Pregame ceremonies begin at 7:30 p.m. ET. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Game coverage.
Fans will also have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevrolet via the 2012 MLB.com All-Star Game MVP Vote during the All-Star Game on MLB.com.
Votto received 7,343,110 votes via fan balloting, which bested the Giants' Brandon Belt by nearly 4 million votes. Votto entered the final week of balloting with the most votes in all of the NL, but was overtaken by Giants catcher Buster Posey. Posey had trailed Votto by 1.1 million votes but beat out Votto by 278,000 votes.
This will be Votto's third straight All-Star Game, but his vote total indicates how much his profile has elevated since 2010, when he was initially snubbed and made the NL team via the MLB.com Final Vote.
A Reds player hasn't been elected to start an All-Star Game since Ken Griffey Jr. in 2007.
During the offseason, the two first basemen that often overshadowed Votto -- Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder -- defected to the American League. But Votto's selection was no process of elimination; it came through some very strong numbers.
Entering Sunday, the 28-year-old Votto was batting .350 with 13 home runs and 47 RBIs this season. His 33 doubles and .471 on-base percentage lead the Majors and his 60 walks are tops in the NL. In June alone, Votto batted .392 and finished it with an NL-best 38 hits, 10 doubles and 20 runs.
"Joey has really earned everything he's gotten and deserves it. He's a great guy to play beside and watch every day," Bruce said.
Selected via the players' vote, there is no doubt that the 24-year-old Chapman's first All-Star selection will resonate, as he's been in the spotlight since defecting from Cuba. Plucked by the Reds with a blockbuster six-year, $30.25 million contract in January 2010, Chapman's triple-digit velocity has captivated fans and frustrated hitters.
"First of all, I'm really happy and surprised," Chapman said via his translator. "I'm proud that only two years into [my career] and between so many good pitchers in the league, I'm being selected to go to the All-Star Game."
This season, Chapman was used again as a reliever after injuries in Cincinnati's bullpen thwarted plans to use him in the rotation.
Although currently mired in a rough patch that has him entering Sunday with a 4-4 record and 1.98 ERA, the left-handed Chapman began his 2012 season sensationally. It started with zero earned runs allowed over his first 24 appearances, stretching 29 innings. He has struck out at least one batter in 31 of his 32 games and averages 15.9 strikeouts per nine innings.
Chapman is 0-4 with a 9.82 ERA and two blown saves in his last eight appearances, but that did not dissuade the players that voted him in.
"It probably had everything to do with that [start to the season]," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "You take away the one bad week -- are you going to chastise him for that one week? There are guys on the All-Star team that had a bad month."
Bruce was selected by NL manager Tony La Russa to play in his second All-Star Game after he made it in 2011. Bruce entered Sunday batting .257 but his 17 home runs were ranked fourth in the league and his 57 RBIs put him fifth on the leaderboard.
"I was hopeful, but I don't ever count my chickens before they hatch," Bruce said. "I knew I had done plenty in the production department. It was whether they thought it was a well-rounded enough line in the season for me, and they do."
For the week that ended April 29, Bruce batted .476 with four homers and 10 RBIs to be named NL Player of the Week.
"It's obviously a huge honor for me," Bruce said. "Being a coaches' selection is something I am very proud of. I'm excited to go back. It's going to be a lot of fun. Being an All-Star is a huge deal for me. It's a big deal for me. It's a fun part of the year, for sure."
Dulling some of the excitement in the Reds clubhouse were two All-Star snubs. Rotation ace Johnny Cueto was denied his first selection and second baseman Brandon Phillips was hoping to go to his third Midsummer Classic.
"It's kind of difficult to be overly happy today considering the two guys that I thought were shoo-ins aren't going to be on the team," Votto said. "That's frustrating. I knew a long time ago that I was going to be an All-Star. I was really hoping for those two guys and all five of us to go to Kansas City."