Tag Archives: MLB All-Star Game

Look back at the Phillies in the MLB All-Star Game during the 2010’s

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On right, Victorino, Polanco, Lee, Hamels repped Phillies in 2011

On Tuesday night, Major League Baseball will celebrate many of it’s top names with the playing of the All-Star Game at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio.

For Phillies fans, this 90th version of the Midsummer Classic will feature just one member of their favorite ball club. That has been the case in most recent years with the team usually in a non-contending position.
However, this second decade of the 21st century did not begin that way. When the decade opened, the Phillies were on top of the National League. The were two-time defending NL champions, had been legitimate contenders for most of the previous decade, and featured a star-studded lineup and pitching staff.
In the 2010 MLB All-Star Game at Angel Stadium of Anaheim, the Phillies had three representatives. First baseman Ryan Howard started and batted in the cleanup spot for the NL squad. Second baseman Chase Utley was voted as the starting NL second baseman for a fifth consecutive year, but sprained his thumb in late June and had to miss the game. Roy Halladay was one of the NL reserve pitchers.
Howard went 0-2 that night, striking out to leadoff the top of the 2nd inning against David Price. Halladay came on to pitch in the bottom of the 6th inning. He surrendered a leadoff single to Derek Jeter, but then got Paul Konerko to roll into a double play. After giving up a base hit to Josh Hamilton, the Phillies righty was lifted by manager Charlie Manuel.
The 2011 MLB All-Star Game was played at Chase Field in Phoenix, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks. For the first time since 2004, no Phillies position players were voted in as starters. However, Halladay was selected to start on the mound for the National League.
After Doc pitched two perfect innings, he was followed to the mound by rotation mate Cliff Lee. The Phillies lefty would retire the first five batters he faced before Adrian Gonzalez homered with two outs in the top of the 4th inning. It would be the only run allowed by NL pitching in a 5-1 victory.
The Phillies had three more All-Stars in 2011, but none got into the game. Those three were pitcher Cole Hamels, third baseman Placido Polanco, and center fielder Shane Victorino.
Interesting note: Also on that 2011 NL All-Star squad were Andrew McCutchenJay Bruce, and Hunter Pence. The latter would be dealt to the Phillies at the end of that month. For Cutch it was the first of five consecutive appearances as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Bruce was enjoying his first of two straight and three overall with the Cincinnati Reds.
By the 2012 MLB All-Star Game, the Phillies fortunes were waning. After winning the NL East Division for five consecutive seasons, the club sat at 37-50 at the All-Star break. That was last place in the division, 14 games out of first. They would make a second-half run to finish at 81-81, finishing in 3rd. For the first time since 2003, no Phillies appeared in the NL starting lineup.
Despite the struggles, that team still placed three players on the team: Hamels, catcher Carlos Ruiz, and new closer Jonathan Papelbon. The NL squad also featured an exciting 19-year-old phenom outfielder named Bryce Harper, who was making his first of a half-dozen all-star appearances over the next seven seasons with Washington.
Ruiz would replace starter Buster Posey behind the plate for the bottom of the 6th inning, given the dubious honor of handling knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. In the top of the 7th, ‘Chooch’ flew out to left against Oakland A’s reliever Ryan Cook in what would be the lone all-star at-bat of his career.
Hamels tossed a perfect 7th inning in that 2012 game. Papelbon retired Orioles catcher Matt Wieters, the only batter he faced, on a fly ball to left field to end an 8-0 National League victory at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.
The Phillies had a pair of NL All-Stars in the 2013 MLB All-Star Game at Citi Field. One was outfielder Domonic Brown, who had gotten red hot for the only stretch of his big-league career, lasting about seven weeks, to earn the nod. The other was Lee, who was greeted, uh, lustily by the New York fans at Citi Field and who responded, uh, stoically.
Brown entered as a replacement in left field for Carlos Gonzalez in the top of the 6th inning and then struck out against Toronto lefty reliever Brett Cecil. Lee pitched the top of the 5th, surrendering a leadoff double to Adam Jones followed by a single by Joe Mauer. After Jones scored on a ground out, Lee got out of the inning by getting 21-year-old Mike Trout to ground into a double play.
Target Field in Minnesota was the site of the 2014 MLB All-Star Game, and the Phillies returned to placing a starter when Chase Utley was voted as the second baseman for the sixth time in his career. He was also the only Phillies all-star that year, the first time since Randy Wolf represented the club back in 2003 that the club had just one player named to the NL squad.
Batting 7th in the lineup, Utley ripped a one-out RBI double off Jon Lester in the top of the 2nd to get the NL on the scoreboard. With two out in the top of the 5th, Utley was hit by a pitch from Chicago White Sox lefty Chris Sale and was lifted for pinch-runner Dee Gordon.
In the 2015 MLB All-Star Game at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, Papelbon was the lone Phillies rep. He did not pitch in the game, and would appear in just five more games for the club before being traded to Washington exactly two weeks to the day after the game.
Petco Park in San Diego hosted the 2016 MLB All-Star Game and outfielder Odubel Herrerawas the lone Phillies representative. He took over in center field in the bottom of the 5th inning, then flew out against Kansas City pitcher Kelvin Herrera in the top of the 6th inning. He was pinch-hit for by Starling Marte in the top of the 8th inning.
The National League hosted for a third straight year when the 2017 MLB All-Star Game was played at Marlins Park in Miami. Reliever Pat Neshek represented the Phillies, then much as Papelbon two years earlier, pitched in five more games for the club before getting traded just over two weeks later.
Which brings us to last year. At Nationals Park, Harper got the start in center field in front of his former home fans after putting on a major show the previous day to win the Home Run Derby. One of the backup catchers was J.T. Realmuto, then with Miami and serving as that lone Phillies rep in tonight’s game.
The lone Phillies player selected for last year’s 2018 MLB All-Star Game was pitcher Aaron Nola. The righty came in for the 5th inning and struck out the first two AL batters that he faced in Salvador Perez and Mookie Betts. After giving up a single to Jose Altuve, Nola got Trout to pop out to first base foul territory to complete a shutout frame.
Howard, Utley, Halladay, Lee, Hamels, Polanco, Victorino, Ruiz, Papelbon, Brown, Herrera, Neshek, Nola. Those 13 players all appeared in the MLB All-Star Game during the decade of the 2010’s for the National League squad as a representative of the Philadelphia Phillies. Realmuto joins the list tonight in Cleveland.

J.T. Realmuto becomes lone Phillies player named to 2019 NL All-Star squad

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Bryce Harper jokes with J.T. Realmuto at 2018 MLB All-Star Game

When general manager Matt Klentak made a big trade back on February 7 of this year to acquire J.T. Realmuto from the Miami Marlins, he knew that the Philadelphia Phillies were gaining one of the most respected catchers in the game.

Klentak paid a big price to acquire the now 28-year-old from Oklahoma. Sent to Miami were the organization’s top pitching prospect, one of the most prized in the game, in right-hander Sixto Sanchez. Also going to the Marlins were catcher Jorge Alfaro and another minor league pitcher.
Realmuto was a big part of the Phillies early-season rise to the top of the NL East Division. Though his offensive production tailed off during what was a difficult month of June for the entire team, his defensive game never wavered.
The Phillies catcher remains one of the top backstops in all of Major League Baseball. This afternoon, that was recognized once again with his selection as a reserve on the National League All-Star team.
This marks a second consecutive NL All-Star nod for Realmuto. Last year as a member of the Marlins he was one of four backstops named to the NL squad. This year, at least as the initial reserves are announced, there will be three.

The starting catcher voted to the squad for a second straight year was Willson Contreras of the Chicago Cubs. Joining Realmuto as a back-up behind the plate will be Yasmani Grandal of the Milwaukee Brewers.
Realmuto entered last year’s game at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. as a defensive replacement for Contreras in the top of the 6th inning. He would make two plate appearances, walking twice and scoring a run during an 8-6 win for the American League.
The Phillies lone All-Star representative a year ago was pitcher Aaron Nola, who would go on to finish third in the NL Cy Young Award voting during a stellar 2018 campaign. Nola threw a scoreless 5th inning, allowing one hit and striking out two batters.
The most likely Phillies to also be considered were probably utility player Scott Kingery and reliever Hector Neris. Leading the Phillies in RBIs, Bryce Harper was an NL All-Star in each of the last four years and in six of his first seven season. Rhys Hoskins was a participant in last year’s Home Run Derby and is the Phillies current leader in home runs. None made the NL squad, at least in the initial announcement. It is possible that injuries and other considerations could still open an opportunity.
Realmuto is arbitration-eligible for one more season. He will become a free agent after the 2020 season if the Phillies do not sign him to a contract extension prior to that time. The 2019 Major League Baseball All-Star Game will take place this year at Progressive Field in Cleveland on Tuesday, July 9.

Rhys Hoskins crashes the Home Run Derby

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Hoskins will try to put on a power show at the 2018 Home Run Derby 

The Major League Baseball All-Star Game will take place on Tuesday night July 17 at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.

That night, most of the very best players from the National and American Leagues will square off in an exhibition to celebrate our National Pastime.

As has been the case for more than three decades now, the night prior to the All-Star Game will feature a Home Run Derby, pitting some of today’s top hitters in what is always a fun and spirited contest.

Earlier this week, MLB announced the eight participants in this year’s event. For the first time in this decade, that contest will include a member of the Philadelphia Phillies.

25-year old left fielder Rhys Hoskins was selected, becoming the first Phillies player to take part since Ryan Howard back in 2009. He also becomes just the fifth Phillies player to participate in this 34th year that the showcase has taken place.

Hoskins has been matched up in the first round with slugging first baseman Jesus Aguilar of the Milwaukee Brewers. Currently tied for the National League leadwith 23 home runs, the 28-year old Aguilar was installed as the top seed in the event.

The winner of the Hoskins-Aguilar duel will take on the winner of a battle between Alex Bregman of the world champion Houston Astros and Kyle Schwarber of the Chicago Cubs. That winner would then advance to the Finals, where they would take on the survivor from a second bracket.

That bracket will have Washington Nationals pending free agent Bryce Harper, who will certainly by a sentimental hometown choice, taking on Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves in one match-up.

The other will find another Cubs player, the exciting Javier Baez, taking on Max Muncy of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who seemed to emerge from nowhere to become a big power threat this season.

Hoskins’ 14 homers place him just 25th in the National League to this point in the season. However, he also missed about 10 days back in early June after breaking his jaw on a fluke swing back on May 29.

He came off the DL hot, blasting eight home runs from June 9 to the end of the month. But Hoskins is right now in the midst of a dry spell. After being held in the yard last night at Citi Field, he has not homered now over his last 11 games.

So, what are the odds that Hoskins can get past the slugging Aguilar, the Bregman-Schwarber winner, and then defeat the winner of the other bracket to become this year’s Home Run Derby champion?

While MLB has him slotted in as the eighth seed, the folks who set the odds for Bovada in Las Vegas are a bit more bullish on his chances. Hoskins is currently rated as the fourth-best choice, tied with Baez, right in the middle of the field.

Harper is the favorite at +300 , which is not at all a surprise. Unfortunately, Hoskins opens with the current second-choice of the oddsmakers, with Aguilar at +375. Schwarber is at +500, followed closely by Hoskins and Baez each at +550. Muncy is at +600, Freeman +650, and Bregman pulls up the rear at +950.

The Home Run Derby dates to the 1985 MLB All-Star festivities. However, the Phillies all-time home run leader and one of the greatest sluggers in baseball history, Mike Schmidt, never participated.

That was despite the fact that Schmidt was an NL All-Star in both 1986 and 1987. He led the NL in long balls in ’86 and was both the NL MVP and Silver Slugger winner at third base that year.

The first Phillies player to participate was Jim Thome in 2004. The Hall of Famer-to-be was knocked out in the first round after slamming just four over the fence at Minute Maid Park in Houston.

The following year, Bobby Abreu fared much better. The Phillies outfielder set a record with 24 first round bombs enroute to 41 total homers. He defeated Miguel Tejada by 11-5 in the 2005 finals at Comerica Parkin Detroit.

It was just one year later that the Phillies got their second Home Run Derby winner. Howard barely survived the first round that year. But ‘The Big Piece’ then exploded for 28 homers over the next two rounds. In the finals, the Phillies rookie edged out David Wright by 5-4 at PNC Parkin Pittsburgh.

Howard and Chase Utley took turns getting knocked out in the first round at the 2007 and 2008 events in succession. In the 2009 appearance at Busch Stadiumin his hometown of Saint Louis, Howard fell just one homer short of reaching the finals.

Matt Bowker at NBC Sports Philadelphia quoted Hoskins after his involvement was announced:
“I think it’s a cool honor, just the fact that I would even be considered…it should be fun. I get to be around a pretty cool group of guys. I grew up watching the Home Run Derby as a kid, so I think that full circle kind of moment is pretty cool.”

Hoskins also revealed that it would be the Phillies minor league infield coordinator, Chris Truby , who “throws money BP“, would pitch to him during the event. Truby played in the big leagues in parts of four seasons from 2000-03, mostly as a third baseman with four different organizations.

Originally appeared at PHILLIES NATION as “Can Rhys Hoskins win the MLB Home Run Derby?

Cody Bellinger hits for The Cycle to continue special rookie season

On Saturday night at Marlins Park in Miami, Los Angeles Dodgers rookie sensation Cody Bellinger put on a record-setting show.
Bellinger went 4-5, scored twice, and knocked in three runs to help pace the torrid, first place Dodgers to a 7-1 thrashing of the host Miami Marlins.
His night began with a single in the top of the first inning. In the top of the third, Bellinger’s 26th home run of the season opened the scoring, putting LA on top 2-0.
In the top of the fourth, Bellinger lined an RBI double to right field that upped the visitors lead to 6-0. Then in the seventh, he made history.
On the first offering from Marlins reliever Nick Wittgren, Bellinger ripped a ball to right that sailed over the head of Giancarlo Stanton. As the ball rolled to the wall, Bellinger raced around the bases, sliding into third easily ahead of the throw.
With that triple, Bellinger became the first rookie in the long and storied history of Dodgers baseball to hit for ‘The Cycle’ with a single, double, triple, and home run all in the same game.
“Every time he steps on the field,” manager Dave Roberts said per Andy McCullough of the LA Times, “something special can happen.”

MAKING THE MOST OF AN OPPORTUNITY

Special things have been happening all season where Bellinger is concerned. He entered the season as the Dodgers top-ranked prospect according to Baseball America.
In their evaluation of Bellinger, BA hung a 70 grade on his defense at first base. As for his hitting: “Bellinger has a chance to be a foundational hitter in the middle of the lineup,” went their summation.
They also opined that “he could make his debut in the second half of the year.” Clearly, Bellinger has accelerated that arrival timetable.
When the season opened, the four-time defending NL West champs didn’t have an opening for him. Veteran Adrian Gonzalez manned first base. The outfield had Andrew TolesJoc Pederson, and Yasiel Puig as starters.
However, as so often happens, injuries opened up a playing opportunity. First, Toles went down for the season after suffering a torn ACL in early May that required surgery. Then AGonz went to the DL in June with a degenerative disc in his back.
By the time that Toles was lost, Bellinger had already hit himself to Los Angeles with a .343/.429/.627 slash line at AAA Oklahoma City in April. He then took over the left field role full-time following that injury to Toles. Since Gonzalez went down, Bellinger has shifted to first base.
His hitting has suffered little at the hands of big league pitching. Through Saturday night, Bellinger has a .271/.349/.639 slash line over his first two months of Major League Baseball. He has 26 home runs, 44 extra-base hits, 61 RBI, 52 runs scored, and even stolen five bases.
Those would be strong numbers for an entire season for most rookies. They would make him a Rookie of the Year candidate almost any year. However, Bellinger has those numbers over just 72 games and 301 plate appearances.

ALL-STAR GAME AND HOME RUN DERBY

Bellinger was selected for the National League team in last week’s MLB All-Star Game. He even participated in the Home Run Derby, falling with no shame to eventual champion Aaron Judge in the semi-finals.
Throwing to Bellinger during that Home Run Derby was his own father. Clay Bellinger appeared in four seasons from 1999-2002 with the New York Yankees. The senior Bellinger was a part of two World Series championship teams in the Bronx.
Clay knew early on that Cody had a special talent for the game. “We knew right away he was going to be pretty good,” he was quoted by McCullough in another LA Times piece. Clay had coached Cody as a kid, including their team that reached the 2007 Little League World Series.
Special talent. That’s what Bellinger has brought to the LA lineup here in 2017. Thanks in no small part to his contributions, an already good Dodgers team has become a powerhouse. If he can continue to rake as he has, he’ll add a Fall Classic to his Midsummer Classic appearance.
Corey Seager won the NL Rookie of the Year Award last season, becoming the 17th Dodgers rookie to capture that honor. The list includes such legends as Hall of Famers Jackie Robinson and Mike Piazza.
Bellinger is sure to become the 18th winner this fall. He and Seager are just beginning what should be a dynamic 1-2 combination in the Dodgers lineup for years to come.

It’s a great time to be Pat Neshek

On November 4, 2016 the Houston Astros shipped veteran relief pitcher Pat Neshek to the Philadelphia Phillies.
The trade was a simple salary dump for Houston. Neshek had a $6.55 million option due on his contract for the 2017 season. The Astros didn’t want to pay that kind of money for a middle reliever. 
They found a willing trade partner in the Phillies, who were desperately searching for short-term bullpen help, and who had plenty of money available to spend.
On the surface, it appeared a step back competitively for Neshek. The Astros were an up-and-coming contender in the American League. The Phillies were a rebuilding doormat in the National League. It looked as if it could be a long summer for the 36-year old veteran.
But you never know what the future will hold. The year 2017 has turned out to be one of the best of Neshek’s baseball life. And here in the month of July, it may only be getting better.
The great year began all the way back in March. While his new Phillies teammates were preparing for the season ahead at spring training in Clearwater, Neshek was representing the USA in the World Baseball Classic.
He would be a key shutdown reliever, a key to the Americans finally capturing the WBC championship. Neshek allowed no runs and four hits, striking out four and allowing just a single walk in five innings over five games.

When the WBC ended, Neshek joined those new Phillies teammates. The reality of his current Major League Baseball situation would quickly reveal itself.

ALL-STAR SEASON IN PHILLY

The Phils would prove even worse than most predicted. Headed into Sunday’s final game before the MLB All-Star break, the Phillies are the worst team in baseball. The team has dropped five straight games, and they are 17-49 since April 27.
The bullpen has been generally awful during this campaign. The Phillies are 11-23 in one-run games, and most of those were blown late by the relief corps.
But Neshek has been the one member of that bullpen to consistently do his job. He has been so good, in fact, that last week he was selected as the lone Phillies all-star representative.
Entering Sunday, Neshek is 2-2 with one Save. He has allowed just 26 hits over 34.1 innings with a 34/5 K:BB ratio. He has outstanding 1.31 ERA and 0.903 WHIP marks as well.
It will be the second All-Star Game appearance for Neshek. He was also selected to the 2014 NL squad while with the Saint Louis Cardinals.
“You don’t think of yourself as one of the best players, or at least I don’t look at myself that way,” said Neshek per Philly.com’s Matt Breen. “But if you get the opportunity, you never know if you’re on that stage. So I took that into the season. I said, ‘Hey, I got some big guys out in the World Baseball Classic. I’ve done it before. I’m going to go at this hard again.’ You never know what’s going to happen.”
Neshek and his family will make their way to Miami for the All-Star Game festivities following Sunday afternoon’s game. They will enjoy a wonderful three-day experience in south Florida before returning to the reality of the Phillies lost season at the end of the week.

TRADE RUMORS TO HEAT UP

Even then, Neshek could be getting ready to see his outstanding personal 2017 season continue. He is one of the Phillies prime pieces of trade bait as the MLB trade deadline approaches at the end of July.
As we get deeper and deeper into the month of July, especially should he continue to stay healthy and perform at a high level, Neshek’s name will be involved in constant trade rumors.
It will be a mild upset if Neshek is still with the Phillies come August. The more likely scenario is that he will have been traded away to some contending team. Maybe back to Houston, or off to Boston or Texas in the American League. Maybe to Washington in the NL, where the Nationals bullpen has been a constant source of frustration to a genuine World Series contender.
It’s a great time to be Pat Neshek. He is on quite a roll here in 2017 thus far. If his luck continues, he should find himself pitching with a contender before it’s all over. Hopefully for the Phillies, he can return a bit of longer term value as well.