Paul Konerko and Shane Victorino went wire-to-wire in winning the All-Star Game Final Vote and will be the 34th men on their respective teams next week.
With no Yankees nor Red Sox making the cut, Konerko’s path to claiming the AL opening was clear. He held off Victor Martinez, Alex Gordon, Adam Jones and Ben Zobrist for the much-deserved nod. Konerko ranks fourth in the AL with 22 homers and 64 RBI and sixth with a .319 average.
Victorino also looked like the right choice, if only because the NL couldn’t even put fellow center fielder Andrew McCutchen on the ballot. Victorino, who also won the final vote in 2009, beat out Andre Ethier, Todd Helton, Michael Morse and Ian Kennedy.
Unfortunately, Victorino is currently sidelined with a sprained right thumb that could keep him out of next week’s contest. But maybe that just means McCutchen will take his spot. The NL squad had just one legitimate center fielder in Matt Kemp before Victorino was added, so it’s make more sense to replace him with another center fielder than with Ethier.
7:25 p.m. EDT update: A cool note from MLB.com’s Scott Merkin:
Konerko was to get $15,000 bonus for making the All-Star team. As a thank you for the fan vote, he’s donating it to White Sox Charities
The Cubs wrapped up a four-game series against the Reds at Wrigley Field on Thursday afternoon, suffering a 13-10 loss to split the set. They’ll match up again against the Reds next week for a three-game series in Cincinnati. That’s good news for Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, because that means he’ll get to see Reds first baseman Joey Votto some more.
As CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports, Bryant has grown quite fond of Votto. Bryant has already won a World Series ring, a Rookie of the Year Award, and an MVP Award, but he still looks up to Votto. According to Bryant, Votto is “the best player ever.” He added, ““He’s my favorite player. I love watching him. I love talking to him, just picking his brain. He gets a lot of (heat) about his walks and working at-bats and some people want him to swing at more pitches. But, gosh, I mean, he does an unbelievable job. You know that he’s going to give you a great at-bat every time he goes up there. It’s definitely a guy that I look up to and I can learn from.”
Bryant said that Votto is “a future Hall of Famer, that’s for sure.”
Bryant also explained how his approach changed by watching Votto. He said that in his rookie season, he was “swinging at everything.” Votto, however, is “aggressive, but he’s not going to swing at a pitch until he wants it.”
Indeed, in Bryant’s rookie season, he struck out in nearly 31 percent of his 650 plate appearances. This season, he has struck out in only 19 percent of his PA. His walk rate has also increased by more than 2.5 percent since his rookie campaign. Compared to last year, Bryant is down in HR and RBI, but his average is the same, his on-base percentage is markedly better, and his slugging percentage is only down by a minute amount.
Diamondbacks second baseman Daniel Descalso hit his team’s third inside-the-park home run of the season during Thursday’s 4-0 win over the Astros. In the top of the fourth inning, with the score 1-0 and the bases empty, Descalso ripped a 1-0, 83 MPH change-up to right-center field. The ball caromed off the wall, heading towards left field, which sent center Jake Marisnick on the chase. Marisnick tried to pick up the ball with his glove, but dropped it, which sealed Descalso’s destiny for an inside-the-parker.
It had only been five days since the Diamondbacks’ last inside-the-park home run. David Peralta hit one against the Cubs on August 12. Ketel Marte legged out his club’s first ITPHR on July 26 against the Braves.
As ESPN Stats & Info notes, the Diamondbacks have three as a team, which is amazing because the other 29 teams have hit seven combined.