Shortstop leading vote-getter on players' ballot while outfielder a Bochy pick
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers expected second-year shortstop Jean Segura to hit, but not to hit this well, this soon. As a result of his sudden breakthrough, the 23-year-old is going to the All-Star Game.
The Mets, Twins and Brewers all expected Carlos Gomez to hit, from the day he debuted as a 21-year-old five-tool talent in New York through the inconsistent years that followed. As a result of his long-awaited breakthrough, Gomez is going to the All-Star Game, too.
Both Brewers made the National League All-Star team as reserves; Segura was the leading vote-getter among shortstops on the players' ballot, and Gomez as a selection of NL manager Bruce Bochy. Segura is only the fourth shortstop in Brewers history to make the Midsummer Classic, and Gomez is the Brewers' first true center fielder to make it since Davey May in 1973.
They learned of their All-Star status in a 4:45 p.m. CT team meeting at Miller Park, about 45 minutes before the rosters were announced on FOX.
"It was a special moment," Segura said. "I was so happy. At my age, not that many people do what I do right now. I feel pretty good, you know?"
Gomez is only four years older, but had to wait much longer.
"This is six years of work," he said. "I've had coaches to help me and believe in my ability. It's all about when people push for you and believe you are a good player and you can help the team to win. I feel really, really good."
He felt especially good that the July 16 All-Star Game is being hosted in New York by the Mets, for whom Gomez made his big league debut, and that he will make the trip with a fellow Dominican, Segura, whom Gomez called "a good kid" deserving of being the Brewers' youngest All-Star since Prince Fielder was the same age (23) in 2007.
Segura's statistical achievements made him a shoo-in. He entered Saturday as only player in the Majors with at least 10 home runs and 25 stolen bases, was the NL leader with 109 hits, ranked second with 26 stolen bases, was tied for second with eight triples and tied for fourth with 31 multihit games, and ranked fifth in the league with a .322 batting average.
"He's been incredible. He's been one of the best players in baseball in all facets of the game," said left fielder Ryan Braun, who will not go to the All-Star Game for the first time since 2007, when Braun was only one full month into his big league career.
The centerpiece of a three-player package acquired from the Angels for Zack Greinke last July, Segura played the final two months of 2012 in Milwaukee, won the Dominican Winter League batting title during the offseason and then charged into his first full season in the big leagues.
"I was thinking about [the All-Star Game] a little bit, but I just went out there, played my game and didn't think about this too much," Segura said. "If I made it, all right, and if not, [fine]. But now I made it, and I feel pretty good."
There was unanimous consent Saturday in the Brewers' clubhouse that Segura has exceeded expectations.
But how did he do it?
"Contact," said second baseman Rickie Weeks, Segura's double-play partner. "The type of stance he has and his swing, and his speed, obviously, if he just puts the ball in play he has a good chance to get a hit."
Said manager Ron Roenicke: "Whether it was something in winter ball that he got confident in, I don't know, but he led winter ball in hitting and he brought it right into Spring Training."
It was significant that Segura was the leading shortstop on the players' ballot. Troy Tulowitzki, the NL starter by virtue of the fan ballot, is coming back from a rib injury, and if he cannot start, Segura would get the nod by rule. He would be the first Brewers shortstop to start an All-Star Game since Robin Yount in 1983, when Yount was the reigning American League MVP.
For Gomez, the All-Star nod has been a long time coming. Long an underachiever, he began to put it together in 2012, setting career highs with a .260 batting average, 19 home runs and 37 stolen bases. The Brewers rewarded him with a three-year contract extension during Spring Training, and Gomez rewarded that vote of confidence by batting .319 with a team-best 13 home runs and 41 RBIs through Friday.
He entered Saturday leading the Majors with nine triples, third in the NL with a .572 slugging percentage and 42 extra-base hits, and fifth with 174 total bases and a .919 OPS. He led baseball with 5.4 WAR (wins above replacement) according to Baseball-Reference.com's measure, and led the NL with 4.8 WAR on FanGraphs.com.
That output has exceeded expectations as well, according to Roenicke.
"No doubt about it," Roenicke said. "Same thing [as Segura] -- whatever happened in that last month last year, he figured out this is who he wants to be, and it works. Instead of this guy who is going to feel for it and hit line drives the other way, he's going to be aggressive, he's going to swing hard and he's going to try not to chase pitches. It's really worked for him."
Through Thursday, be sure to return to MLB.com and cast your 2013 All-Star Game Final Vote Sponsored by freecreditscore.com for the final player for each League's All-Star roster.
And the voting doesn't end there. The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again have fans participating in the official voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com via the 2013 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote, and their voice will represent 20 percent of the official vote determining the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
The 2013 All-Star Game will be played at Citi Field on Tuesday, July 16. Come to MLB.com for extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.
The 84th 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. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM also will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.
"Sometimes, I can't believe I made the All-Star Game," Segura said. "Some great players. It's amazing."