Betts, Taylor and Muncy to All-Star Game

July 4th, 2021

WASHINGTON -- The Dodgers didn’t have any All-Star starters, but they’ll be well-represented at this year’s Midsummer Classic as , and were selected as reserves for the National League.

Muncy, now a two-time All-Star, has had the best first half of any Dodgers hitter, leading the team with 18 homers and a .969 OPS. The 30-year-old also leads the Majors with 55 walks and a .416 on-base percentage.

While Muncy was beaten out by Freddie Freeman to be the starting first baseman in the All-Star Game, the Dodgers’ first baseman will likely still make his way into the NL’s starting lineup. Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts, who will manage the NL, makes the lineup card and said it would be a “no-brainer” to have Muncy start as the designated hitter.

“That would be pretty incredible,” Muncy said. “That would be really, really exciting.”

Muncy said that he is still unsure if he would participate in the Home Run Derby. He has been dealing with a minor ankle and oblique injury, and could benefit from not taking a high number of swings during the All-Star break.

Of the three Dodgers’ All-Star representatives, Taylor will be the only one experiencing it for the first time. Roberts has been singing Taylor’s praises over the last few weeks, advocating for his utility man to make the All-Star team. He did, and it’s hard to argue with what Taylor has done for the Dodgers this season.

“There’s no way to quantify it,” Roberts said regarding Taylor’s value. “But in this particular case, for Major League Baseball and the committee to recognize what he does and the value of his versatility -- whether it’s the WAR, the production in the box, whatever it is -- all I know is that I said it about a month ago, 'He’s a Major League All-Star in 2021.' And I’m glad this is the way it played out. Couldn’t be happier for him.”

Taylor entered Sunday’s game with a 2.3 fWAR, and makes a good argument as the most invaluable Los Angeles player of the first half. He has played five different positions for the Dodgers this season, and was the main replacement for Cody Bellinger in center field as the slugger missed over two months with various injuries.

“It’s a dream come true,” Taylor said. “When you’re a little kid playing in the backyard, you always dream of being a big league All-Star and you watch that All-Star Game every year and you hope to be there someday. It’s definitely going to be a surreal experience and I’m looking forward to taking it all in.”

The one surprise from the Dodgers’ selections was that Betts was voted in as a reserve. Betts is one of the best players in baseball, but hasn’t produced quite at the clip he’s accustomed to this year. Though he isn’t producing at an MVP-caliber level, Betts is still putting together a solid season, entering Sunday’s game with a 2.7 bWAR, which is the second-highest on the team behind Muncy’s 4.0.

“He’s not at his best, and he’ll be the first to tell you that,” Roberts said. “But the beautiful thing about it is that it’s a game about the fans and a game about the players, so I’m very happy for Mookie.”

While the Dodgers will have three representatives, which is currently tied for the second-most for any team in the NL, Roberts hopes to see more of his players get added at some point before the game. Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen have all put together a worthy first half, with Buehler leading the starters in ERA and Jansen locking down 21 saves with a 1.30 ERA.

“I’m trying to not get too emotional yet,” Roberts said. “With what Clayton has done, he deserves it. With what Walker has done, he deserves it. And with what Kenley has done -- I don’t think there’s a better closer in the game, and he deserves it."

Justin Turner can also make a case. Turner is leading qualifying third basemen with a .872 OPS and was the runner-up in the starters vote behind Cardinals third baseman Nolan Arenado. Whatever happens, the Dodgers will have plenty of representation in Denver.