Astros show every All-Star journey is unique
MIAMI -- When your team has had a crazy good first half, it's not just one player or two.
Or even six.
As the Astros basked in the warm and friendly glow of a 60-29 first half and 16 1/2-game lead in the American League West, their six All-Stars were thinking of some who weren't here.
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To a man, they mention super utility man Marwin Gonzalez, who hit .308 with 16 home runs and a .967 OPS in the first half.
He threw those numbers on the board despite starting 21 games in left field, 14 at first base, 13 at third base, six at second and five at short. He also came off the bench twice to play right field.
He didn't just play those positions. He played them willingly and at a high level.
"I think Marwin is the MVP of our team in the first half," pitcher Lance McCullers said.
Others mentioned catcher Brian McCann and reliever Will Harris as deserving All-Stars.
OK, there's a limit to what even the best teams are going to get. The Astros do have six in all, including starters Jose Altuve at second base, Carlos Correa at short and George Springer in right field.
Three pitchers also made it: Dallas Keuchel, Chris Devenski and McCullers. Keuchel will not pitch as he recovers from a pinched nerve in his neck.
For each player, the journey to the All-Star Game presented by Mastercard was a little different.
"You have some guys who feel they're destined for these types of things," McCullers said. "For me and for my family, I don't take a day for granted. I have firsthand experience with my father."
His dad, Lance Sr., pitched seven seasons for four different teams, appearing in 306 games in all. Lance Jr. was a first-round Draft pick in 2012, but he understood that the game could be a rollercoaster.
"My dad was a great reliever for a long time, and the game kind of got taken away from him in no time," Lance Jr. said. "For me in my short career to be able to experience the playoffs and be in my first All-Star Game, it's something I'm trying to soak all up. Who knows how many of these things you'll get to play in? I'm blessed to be here."
He said the All-Star experience started to hit him Monday afternoon as he saw familiar faces here, there and everywhere.
"It started to sink in when you're walking around the hotel and the clubhouse and you see guys you grew up idolizing," he said. "To share the same locker, to share the same field, it's going to be pretty cool."
Devenski, 26, was a 26th-round pick by the White Sox in 2011 who was to the Astros a year later.
He flew through the Minor Leagues as he polished a devastating changeup that made his 93-mph fastball look even better.
When the Astros moved him to the bullpen for his Major League debut last season, he emerged as one of baseball's best. He led all American League relievers in innings and strikeouts in the first half and has a 2.35 ERA and 0.89 WHIP in 83 appearances the last two seasons.
"I'm smiling," he said. "I'm surrounded by greatness. This brings up a lot of memories of what I've been through and where I've come from and all the hard work I've put in. It's been a good ride."