ATLANTA -- They might need to get a bigger plane to transport the franchise-record eight Braves who will travel to Seattle for next week’s All-Star Game.
These five players will join Atlanta teammates Ronald Acuña Jr., Sean Murphy and Orlando Arcia, who were all elected by fans to be in the National League’s starting lineup at this year’s Midsummer Classic.
The Braves never previously had more than seven All-Stars in one season. The most recent occurrence had been in 2003, when Andruw Jones, Javy Lopez and John Smoltz headlined Atlanta’s representatives.
“That was probably the best (All-Star selection reveal) I’ve been a part of and I’ve been part of some cool things,” Snitker said. “To have eight guys is really something special for the organization.”
The entire Braves infield will be part of the NL roster when the All-Star Game is played on July 11 at T-Mobile Park.
“[Infield guru and Braves third base coach Ron Washington] said this is probably the most emotional day of his career because all of his infielders are going to the All-Star Game,” Albies said. “It’s very special for our team to have eight guys. That says a lot.”
The Braves will account for 25 percent of the NL’s 32-man roster. Acuña and Riley were among the six players who represented the Braves at last year’s All-Star Game. They are the only members of that group who will be representing Atlanta again this year.
This year’s Braves selections create some interesting storylines.
Elder began the season as Triple-A Gwinnett’s Opening Day starter and is now a first-time All-Star. He will carry an NL-best 2.44 ERA into Monday night’s start in Cleveland. The incredible success he has had with Max Fried and Kyle Wright both being on the injured list most of this year, serves as a significant reason the Braves own the NL’s best record.
“Spencer is striking a lot of guys out, I’m not striking a lot of guys out,” Elder said. "Guys are putting the ball in play and the guys behind me, I wouldn’t be in this situation if it wasn’t for them. I thank (catchers Travis d’Arnaud and Murphy) for how committed they are to helping us. I just am really thankful for the people around me that have allowed me to have this success.”
Strider established himself as one of the game’s most exciting pitchers after joining the Braves’ rotation two months into the 2022 season. He hit a couple rough spots in June, but still easily leads the Majors in strikeouts.
The selections of Strider and Elder further highlight how incredible the Braves’ 2020 MLB Draft was. They were taken in the fourth and fifth rounds of that Draft, which included just five rounds because of COVID. Atlanta had just four selections that year. But Strider, Elder and first-round pick Jared Shuster have all been part of their rotation this year.
Now two of those guys are All-Stars.
Olson has gained even greater comfort as he has experienced his second year playing for his hometown team. An incredible June positioned him for a second All-Star selection. He leads the NL in both home runs and RBIs. His success has silenced some of the concerns created when Freddie Freeman wasn’t re-signed after the 2021 season.
Like Olson has provided great value while replacing Freeman, Arcia has certainly silenced those who didn’t view him as a suitable replacement for Dansby Swanson. Swanson is also an All-Star this year. But he’s making nearly $11 million more than Arcia this year and closer to $21 million more both of the next two seasons.
Riley didn’t have to wait like last year, when he gained an All-Star selection as an injury replacement. The third baseman hasn’t produced MVP-caliber numbers like he did both of the past two years. But he is just shy of being on pace for what would be a third straight 30-homer season.
Albies has bounced back from last year’s injury-marred season to gain his third career All-Star selection. The 26 year-old second baseman entered Sunday having produced a .962 OPS over his past 24 games. He homered on Sunday to achieve his fourth 20-homer season.
“To have your entire infield make the All-Star Game, I wish I was managing so that I could make sure all those guys played together,” Snitker said.