ARLINGTON -- It’s been over 10 years since the Rangers had a starter in the MLB All-Star Game.
That last time was in 2012 when Josh Hamilton (LF), Adrián Beltré (3B), and Mike Napoli (C) started for the American League in Kansas City. It was the most starters the club has ever had at a single All-Star Game before this season.
It's no shock that the team enjoying one of the best starts in franchise history would top that, as the results of the 2023 MLB All-Star Ballot were revealed on Thursday night on ESPN. Four Rangers position players landed in the starting lineup: second baseman Marcus Semien, shortstop Corey Seager, third baseman Josh Jung and catcher Jonah Heim.
After coming off back-to-back seasons of 90 or more losses, Heim -- the only starter to have been on the team for all three years -- said it means that much more to show how far the Rangers have come in a short amount of time.
“The last two years obviously didn't go our way, to put it mildly,” Heim said. “This year, we've got off to a great start. There’s still a lot of baseball to be played and I know this team is hungry to go out there each and every day and put some wins up. We've shown that we're a team to be reckoned with. And we're going to be the top dog this year. So it's exciting. I'm super proud to be part of it and hopefully keep it rolling.”
The Rangers' middle-infield superstars of Seager and Semien have lived up to the big-money free-agent deals they signed ahead of the 2022 season.
Seager missed 31 games with a hamstring injury earlier this season, but he solidified his All-Star case by slashing .342/.394/.627 with nine homers and 44 RBIs in 38 games since he came off the IL. Despite having three All-Star Games to his name -- one with the Rangers in 2022 -- this is the first time the shortstop will start in the Midsummer Classic.
“Obviously, the All-Star Game is really cool,” Seager said. “Anybody who gets to go is excited to participate. To be a starter for the first time is exciting. I'm really looking forward to it. It'll be a lot easier and a lot more comfortable [starting alongside his teammates]. I know that for a fact. It'll be really special for all of us.”
This will be the second All-Star Game and second start for Semien, whose first came in 2021 when he was with the Blue Jays. When Seager was on the IL, his middle infield partner carried the Rangers on his back as he played in every single game.
From May 10 to June 6, Semien logged a career-high 25-game hit streak, which was the longest active streak in MLB at the time, while also tying two other Rangers All-Star infielders, Michael Young (2005) and Ian Kinsler (‘08), for the second-longest hit streak in franchise history. He finished three shy of tying the franchise record, set by Gabe Kapler (28 games) in '00.
During the streak, Semien slashed .327/.367/.564 as he drove the Rangers' offense during the stretch.
Though Semien’s Texas tenure got off to a slow start -- he hit just .199 over his first 47 games in 2022 -- he has been one of the best in MLB since those early struggles. From June 1 of last season through the end of his hit streak, Semien slashed .280/.338/.495 with 34 home runs and 116 RBIs.
Jung is the first Rangers rookie to start an All-Star Game since the franchise moved to Texas in 1972. The homegrown star was named the AL Rookie of the Month in both April and May, and finished Thursday slashing .274/.325/.485 with 16 homers on the season.
“It’s crazy,” Jung said. “I'm sure it hasn't really fully hit me yet, but it's definitely really special. When you look back on it, you dream about it, and to do it my first season is truly amazing. ... Making the All-Star Game is great, but it's just one half of the season. Hopefully I just learn from the first half.”
After missing out on the All-Star Game last season following a phenomenal first half, Heim has been even better this season. He leads AL catchers in most major offensive categories, slashing .279/.331/.469, while also handling one of the best rotations in baseball.
Asked if he’s excited thinking about who the AL’s starting pitcher will be, Heim just laughed.
“Everybody that’s there is going to be an ace or an A+ type of pitcher,” Heim said. “But, hopefully I’m catching [Rangers ace Nathan] Eovaldi. It’ll be easy on me.”