MIAMI -- When the Phillies began their busy offseason, they coveted All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto in building a postseason hopeful club.
Five months later, Realmuto will be the Phillies' lone representative at this year's Midsummer Classic. Realmuto, part of a four-player trade with the Marlins in February, appeared in the All-Star Game for the first time last year.
"It's pretty special for me, for sure," said Realmuto, who went 2-for-3 in Sunday's 13-6 win over his former club. "Being in it last year was definitely a dream come true, and being able to go again should be a lot of fun and a great experience for me and my family."
The 28-year-old has compiled a .265/.319/.431 slash line in his fifth full big league season, and he entered Sunday tied for second with the Cubs' Willson Contreras in WAR (2.5) among qualified National League backstops, according to FanGraphs.
Realmuto also ranked second in the NL with nine Defensive Runs Saved among catchers, and he has thrown out a Major League-leading 47 percent of attempted basestealers. He is also on pace to set a franchise record for games played by a catcher. He has played in 79 games this season, including 70 starts behind the dish.
"I think he's been an emotional catalyst for us," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. "He's been, if not the best defensive catcher in baseball, then I don't know who would be a better choice for best defensive catcher in baseball. His at-bats have continually gotten better, and I think he's a rock for us. He's somebody that we all lean on and look to to inspire the group. I think he's been spectacular for us.
"I think he's very well-respected around the league, and I think, in part, it's because he's so physically and mentally dependable. He wants to play every single day. There's not many catchers who you think could possibly play 150 games. He's one of those guys. So it's not just his level of play, it's not just what he brings to the clubhouse on a daily basis, it's also that he does it on a daily basis like any other everyday player."
Six-time All-Star Bryce Harper's streak ended at four straight selections in his first season with the Phillies. Harper, who also missed the All-Star Game in 2014, signed a 13-year, $330 million contract in March.
"[It's an honor], especially because with this team, I feel like there are multiple guys who are deserving of making the All-Star team," Realmuto said. "Just to be able to represent this team and this organization is definitely special for me. Should be a lot of fun."
The 2019 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard will be played on Tuesday, July 9, at Progressive Field in Cleveland. It will be televised nationally by FOX Sports; in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS; and worldwide by partners in more than 180 countries. FOX Deportes will provide Spanish-language coverage in the United States, while ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, MLB.com and SiriusXM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage.