Cronenworth's turnaround lands him on NL All-Star squad

July 16th, 2022

SAN DIEGO -- Two months ago, Jake Cronenworth was a .205 hitter, struggling to regain the form that made him one of the best second basemen in baseball across his first two seasons.

Now, he's a two-time All-Star.

Cronenworth was rewarded for his remarkable turnaround on Saturday, when he was selected as a replacement for the National League All-Star team, taking the place of injured Marlins second baseman Jazz Chisholm. The Mets’ Jeff McNeil will take Chisholm’s place in the starting lineup.

Cronenworth will join third baseman Manny Machado and right-hander Joe Musgrove as the Padres’ representatives at the All-Star Game on Tuesday at Dodger Stadium.

"It's kind of hard to put into words,” Cronenworth said. “The work I've put in this year, and the difficulties and struggles I went through early on, to get through those and get back to my normal self and to be able to do this with Manny and Joe is pretty special."

Cronenworth entered Saturday with a .241/.337/.394 slash line while playing his usual outstanding defense -- mostly at second base, though he also has gotten time at first base and shortstop. Among National League second basemen, he trails only Tommy Edman in WAR.

"If you watch him play and how he plays, he does everything right -- from his work ethic to his accountability to doing anything you ask him to do, playing different positions," said Padres manager Bob Melvin. "This isn't going to be his last All-Star Game. I know it's his second already. It won't be his last."

Indeed, in two full Major League seasons, Cronenworth has now reached two All-Star Games. Ever the versatile weapon, Cronenworth made his All-Star debut at first base last year.

If he were to appear at second base, he'd be only the third Padre to do so for the National League -- joining Mark Loretta in 2004 and Roberto Alomar in 1990. Those two are widely considered the two best second basemen in Padres history -- a discussion Cronenworth could soon creep his way into.

Cronenworth received the news in a Saturday morning phone call from Melvin around 10 a.m. PT. He had plans to fly to Michigan to see family. Instead, that family will be meeting Cronenworth in Los Angeles.

"That's pretty special, just to be able to spend the week with them," Cronenworth said. "Some of my family that didn't get to go last year, is coming this year."

Even when Cronenworth was struggling early in the season, Melvin was quick to note the value he brought defensively and his ability to hit in the clutch. Cronenworth has a .950 OPS with runners in scoring position this season.

Still, it was sometime around mid-May that Cronenworth made a slight alteration to his swing. That change paid major dividends, as Cronenworth slashed .315/.417/.537 in June.

"The tough start that I had, the crazy first couple months and all the work that I put in -- it's extremely gratifying," Cronenworth said. "Obviously, I was not expecting it. But for that to happen, it's a pretty special moment.”