All-Star start a 'dream come true' for Polanco

June 28th, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS -- is a bona fide candidate for the American League Most Valuable Player Award, on pace to shatter his career highs in nearly every offensive category and has been worth every penny of the five-year extension that he inked during the offseason.

Now, Polanco can add All-Star starting shortstop to his growing list of accolades after he was announced as the winner of the Starters Election on Thursday.

"I feel great that I'm going to be the starting shortstop in the All-Star Game," Polanco said. "That's a dream come true. I was waiting for this moment, and I feel really happy."

Polanco, who led AL shortstops in voting throughout the Primary round, also led the Starters Election from start to finish and earned 42 percent of the vote, winning the starting job by a comfortable margin over Gleyber Torres of the Yankees (31.2 percent) and Carlos Correa of the Astros (26.8 percent).

Polanco is the first Twins player elected to start a Midsummer Classic since Joe Mauer started at catcher in the 2013 All-Star Game in New York. He could also become the first Minnesota infielder to start since Roy Smalley earned the start at shortstop in the 1979 All-Star Game. (Justin Morneau won the fan vote at first base in 2010 but could not make the start due to injury.)

"I thank the fans a lot," Polanco said. "They kept me winning in the voting. I'm very thankful for the vote, and I thank them for supporting us the rest of the season. I'm very thankful."

If Thursday had been anything remotely resembling a normal day for the Twins, Polanco might have been able to watch and celebrate his selection with his teammates. As it were, Minnesota was still on the field -- locked in the 18th inning of a prolonged battle with Tampa Bay following a 57-minute rain delay.

When Polanco's triumph was officially announced on the selection show on ESPN, the Twins made a stadium announcement at Target Field during the 18th after the news had slowly begun to trickle to Polanco from his teammates.

"That's a great moment for [Polanco], for the organization, for everybody involved," manager Rocco Baldelli said. "He's a class act. He's a tremendous player. To say he's earned this, I think, would be an understatement. He plays shortstop every day, goes out there, does his job and does it with a smile on his face and has the respect of everybody and is one of the better hitters in all of baseball that you're going to see."

The 25-year-old Polanco, who saw a 37-game on-base streak come to an end on Wednesday, entered the day hitting .321/.379/.532 with 11 homers, 22 doubles and five triples. His 2.8 WAR, according to FanGraphs, was the highest mark among the three shortstop finalists and ranked third among AL shortstops on the All-Star ballot behind Xander Bogaerts and Marcus Semien.

"I got to Spring Training ready to go, and the team offered me the contract [extension] and I signed, and I feel really good," Polanco said. "Especially playing with this team that I'm playing for and with these teammates, it's a really good team and these guys grind every day and give the best effort they can to win. I feel great."

finished third in voting among first basemen behind the Yankees' Luke Voit and Carlos Santana of the Indians, who will start the Midsummer Classic in front of his home crowd at Progressive Field. also finished third in the designated hitter tally, with Hunter Pence of the Rangers earning the starting nod and Boston's J.D. Martinez finishing second.

Despite staying within striking distance of a starting outfield spot throughout the Starters Election, finished sixth in the outfield voting, as he, Mookie Betts and Aaron Judge ultimately couldn't bridge the gap to overcome Michael Brantley, the third-place finisher. Brantley will start alongside Mike Trout and George Springer.

Cron, Cruz and Rosario are not guaranteed to be All-Star reserves despite their finalist status, but given the high level of both individual and team success on the Twins this season, Polanco fully expects to be joined in Cleveland by several of his teammates in two weeks.

"I'm waiting for a couple of them to come," Polanco said. "All my teammates, they're All-Stars. They're playing like All-Stars. I'm just waiting for the [other] guys that are going to represent the Minnesota Twins, too."

Pitchers and reserves will be announced on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. CT, also on ESPN.

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, and SiriusXM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage.