CLEVELAND -- Indians manager Terry Francona gathered his players together on Sunday morning for a team meeting. Rather than walk up to each guy who was named to this year's American League All-Star team, Francona wanted it to be a celebration for the entire ballclub.One by one, the names of
CLEVELAND -- Indians manager Terry Francona gathered his players together on Sunday morning for a team meeting. Rather than walk up to each guy who was named to this year's American League All-Star team, Francona wanted it to be a celebration for the entire ballclub.
One by one, the names of Jose Ramirez, Francisco Lindor, Michael Brantley, Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer were announced to applause from their teammates. For the second year in a row, the Indians are sending five players to the Midsummer Classic, with Ramirez voted into the AL's starting lineup by the fans once again.
"I've been part of it before in prior years," Bauer said of the moment he learned he made his first All-Star team. "Obviously, not being one of the ones announced. So, it was a different experience having my name called. It's something that I'll remember for a while."
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This marks the first time since 1998-99 that the Indians have at least five All-Stars in consecutive years and the 15th time in club history to have five or more picked for the Midsummer Classic. Ramirez is the first player voted into the starting lineup for Cleveland since 1999-2000, when Roberto Alomar and Manny Ramirez were each honored. Ramirez is the first Tribe third baseman to start in back-to-back All-Star Games since Al Rosen in 1953-54.
Lindor pointed out that four of the players heading to Washington for the All-Star Game were groomed within the Indians' farm system. Lindor was a first-round pick by Cleveland in 2011, Ramirez was signed as an international free agent in '09, and both Kluber and Brantley were acquired in trades as Minor Leaguers.
"It's unique, you know?" Lindor said. "It says a lot about the system. Every guy that is going to the All-Star Game this year has come up along with us -- except Bauer. Everybody else has grown up in the system. It says a lot about the Indians."
Lindor, Brantley and Kluber were selected to the AL All-Star team by their peers, while Bauer was picked by MLB officials.
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Baseball fans were introduced to the duo of Ramirez and Lindor nationally in 2016, when they helped lead the Indians to the World Series. For the second All-Star Game in a row, the left side of Cleveland's infield will be present alongside the game's top players, which is where Ramirez and Lindor belong. Ramirez ranks second in MLB in WAR (5.7 per Fangraphs), with Lindor (5.2) close behind.
Ramirez and Lindor are the fifth set of teammates in Major League history to each have at least 50 extra-base hits before the All-Star break. Lindor, who leads the Majors in runs scored (79), is the first shortstop in MLB history to have at least 50 extra-base hits and 75 or more runs scored in the first half of a season. Lindor is also only the second shortstop in Indians history -- alongside Lou Boudreau (1940-44) -- to be named to at least three All-Star Games in a row.
"It's cool to watch them," Kluber said, "I don't want to say compete against each other, but I think that they drive each other, which is cool. It's funny. I feel like if Frankie goes out there and hits a double, Jose is going to go out there and hit a homer and vice versa. I think they kind of feed off each other, which is good for us."
As things stand, Ramirez boasts a .292/.395/.590 slash line, while Lindor's is .298/.374/.565. Ramirez has 24 home runs, 25 doubles, 59 RBIs and 19 stolen bases. Lindor has 23 homers, 27 doubles, 56 RBIs and 12 steals. At the same time, both Lindor and Ramirez are among the best defenders in baseball at their respective positions.
"It's one of the most gratifying things to watch kids grow from kids to grown-ups," Francona said, "and see how much they improve on the field while maintaining their youthful enthusiasm while they're doing it. I actually think their better days are ahead of them, which bodes well for us."
Brantley -- an All-Star in 2014 and also last season -- returns to the Midsummer Classic after coming back from a right ankle injury that shortened his campaign to 90 games last year. Through Sunday, the Indians' veteran left fielder was batting .306/.351/.490 with 11 homers, 23 doubles and 49 RBIs for the AL Central-leading Tribe.
"For Brant, all that he's been through," Francona said, "I grabbed him and I told him, 'Take a minute and enjoy this,' because he put a lot of work in."
Kluber (three-time All-Star) and Bauer are only the third set of Indians pitchers since 1969 to make the AL squad in the same year, joining Carsten Sabathia and Jake Westbrook (2004) and Danny Salazar and Kluber ('16). Kluber is the first starting pitcher to be named to at least three All-Star teams in a row since Sam McDowell made four straight squads from 1968-71.
Kluber, who is the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, leads the AL in innings pitched (126 1/3) and is 12-4 with a 2.49 ERA. Bauer has a 2.45 ERA with 156 strikeouts in 121 1/3 innings, and he leads MLB in WAR (4.5), Fielding Independent Pitching (2.17) and home run rate (0.37 per nine innings).
"We have a good rotation," Bauer said. "We know we can pitch. That's kind of the lifeblood of the team. That's how we feel as a starting staff anyway. That's how we try to take our job, and go out there and be the best that we can be and put in all the work."
As the names of the Indians' All-Stars were revealed on Sunday morning, rookie pitcher Shane Bieber sat back and soaked it all in. It would have been natural for him to daydream about hearing his own name called in a season down the road.
"I was more caught up in, 'How many more guys are we going to get?'" Bieber said with a laugh. "How many were there? Five? That's pretty impressive. The talent around this clubhouse is pretty remarkable. It's an exciting time and exciting to be around right now."
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.