Team success paved the way for individual achievement, as the National League All-Star team announced on Saturday demonstrated.
The St. Louis Cardinals, who own the Majors' second-best record and have reached the postseason in nine of the past 13 years, placed an NL-high five players on the roster for the July 16 Midsummer Classic at New York's Citi Field. This marked the third time in the last four years that the Cardinals have had at least five All-Star representatives.
"I think it shows how we're built," said outfielder Carlos Beltran, who's part of St. Louis' contingent, along with catcher Yadier Molina, first baseman/outfielder Allen Craig, second baseman Matt Carpenter and right-hander Adam Wainwright. "It really shows that we're a good team."
The Pittsburgh Pirates, who possess the Majors' best record, were recognized with four All-Stars, their largest contingent since 1981. Center fielder Andrew McCutchen and closer Jason Grilli, whose selections were anticipated, were joined by third baseman Pedro Alvarez and left-hander Jeff Locke. Before Clint Hurdle became Pittsburgh's manager in 2011, the Pirates had only the obligatory solo All-Star representative in 14 of 16 seasons. They had a pair of selections in the other two years.
"We're not the team that gets a token one [selection] anymore," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said after the 2013 All-Star squads were revealed on FOX's MLB All-Star Selection Show presented by Taco Bell. "We've earned our way."
San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy, who will run the NL squad due to his status as the skipper of the reigning World Series champions, said that more Cardinals, Pirates and Cincinnati Reds, who placed three players on the roster, could have been named.
"They had a lot of candidates," Bochy said, citing Pirates left-hander Francisco Liriano and Reds right fielder Jay Bruce. "It's always difficult to leave off guys."
Bochy said that a host of relievers from around the NL also posted All-Star-worthy credentials, including Colorado's Rex Brothers, Washington's Rafael Soriano and Miami's Steve Cishek.
The NL starters, as elected by fans, are Molina and Beltran, first baseman Joey Votto and second baseman Brandon Phillips of Cincinnati, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki of Colorado, third baseman David Wright of the host New York Mets, and outfielders Carlos Gonzalez of Colorado and Bryce Harper of Washington.
Molina, who will make his third fan-elected start in five seasons, led all NL players with 6,883,258 votes. He earned that distinction by edging Beltran (6,786,919 votes) and San Francisco catcher Buster Posey (6,474,088). The NL's pacesetter with a .346 batting average and 26 doubles, Molina became the fifth player in Cardinals history to earn at least three fan-elected starting assignments, joining Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith (12), Albert Pujols (five), Mark McGwire (three) and Scott Rolen (three). Molina also joined Mike Piazza (11), Johnny Bench (10), Gary Carter (eight) and Benito Santiago (four) as the only NL catchers to receive at least three fan elections.
Votto and Phillips became the fifth pair of NL teammates to earn fan-elected starts at first and second base. The others were Steve Garvey and Davey Lopes of Los Angeles (1979 and '80), Pete Rose and Manny Trillo of Philadelphia ('82), Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio of Houston ('97) and Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks of Milwaukee (2011).
"It will, in all likelihood, make things feel a little more comfortable," Votto said. "I know it will mean a tremendous amount to Cincinnati Reds fans. I know they will be motivated to tune in and see our antics on the right side of the infield."
Wright, a seven-time All-Star, is the second NL third baseman to earn at least five fan-elected starts, joining Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt (nine). And Tulowitzki and Gonzalez became the first pair of Rockies teammates to earn starting bids together.
"That's neat, and what better way to have it than with 'CarGo,' one of my better friends, not only on the field but off the field, too?" said Tulowitzki, who's out with a fractured right rib but nearing a return from the disabled list. "We're both going to enjoy that moment."
Said Gonzalez, "It's nice. I always knew that 'Tulo' and I could do special things, and that's one of the things I wanted to do, be in the lineup with Tulowitzki, one of the best players I've ever played with. It's a blessing."
Position players bound for the All-Star Game as a result of player balloting are Posey, Carpenter, Alvarez and McCutchen, as well as Arizona first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, Milwaukee shortstop Jean Segura, Colorado outfielder Michael Cuddyer and Philadelphia outfielder Domonic Brown.
The following starting pitchers also gained selection from the player vote: Wainwright, Matt Harvey of the Mets, Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers, Patrick Corbin of the D-backs and Jordan Zimmermann of the Washington Nationals. Relievers named to the All-Star team through the player vote were Grilli, Atlanta's Craig Kimbrel and Cincinnati's Aroldis Chapman.
Arizona manager Kirk Gibson was particularly proud of how Goldschmidt and Corbin were selected.
"They got voted in by the players, which shows how high of regard they're held around the league," Gibson said.
Bochy received nine selections to fill out the remainder of the NL roster, in conjunction with Major League Baseball. He took five pitchers: Locke; Philadelphia's Cliff Lee, Chicago's Travis Wood, San Francisco's Madison Bumgarner and Miami's Jose Fernandez.
Fernandez ranks as one of the most intriguing All-Stars. At 20, he's the youngest Cuban-born All-Star in history. The chance to participate in a Midsummer Classic in New York thrilled him.
"My first start in the big leagues was in New York," Fernandez said. "It's going to be really exciting and really fun to go back there. A lot of memories are going to come back there."
The four position players included among Bochy's selections were Craig, San Diego shortstop Everth Cabrera, Milwaukee outfielder Carlos Gomez and San Francisco second baseman Marco Scutaro. Cabrera is the first Nicaraguan-born position player and the third All-Star overall from Nicaragua, joining pitchers Dennis Martinez (1990-92, '95) and Vicente Padilla (2002).
The roster is bound to be tweaked before the All-Stars convene in New York. Since Locke, Wainwright and Wood are scheduled to pitch on Sunday, July 14, up to three more pitchers could be named to the team, barring rainouts. Tulowitzki plans to play in the Midsummer Classic if he is able to return to regular-season play before then.
The 2013 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote sponsored by freecreditscore.com will determine the 34th NL roster spot. Fans can support the competitors by texting their vote to 89269. Text N1 to vote for Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond, N2 for Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman, N3 for first baseman Adrian Gonzalez of the Dodgers, N4 for Giants outfielder Hunter Pence or N5 for Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com.