MIAMI -- Never before have the Rockies sent four players to one Midsummer Classic, but there they sat Monday afternoon at Marlins Park, side by side: Nolan Arenado, DJ LeMahieu, Greg Holland and Charlie Blackmon.Last year, Arenado made the trip to San Diego with only one teammate, Carlos Gonzalez. Blackmon
MIAMI -- Never before have the Rockies sent four players to one Midsummer Classic, but there they sat Monday afternoon at Marlins Park, side by side: Nolan Arenado, DJ LeMahieu, Greg Holland and Charlie Blackmon.
Last year, Arenado made the trip to San Diego with only one teammate, Carlos Gonzalez. Blackmon and LeMahieu didn't make the cut, and Holland was still working his way back from Tommy John surgery. What difference has a year made? The Rockies are legitimate contenders, and they have a club-record four National League All-Stars -- and two starters, Arenado and Blackmon -- to prove it.
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"I think the guys that we have here are well deserving of it -- Charlie, DJ and Greg Holland have been unbelievable. It's been great," Arenado said. "We're getting the credit because we're winning ballgames."
Despite losing 13 of their last 18 games, the Rockies (52-39, second in the NL Wild Card standings) would be preparing for their first trip to the postseason since 2009 if the season had ended Sunday.
"I think having four guys here is just a reflection on how well our first half went as a team," LeMahieu said.
Colorado is only two games behind division-rival Arizona in the Wild Card standings, where the Rockies are leading the defending World Series champion Cubs by 7 1/2 games.
"Obviously we're in a good position. We're playing meaningful baseball games in the second half, and that's what you want as a team," said Arenado, an All-Star for the third straight year. "We wish we would have ended the first half a little bit better, but we're going to play meaningful games and that's all you can ask for."
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The Rockies are particularly pleased to see Arenado in the national spotlight. The four-time Gold Glove Award winner, regarded for years as one of the game's most underrated superstars, was elected to start the All-Star Game presented by Mastercard (5:30 MT tonight on FOX), edging reigning NL MVP Kristopher Bryant and bigger-market stars Justin Turner and Anthony Rendon.
"He's [been] an MVP candidate the last two or three years, and he is again this year," LeMahieu said. "He's one of the best players in the league, and I think people have taken notice. They're starting to watch him a little more now that we're doing well."
Blackmon, who also competed in the T-Mobile Home Run Derby on Monday night, will lead off and start in center field tonight, with Arenado starting at third base and batting sixth. LeMahieu will come off the bench. Holland, meanwhile, gets to relax and savor his triumph over injury.
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The closer's two previous All-Star appearances came with the Royals in 2013 and '14, before he needed Tommy John surgery in October 2015. After surgery, Holland wondered whether he'd reach this level again. He missed all of last season but has returned to form with the Rockies, leading the Majors with 28 saves over the first half.
"I took a little time when I found out, with my wife, we kind of sat down and talked about where I'd been in the past and the surgery and stuff, kind of reminisced a little bit about it," Holland said Monday. "I think it's something I'll appreciate later on more so than now. Now, I'm still just worried about doing my job. I try to just take that stuff out of my mind."
Tonight at 5:30 MT, tune in to the 2017 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard live on FOX, and during the game visit MLB.com to submit your choice for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet via the 2017 MLB All-Star Game MVP Vote. The 88th All-Star Game, in Miami, will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 160 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB.com, MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.
Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.