Sarah's Take: Dodgers' All-Stars a worthy group
For the first time since 1995, the Los Angeles Dodgers have four players on the National League All-Star team, and Clayton Kershaw is on the five-man ballot for the Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote.
Rookie Joc Pederson will make his first appearance in the All-Star Game presented by T-Mobile. His 20 home runs before the break are impressive, but watching his superior defense in center field is remarkable. It seems like every other day he makes a spectacular catch.
Pederson is the first Dodgers rookie selected for the Midsummer Classic since Hideo Nomo in 1995. Although he doesn't have a high batting average, his .370 on-base percentage is impressive. His seventh-inning single against the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday night was important for the Dodgers to win a four-hour marathon. Pederson's defense, high on-base percentage and surprising power for a rookie deserve to be recognized, and if he continues playing well, he should be considered a top contender for the NL Rookie of the Year Award.
Yasmani Grandal also will make his first All-Star appearance. When he came to Los Angeles in the Matt Kemp trade, he was supposed to bring power to the catching position. He has with his 13 home runs. As a switch-hitter, he can play against both right and left-handers, although all of his home runs have come from the left side.
Since coming to the Dodgers, Grandal has improved at blocking pitches in the dirt. He always has been praised for his ability to frame the strike zone, meaning slightly pulling pitches into the strike zone. Both Kershaw and Zack Greinke have praised Grandal.
Despite cooling off after a torrid April, Adrian Gonzalez was chosen by NL All-Star manager Bruce Bochy to compete in his fifth All-Star Game. His 16 home runs are second among NL first basemen.
Gonzalez doesn't let his offensive woes affect his defensive play. Winning his fourth Gold Glove in 2014, he has played stellar defense this season. His fielding has saved many errant throws, and this has helped the injury-plagued pitching staff.
Greinke, though not having a high win total, definitely belongs on any All-Star pitching staff. Right now he has the lowest ERA in the Major Leagues. He's in the middle of a 27 2/3 scoreless-innings streak. Heading to his third All-Star Game, Greinke might deserve to be the NL's starting pitcher. He hasn't had a bad outing this year.
It is difficult for many baseball people to understand how the reigning NL Cy Young and MVP Award winner has to be voted into the All-Star Game as the Senior Circuit's final player. Kershaw uncharacteristically struggled in April and the first part of May. But now he is beginning to look like his dominating self. In June, he had a 2.16 ERA.