Remember Cal Ripken Jr.'s streak? No, no. Not that one. I'm talking about Ripken's All-Star Game streak. From his second big league season in 1983 through his final one in 2001, he appeared on every American League All-Star roster -- 19 consecutive seasons.You don't see that kind of stuff anymore.
Remember Cal Ripken Jr.'s streak? No, no. Not that one. I'm talking about Ripken's All-Star Game streak. From his second big league season in 1983 through his final one in 2001, he appeared on every American League All-Star roster -- 19 consecutive seasons.
You don't see that kind of stuff anymore. Injuries get in the way, certainly. And online balloting, which is officially open for business this year with the 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Ballot, has really changed the scope of the starters' vote. There have also been recent changes to the structure of the roster selection -- reducing the roster size and taking the final reserve spots out of the hands of the managers and into the hands of the Commissioner's Office.
What you have, ultimately, are fewer sacred cows who get in because of their legacies and more emphasis on the here and now. So when a player gets in year after year, he's either extremely, extremely popular or he's simply earned it.
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Here are five players who are on the ballot and who have been staples at recent Midsummer Classics, with a look at their chance of extending their streak in 2018.
Bryce Harper (Nationals), three straight starts
Harper's having what is, for him, a very unusual year -- lots of power but not a lot of hits, overall. If he were in the AL (and maybe at this point a year from now, he will be), he wouldn't have a favorable case against the likes of Mike Trout, Mookie Betts and Aaron Judge.
But it says here Harper is, in fact, in the National League. And he plays for the Nationals, who are hosting the All-Star Game. And he was the leading overall vote-getter in 2017. All of this points to Harper not only keeping his starting streak going but getting selected to the NL squad for the sixth time in his seven seasons.
Salvador Perez (Royals), four straight starts
Perez continues to put up solid numbers in the midst of the Royals' rebuild. He missed time at the start of the year with a left knee injury suffered in a freak accident at home, but he's recovered to continue to post above-average offensive output. But with Perez's club taking on a much lower profile these days and with Gary Sanchez swatting double-digit home run totals in the nation's largest market, it would not be a surprise to see Salvy unseated.
Jose Altuve (Astros), three straight starts
Sure, Altuve is off to a slow start only by his unusually absurd standards, but the MVP and World Series momentum will, in all likelihood, earn him a fourth straight start. The Astros have a passionate fan base, and Altuve's recent 10-for-10 stretch began to push his numbers back toward his more traditional territory.
The only caveat here is the presence of Gleyber Torres, a hot and hyped kid doing big things in the Bronx, where, again, that kind of thing gets noticed. Torres' Player of the Week turn and game-winning, extra-innings hit against Altuve's Astros just ahead of the ballot release is sure to help his cause.
Buster Posey (Giants), three straight starts
There are a handful of quality NL catching candidates in the early going, but Posey's early numbers (.299/.370/.431 slash line) are plenty good enough -- and the Giants' fan base is plenty supportive enough -- for him to keep this strike alive. Posey has been in five of the past six All-Star Games and started four of them.
Paul Goldschmidt (D-backs), five straight appearances
All things must pass, of course, but Goldschmidt has been a model of consistency in his big-league career, making his sudden offensive drop-off in 2018 so jarring. Strong starts from Brandon Belt and Freddie Freeman combine with Goldy's surprising sluggishness (.209 average, .719 OPS) to put this streak in real jeopardy.
Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince.