LeMahieu, Sanchez named All-Star starters

Judge, Voit, Urshela, Torres finish as runners-up in Starters Election

June 28th, 2019

LONDON -- intended to prove that he could bounce back from the worst season of his professional career, while wanted to show that his stroke would translate as he tried on a new uniform. Both have succeeded with aplomb, and they are being rewarded with trips to Cleveland for the 2019 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard.

LeMahieu and Sanchez were among the winners of the inaugural Google MLB All-Star Starters Election, announced Thursday night. LeMahieu will start at second base for the American League against the National League on July 9 at Progressive Field, while Sanchez will be behind the plate.

"For the fans to vote for me and take their time to put me ahead in the voting, it feels great," Sanchez said through a translator. "That's a lot of support from our fans. Comparing this year to last year, it's the result from the hard work that I put in going back to last offseason. In a way, it tells me that bad year from last year is well behind me."

First baseman , third baseman , shortstop and outfielder were among the runners-up, leaving their All-Star fates up in the air for now. Players who did not win the Starters Election are not automatically added as reserves, but still can make it via selection by the players, managers or league. Pitchers and reserves will be announced on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Still, this is set up to be the first season in which the Yankees have had a pair of position players start the All-Star Game since 2012, when and were in the middle infield for the AL, with behind them in center field.

"It's very cool," LeMahieu said. "I was able to watch the show a little bit last night. It's a good feeling, for sure. It definitely wasn't the first thing on my mind. I just wanted to establish myself and be a contributor. I feel like I've had a pretty good first half so far, and I'm helping the team out."

This is the second All-Star selection but first start for Sanchez, who earned 47.1% of the vote (614,340 votes) in the final round to beat out of the White Sox (33.1%, 431,667 votes) and of the Astros (19.8%, 257,997).

Sanchez also made the AL roster in 2017 but did not do so last year, when he suffered through an injury-plagued season in which his OPS dropped below .700. But Sanchez has been resurgent this year, batting .266/.332/.607 and ranking second in the AL with 23 home runs.

With Judge and sidelined for much of the season, Sanchez’s power has provided a big boost for the Yankees' lineup. And now he will look to do the same for the AL squad, as the first starting catcher to come from the Bronx since in 2003.

"I'm excited for him," Judge said. "This is a guy, and I've said from the very beginning when he first got called up, he has the capability to be an MVP, not only for one year but multiple years. We're starting to see what he's capable of. Last year I know he was banged up with the shoulder injury and he fought through that all year and battled for us. He wore it for us a lot that past year. This year, he's healthy and he's strong."

This is the second All-Star start (third selection) for LeMahieu, but his first with the Yankees, who this past offseason signed him to a two-year contract that so far is looking like a massive bargain. LeMahieu arrived from Colorado with question marks about his bat, both because of numbers that had declined since he won the National League batting title in 2016, and because hitters tend to face skepticism when they depart Coors Field.

But LeMahieu has responded by posting easily the strongest road numbers of his career, contributing to an overall line of .336/.385/.522. He leads the AL batting race, while his 12 home runs are just three shy of the career high he set last year.

"I've always had confidence that I would be a pretty good hitter, no matter where," LeMahieu said. "It's nothing new for me, getting that question. It's been a good first half, for sure. [Coors Field is] a good place to hit, but I don't think you can totally dismiss the offensive players there. It's not even the halfway point yet, we've got a ways to go yet, but it's been a good start for sure."

While LeMahieu has expanded his defensive versatility by starting 21 games at third base and four at first, he will start for the AL at second after earning 38% of the vote (512,856 total votes) to surpass the Astros’ (31.5%, 426,009) and the Angels’ (30.5%, 412,447). That breaks a streak of four straight starts at the position for Altuve.

Of the four Yankees finalists who finished as runners-up, Judge came the closest to being voted in as a starter. Despite an oblique injury that cost him two months and has limited him to 25 games -- Judge returned to action on June 21 -- the imposing slugger nearly was selected to start the Midsummer Classic for the third year in a row. Ultimately, his 9.9% share of the vote left him less than a percentage point behind the third AL outfielder, Houston’s (10.8%).

At first base, Voit faced the challenge of going up against fellow finalist , who garnered huge support from hometown Cleveland fans trying to get him into the lineup at Progressive Field. While Voit’s .270/.386/.491 line and 17 homers are stellar, that was too much for him to overcome, as the veteran Santana made his first career All-Star team by nearly doubling Voit’s second-place total of 350,105.

When the season began, few would have expected Urshela to play a major role for the Yankees this year, much less be an All-Star finalist. He has accomplished both things, batting .303 in 64 games, but came up short in the Starters Election. Urshela’s 23.3% vote share (303,772 votes) put him third behind winner (Astros, 49.1%, 639,672) and (Royals, 27.6%, 358,799).

Torres has stated a compelling All-Star case by batting .291/.354/.549 and popping 19 home runs to tie for the MLB lead at the position. However, Torres’ 31.2% share (410,034 votes) could not overcome the momentum enjoyed by (42%, 551,365), whose breakout season has thrust him into the AL Most Valuable Player Award conversation and helped the Twins build a sizeable lead in the AL Central.

"We've got a couple of other guys that weren't voted in as starters but deserve to be in that All-Star Game," Judge said.