The way things are shaping up, Albert Pujols’s best chance of being named an All-Star might be donning a Kansas City Royals uniform.
With eight Royals players on track to start the midsummer showcase thanks to a voting blast by Kansas City fans, there has been talk around baseball, from TV analysts to the commissioner himself, about the deserving players that might miss out on what is supposed to be a gathering of the MLB’s best.
The Halos have the sole non-Royal starter, Mike Trout, who sits in second among outfielders in voting. And if Mike Scioscia had his way, there would be another Angel joining Trout in Cincinnati, where the game will be held July 14: Pujols.
“Albert is an All-Star, whether he’s selected or not; he’s one of the top players in baseball,” said Scioscia. “I don’t know how you leave him off the team, but we’ve seen that selection process be sketchy at best. Albert would have fun going to the game, he belongs there, but you never know.”
As of the last voting update, Pujols sits fifth among AL first baseman with 931,585 votes, less than a fifth of Eric Hosmer’s leading total. Hosmer’s batting average of .296 is higher than Pujols’s .272 mark, but Pujols holds an edge in home runs, slugging percentage and OPS. Pujols is also top five among AL first basemen in home runs, slugging, runs and hits.
It doesn’t help Pujols’ cause that it has been a banner year for first basemen thus far. Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers continues to be one of the best hitters in the majors, the Yankees’ Mark Teixeira leads the league in RBIs, and Prince Fielder has a slash line of .341/.403/.514 for Texas.
The presence of those three sluggers plus Hosmer seems likely to leave Pujols on the outside looking in. He has not made an All-Star game since coming to the Angels, after making nine NL squads with the Cardinals.
But despite the thoughts of his manager, Pujols says he isn’t too concerned by the thought of a potential snub and is focused solely on what he can control: helping his team win.
“That’s not up to me. It’s up to the fans and the manager,” he said. “Would it be great to be there? Of course, everyone wants to be in the All-Star game. But I can’t control that. … My dad always told me, ‘If you can’t control the things that happen to you, then don’t say anything. Don’t speak.’”
But Pujols doesn’t need to speak for himself. He has his teammates to do that.
“The guy is just unbelievable,” David Freese said after Tuesday’s 4-1 win over the Diamondbacks. “I get front-row seats on deck good portion of the time he does what he does. He looks healthy. His legs look powerful. He’s getting down in his stance and he’s ready every pitch.”