Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, and Ian Desmond were all called into manager Davey Johnson’s office individually Sunday morning, just a few short hours before Major League Baseball was set to announce the rosters for next week’s 2012 All Star Game. They could potentially be joined by a fourth member of the Washington Nationals, as Bryce Harper is one of five candidates on the ballot for the final fan vote.
Since arriving in Washington for the 2005 season, the organization has only once sent more than one player to the Midsummer Classic, when both Livan Hernandez and Chad Cordero made the roster that year. Each year since the organization has sent just one lone representative.
Strasburg and Gonzalez both were voted in by their fellow players across the National League. Each has had strong first halves to the 2012 season – Strasburg is 9-3 with a 2.81 ERA, Gonzalez is 11-3 with a 3.01 ERA. They’ve also gone back-and-forth a bit for the NL strikeout lead, which Strasburg currently holds with 122.
Desmond was selected by Tony LaRussa, who’ll manage the NL squad despite retiring after leading the St. Louis Cardinals to last year’s World Series victory. While entering the season facing a great deal of animosity from the fans, including a portion of the DoD staff (myself included), for his inconsistent play, Desmond has been a bright spot on the season thus far producing in the clutch and providing a steadier presence on defense than some had become accustomed to. While not the flashiest shortstop in the NL, he does lead much of the league at the position in a number of offensive categories and it is nice to see him get some recognition for those efforts.
This if the first All Star appearance for both Strasburg and Desmond. Gonzalez was at last year’s game as a representative of the Oakland A’s.
While there was a great deal of early talk about Harper potentially making the team, he’s cooled off of late and there were simply other outfielders across the league who deserved to go to the game more. He still has a chance at being in Kansas City next week, however, depending on the outcome of voting for the final spot on the roster. Harper is facing four other players in the “Final Vote” – Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones and outfielder Michael Bourn, Arizona Diamondbacks infielder Aaron Hill, and Cardinals third baseman David Freese.
As much as Harper would love to attend the game, and recognizes what an honor it would be, he’s continued to handle himself like a consumate professional and perennial All Star with the media. Asked after yesterday’s game in Atlanta about the “Final Vote” and going up against Jones, he simply responded:
"He should have already been in the All Star Game, no matter what. He’s all All Star and has been an All Star for 20 years. I think Chip should be there and … if I had to vote, Chip’s going."