Felix, League named to AL All-Star team
Mariners ace Felix Hernandez and closer Brandon League were named to the American League All-Star team on Sunday, as announced on the MLB All-Star Selection Show presented by Taco Bell.
Hernandez won the AL Cy Young Award last season without making the All-Star team. This year Hernandez earned an All-Star bid, but likely won’t be able to pitch in the Midsummer Classic since he’s scheduled to start for the Mariners next Sunday, two days before the July 12 All-Star Game in Phoenix.
League earned his first All-Star berth as he shares the AL lead in saves at 21 with the Yankees’ Mariano Rivera heading into Sunday’s games. He was one of five closers named to the AL team.
League, 28, took over as the Mariners closer this season for the injured David Aardsma and has been perfect outside of a four-game blip in mid-May when he lost four straight games. Prior to that, he racked up nine straight saves and since then he’s gone 12-for-12 in save opportunities while not allowing an earned run in 18 straight appearances.
League (0-4 with a 3.48 ERA) has 27 strikeouts and five walks in 33 2/3 innings. The Hawaiian native came into the season with just eight saves in seven Major League seasons, having worked primarily as a set-up man in Toronto from 2004-09 and then Seattle last year after being acquired along with Minor League outfielder Johermyn Chavez in a trade for right-hander Brandon Morrow.
Hernandez has followed up on last year’s Cy Young season with an 8-7 start with a 3.35 ERA. He ranks third in the AL in innings pitched at 129 and strikeouts at 124 and again is the ace of a Mariners staff that has kept Seattle in contention in the AL West despite an offense that ranks at the bottom of the league in nearly every statistical category.
Hernandez pitched in the 2009 All-Star Game in St. Louis, but didn’t get selected for the game last year when he went on to win his first Cy Young.
Ichiro Suzuki saw his run of 10 straight All-Star selections come to an end when he was left off the AL team after the slowest first half of his Major League career. Ichiro, 37, is hitting .268, more than 60 points below his career .331 average.
The veteran right fielder has stolen 20 bases, but has current career lows in on-base percentage (.317) and slugging percentage (.330). Both numbers are well below his career averages of .376 and .430.
Ichiro had been voted into the All-Star game nine of his first 10 years in Seattle and was named as a reserve in ’05, the one year he didn’t get chosen by the fans. He had the longest active streak of All-Star appearances.
Ichiro was the only Mariner selected to the All-Star Game last year and the club hasn’t had more than two All-Stars in the same season since ’03, when five Seattle players were selected.
Mariners rookie Michael Pineda was not named to the initial group, but some pitchers likely will be added as others — like Hernandez — are subtracted due to their schedules. Hernandez, Detroit’s Justin Verlander and Tampa Bay’s James Shields are all slated to start next Sunday, which would mean they’ll need to be replaced.
So we’ll have to see how that plays out.