Sliders' 2024 MLB All-Star picks, the baseball follow of the week and more (2024)

Welcome to Sliders, a weekly in-seasonMLBcolumn that focuses on both the timely and timeless elements of baseball.

Major League Baseball will announce the complete All-Star rosters on Sunday, but remember it’s only a first draft. By the time the players take their spots along the baselines in Arlington, Texas, on July 16 — in generic Nike uniforms better suited for workout day — a dozen or so additions will be joining them. Injuries and pitchers’ work schedules always swell the rosters.

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Last season, 77 players made the All-Star teams, though only 64 were active for the game in Seattle, a 3-2 National League victory with lineups that foreshadowed the World Series: five Texas Rangers started for the American League, and two Arizona Diamondbacks for the NL.

This year’s starters were revealed on Wednesday, so they’re reflected below, along with our choices for the rest of the All-Star rosters. Every team must be represented — a rule that gives fans in every market a reason to watch — and every position requires at least one backup. There must be 20 active position players and 12 active pitchers per roster.

Got it? Good. Promise not to complain in the comments? OK, that’s asking too much. Anyway, here goes. Fire away!

American League starters

PlayerPositionTeam

Adley Rutschman

C

Orioles

Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

1B

Blue Jays

Jose Altuve

2B

Astros

Gunnar Henderson

SS

Orioles

3B

Guardians

Aaron Judge

OF

Yankees

Juan Soto

OF

Yankees

Steven Kwan

OF

Guardians

Yordan Alvarez

DH

Astros


National League starters

PlayerPositionTeam

William Contreras

C

Brewers

Bryce Harper

1B

Phillies

Ketel Marte

2B

Diamondbacks

Trea Turner

SS

Phillies

Alec Bohm

3B

Phillies

Jurickson Profar

OF

Padres

Fernando Tatis Jr.

OF

Padres

Christian Yelich

OF

Brewers

Shohei Ohtani

DH

Dodgers


American League reserves

PlayerPositionTeam

Salvador Perez

C

Royals

Josh Naylor

1B

Guardians

Marcus Semien

2B

Rangers

Bobby Witt Jr.

SS

Royals

Carlos Correa

SS

Twins

Rafael Devers

3B

Red Sox

Isaac Paredes

3B

Rays

Jarren Duran

OF

Red Sox

Riley Greene

OF

Tigers

Tyler O'Neill

OF

Red Sox

David Fry

DH

Guardians


American League pitchers

PlayerTeam

Tyler Anderson

Angels

Corbin Burnes

Orioles

Ronel Blanco

Astros

Emmanuel Clase

Guardians

Garrett Crochet

White Sox

Logan Gilbert

Mariners

Tanner Houck

Red Sox

Seth Lugo

Royals*

Mason Miller

Athletics

Cole Ragans

Royals

Joe Ryan

Twins

Tigers

*indicates starter

National League reserves

PlayerPositionTeam

Will Smith

C

Dodgers

Freddie Freeman

1B

Dodgers

Luis Arraez

2B

Padres

Brice Turang

2B

Brewers

SS

Nationals

Elly De La Cruz

SS

Reds

Ryan McMahon

3B

Rockies

Teoscar Hernandez

OF

Dodgers

Brandon Nimmo

OF

Mets

Heliot Ramos

OF

Giants

Marcell Ozuna

DH

Braves


National League pitchers

PlayerTeam

Tyler Glasnow

Dodgers

Ryan Helsley

Cardinals

Bryan Hudson

Brewers

Shota Imanaga

Cubs

Jake Irvin

Nationals

Reynaldo Lopez

Braves

Chris Sale

Braves

Tanner Scott

Marlins

Paul Skenes

Pirates

Ranger Suarez

Phillies

Robert Suarez

Padres

Zack Wheeler

Phillies*

*indicates starter

Follow of the week

A can’t miss baseball feed for baseball lovers

@BrooksGate

The most informative, entertaining, how-about-that baseball X account is not run by a stats service, a team, or a media member. The name of the account has nothing to do with baseball, either. But we’re sure glad the proprietor of @BrooksGate loves this sport.

Jordan Harrison is a 23-year-old data analyst from Tampa, Fla., an Auburn graduate with an infectious curiosity about baseball and a clever way of expressing it.

About six months ago, he started the X account and named it for his dog, Brooks (adding the ubiquitous -gate suffix after Brooks seemed to bring his owner bad luck when betting on football games). The @BrooksGate account now has over 16,000 followers, and Harrison has something for everyone, since many of his posts focus on how each team stacks up on a single metric or trend.

bullpen ERA pic.twitter.com/hlhlNVLoDL

— BrooksGate (@Brooks_Gate) July 3, 2024

“It helps add context when you’re sharing stats to show what team’s at the top and what team’s at the bottom,” Harrison said. “And when you show every team, then obviously everybody can see how their team’s doing.”

Harrison mines his data from the usual places: FanGraphs, Baseball Savant, Baseball-Reference and its pay service, Stathead. He’ll dig deep into Retrosheet, too, but not often.

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“I’m obviously a younger dude, so I know players from the 2010s,” he said. “I love finding guys who are kind of under-represented. I remember I found one with the longest hit streak for each team, and Dan Uggla had a 33-game streak in a year he batted .233. I thought that was really interesting. I love finding players that people don’t talk about, that you kind of forgot, but they had really successful runs.”

Sometimes, Harrison uses video: four different styles of umpires calling strike three, the five longest home runs hit this season. And he’ll veer off into wacky tangents that pretty much define pointless fun:

Here’s each team’s opposite nickname:

opposites pic.twitter.com/k11O8UlErC

— BrooksGate (@Brooks_Gate) May 24, 2024

The word count on each team’s Wikipedia page:

here is the word count of each MLB teams Wikipedia page pic.twitter.com/7WIkoZNpBY

— BrooksGate (@Brooks_Gate) April 30, 2024

A color switch for each city’s MLB and NFL teams:

for cities with an MLB and NFL team, here is a color swap on their logos pic.twitter.com/2xpiikLA4f

— BrooksGate (@Brooks_Gate) April 13, 2024

And you know you want to see every team’s name mentioned in a movie in 125 seconds:

the name of each MLB team mentioned in a movie pic.twitter.com/LhnGx8DKN6

— BrooksGate (@Brooks_Gate) April 17, 2024

There’s nothing in it for Harrison. It would be fun to work in baseball, he guessed, but he hasn’t tried to pursue it. He’s not a graphic designer or a statistician, just a fan with a lot of spare time and a brain attuned to the amusing and amazing.

“I’m definitely a baseball nut,” he said — and a must-follow for fellow nuts, too.

Gimme Five

Five bits of ballpark wisdom

Bob DiBiasio on All-Star Games through the years

Few people can match Bob DiBiasio for perspective on the All-Star Game’s evolution. DiBiasio, the Cleveland Guardians’ senior vice president for public affairs, has helped Cleveland stage the event in 1981, 1997 and 2019.

The All-Star Game is an MLB production, but much of the detail work naturally falls to the host. In 1981, DiBiasio said, Cleveland had five people on its All-Star planning committee. The number grew to 28 in 1997, and to more than 40 in 2019.

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“Not everybody wants the All-Star Game,” DiBiasio said. “It’s a lot of hassle and a lot of work. But we wanted it for what it could do for our fans and for our town. We’ve had six All-Star games. That’s the most of any city with only one baseball team.”

The event now includes the Home Run Derby, which debuted in 1985, the Futures Game (1999) and the MLB Draft (2021). We’ve also seen celebrity softball games, concerts, parades, red-carpet fashion shows, pop-up theme parks for fans and other sideshows. So, yes, a whole lot has changed.

One thing that hasn’t is the prestige of the event. It may have been primitive in 1981, but it was also a huge deal: a record crowd of 72,806 showed up at old Municipal Stadium to witness the return of MLB after a lengthy summer strike.

Here are some of DiBiasio’s memories from three eras of the Midsummer Classic:

In ’81, the Second Fan tossed the First Pitch. “I was running up to (general manager) Phil Seghi’s office, because he had agreed to do an interview with NBC — and there’s Vice President Bush sitting behind his desk. No Secret Service. And I went, ‘Oh, I’m sorry, sir.’ And, he goes, ‘Hey, what’s your name?’ I introduced myself and told him I was looking for Phil, and he goes, ‘Oh, yeah, he just told me he had an interview on the field, so I think he’s on his way. Sit down, let’s talk.’ And I’m like, ‘I can’t say no.’ So we sat down and talked baseball, and later he sent me a pair of vice presidential cufflinks with a really nice note. Just the nicest guy you’d ever want to meet, and one of the biggest baseball fans ever.”

When the strike changed the date, Cleveland improvised. “We had to redo every credential, because the credentials for the July game got tossed in the garbage. There was originally batting practice scheduled the day before, when fans could come to watch, but we didn’t have that (in August) because the Browns had a football game the night before our game. So we lost out on all that, and we had to spray-paint the field and get the football lines off to make it look like it was a baseball-only place. It was all hands on deck to welcome back baseball.”

The Kissing Bandit smooched the hometown hero. “Lenny Barker had pitched a perfect game in May and was one of the league leaders in wins and strikeouts — but Jack Morris started that game instead of Lenny in his home ballpark. And I remember Morganna ran out onto the field when Lenny was pitching. Everybody had been like, ‘We can’t let Morganna get on the field’ — and next thing you know she’s out there on the mound!”

The timing was perfect in 1997. “We had 91 sold-out events that year if you count the regular season, the postseason, the home run derby and the All-Star Game — at 43,000-plus (capacity), at that time. That’s why I think the ’97 one is my favorite, simply because it was at the height of the rebirth, the renaissance of baseball in Cleveland and we were riding high. We legitimized the building of a baseball-only ballpark in downtown Cleveland — and built a (winning) baseball team at the same time — so the energy was just magical. And it ended up that Sandy Alomar was the first guy ever to be the All-Star MVP in his hometown — and then Shane Bieber did it again in 2019. I was in a suite with Sandy that night, and he nudges me and goes, ‘They’re going to give the MVP to Shane Bieber.’ And I said, ‘Well, you did that, too, so you know better than me.’”

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In 2019, convenience was key. “The 2019 one was really more of a civic celebration. The weather was beautiful, and we were one of the first teams to be able to do the (outdoor) Play Ball event next door to FanFest at the Convention Center, less than a mile from the ballpark. Baseball was so excited that we had the ability in our town to do that, so people weren’t bussed around town to go to all the activities. You pulled up in a cab in Cleveland downtown, and you didn’t need to get the car again for three or four days.”

Off the Grid

Miguel Tejada/Orioles Silver Slugger

In 2004, Miguel Tejada did something extremely rare that almost no one remembers. In his first year with the Baltimore Orioles, Tejada reached both 200 hits and 150 runs batted in. Only two other players had done that since World War II — the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Tommy Davis in 1962 and the Chicago White Sox’s Albert Belle in 1998 — and nobody has done it since.

Tejada’s performance was good enough to win him a Silver Slugger Award, which made him an answer on last Thursday’s Grid. Incredibly, though, that honor eluded him in his Most Valuable Player season for the Oakland A’s in 2002.

Alex Rodriguez won the Silver Slugger for AL shortstops in 2002; his Rangers finished last in the AL West while Tejada helped lead Oakland to the division title. Excluding pitchers, it’s the last instance of an AL MVP not also being a Silver Slugger.

Here’s the full list of position players to win MVP but not Silver Slugger, which was first presented in 1980. In every case, the MVP also played for a division winner.

1991 National League
MVP: Terry Pendleton, Braves, .319, 22 HR, 86 RBIs, .880 OPS, 10 SB
Silver Slugger (3B): Howard Johnson, Mets, .259, 38 HR, 117 RBIs, .877 OPS, 30 SB

2000 American League
MVP: Jason Giambi, A’s, .333, 43 HR, 137 RBIs, 1.123 OPS
Silver Slugger (1B): Carlos Delgado, Blue Jays, .344, 41 HR, 137 RBIs, 1.134 OPS

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2002 American League
MVP: Miguel Tejada, A’s, .308, 34 HR, 131 RBIs, .861 OPS
Silver Slugger (SS): Alex Rodriguez, Rangers, .300, 57 HR, 142 RBIs, 1.015 OPS

2005 National League
MVP: Albert Pujols, Cardinals, .330, 41 HR, 117 RBIs, 1.039 OPS
Silver Slugger (1B): Derrek Lee, Cubs, .335, 46 HR, 107 RBIs, 1.080 OPS

2010 National League
MVP: Joey Votto, Reds, .324, 37 HR, 113 RBIs, 1.024 OPS
Silver Slugger (1B): Albert Pujols, Cardinals, .312, 42 HR, 118 RBIs, 1.011 OPS

2016 National League
MVP: Kris Bryant, Cubs, .292, 39 HR, 102 RBIs, .939 OPS
Silver Slugger (3B): Nolan Arenado, Rockies, .294, 41 HR, 133 RBIs, .932 OPS

Classic Clip

“The D-O-D-G-E-R-S Song (Oh really! No, O’Malley!)”

Orlando Cepeda’s name sounded best with a little extra kick, fitting for a man known as “Cha-Cha” who had a Caribbean grill named in his honor at the San Francisco Giants’ ballpark. Cepeda, the Hall of Fame first baseman who played most of his career with San Francisco, died last Friday at 86 — and in my head, it’s always Danny Kaye singing his name with flair.

Kaye, the Brooklyn-born entertainer who was part-owner of the expansion Seattle Mariners, was such an avid baseball fan that a ball, glove and bat are engraved on a bench at his cemetery plot in Valhalla, N.Y. A friend of Leo Durocher’s, Kaye wrote a novelty song in 1962 about a fictional game between his beloved Dodgers and their rivals — the “J-I-N-T-S… Jints!”

The song, which was included on a fun 1990 compilation called “Baseball’s Greatest Hits,” name-checks 19 people, with clever wordplay to chronicle the homers, steals, bunts and fielding adventures of the old New York rivals.

Cepeda is the first Giant mentioned — “with a wham, bam, he hit a grand slam!” — and later is flummoxed by a series of bunts that ends with the “Miller-Hiller-Haller Hallelujah Twist,” helping the Dodgers win.

It’s silly, yes, but very catchy — and a reminder of Cepeda’s standing among the greats in MLB’s early days on the West Coast.

(Top photo of Zack Wheeler, Alec Bohm and Bryce Harper: Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

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