At the end of April, it would have been difficult to find a candidate for the All-Star Game from anyone on the Los Angeles Angels’ roster.
Today, there seem to be no shortage of players who could be picked for the American League team by Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington.
Mike Trout? Mark Trumbo? Absolutely. Both are having spectacular seasons and both are still in the early stages of their careers — the kind of thing Major League Baseball likes to showcase during its midsummer game.
Even though each league has 34 spots on its roster, there’s no guarantee the Angels will get all of their deserving players chosen. Currently, no Angels player leads in fan voting at any position, and only first baseman Albert Pujols ranks among the top five.
Pujols is more than a longshot to be picked, but at least two (and possibly three) Angels players could be selected through either the players’ ballot or manager selections, which are done in conjunction with MLB officials.
Here are our picks for the most likely Angels to get tabbed for the July 10 game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.
MIKE TROUT: Although he missed the first 20 games of the season, the rookie outfielder is having a sustained impact on the team — and the entire American League — since his promotion from the minors. Trout energizes the Angels offense with his base running and base stealing. He’s second in the league in hitting (.338), first in stolen bases (19), third in on-base percentage (.397) and sixth in OPS (on base plus slugging, .925). If MLB wants to showcase its future, Trout should be there.
MARK TRUMBO: Despite having been shuttled from one position to another (left field, right field, third base, first base, designated hitter), Trumbo has been the Angels’ most reliable offensive threat. He leads the team with 17 home runs, 48 RBI and a .636 slugging average and is fourth in the AL in batting at .324. He’s listed as a third baseman on the fans’ All-Star ballot but hasn’t played there since May 3, so it’s easy to understand why he’s being overlooked in voting. Even if he gets squeezed out for a spot on the roster, he would be a perfect pick for the Home Run Derby.
JERED WEAVER: Although he just returned from the DL after missing 19 games because of a lower-back strain, Weaver’s stats still measure up: seven wins and a league-leading 2.40 ERA and 0.91 WHIP, to go along with his no-hitter May 2. Weaver threw six shutout innings against the San Francisco Giants in his return from the DL on Wednesday night, so you’ve got to wonder if manager Mike Scioscia would prefer that his right-hander sit out the All-Star Game and rest up for the second half. But if he’s picked, Weaver would be a candidate to start along with White Sox lefty Chris Sale (8-2, 2.46).
CJ WILSON: The Angels left-hander labored through his start Tuesday night against the Giants, but in his five previous assignments he didn’t give up more than one earned run while pitching six or more innings each time. He’s currently on a four-game winning streak, has eight victories and is second to Weaver in the league ERA race (2.44). Would Washington, his manager with the Texas Rangers, pick Wilson? It’s a good question.
ERNESTO FRIERI AND SCOTT DOWNS: Combined, Downs and Frieri have worked 43 innings out of the bullpen and surrendered just one earned run. Problem is, they’re unlikely to get the props they deserve because they share the job of closer. Frieri has seven saves, Downs six, and neither has received much national attention for his work. All-Star bullpens typically are filled with starters and closers, so both Angels relievers figure to be left at home. But Scioscia likes them just fine. Asked which one he would pick if he were the AL manager, he answered, “What about both? I pick Ernesto Downs.”