Every year, as the All-Star Game chatter gets going, the talk in Nationals nation is who they hope might get asked to be invited as a manager’s choice, not which Nationals will actually be voted in or even how many will go.
And usually the conversation centers around a Ryan Zimmerman or a Drew Storen. Every once and awhile a deserving Tyler Clippard or Dmitri Young gets the call.
Not this season.
There is an incredible Nationals buzz about this team throughout the league.
This year’s 83rd All-Star Game on July 10 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City figures to be different, with the opportunity to see three, maybe even four, Nationals players either selected or invited.
You pretty much have to think right-hander Stephen Strasburg is a lock to get in. Strasburg is 4-1 with a 2.21 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 64 strikeouts.
From a fan-favorite perspective, Bryce Harper should get a ton of votes as a write-in candidate, and not just from Nationals followers. Harper will be showcased three times on national television this month, from May 6-27. That means a lot of baseball fans, who have never seen Harper play live, have or will have finally seen what Nats fans have seen for 20-plus games. The kid is a baseball player.
Harper is batting .267 with six doubles, a team-leading three triples, two homers, two stolen bases and 9 RBIs in 24 games. He has more extra-base hits than Ryan Zimmerman (11 to 8).
Left-hander Gio Gonzalez has had an incredible start to the season with his new team. Gonzalez has won a team-best six games and has 69 strikeouts with a 1.98 ERA. Gonzalez was an All-Star with the Oakland A’s last season.
Adam LaRoche has been the offensive MVP for the Nationals in the first two months of the season. LaRoche has erased the tag of slow starter, hitting .297 with 10 doubles, one triple, eight homers and 33 RBIs.
But an argument can also be made for the season that shortstop Ian Desmond has put together. In 43 games, Desmond has continued to hit, whether in the leadoff spot or in the fifth slot. He is hitting .275 with 13 doubles, one triple, eight homers and 21 RBIs.
And what of Craig Stammen, Jordan Zimmermann or Clippard (the winning pitcher in 2011 Midsummer Classic)? All have been outstanding, and all could have a legitimate argument for their inclusion.
With all these players deserving of All-Star consideration, it means that you have a good team, which is another compliment to the season the Nationals have put together. It should be a lot of fun to see how it all plays out in the next 45 days.
There were a few teams with five players selected or voted into the 2011 All-Star Game. The fan ballot offers you the chance to vote a maximum of 25 times with the voting ending at 11:59 PM ET on Thursday, June 28, 2012.