Five Nationals named to NL All-Star team

Five Washington Nationals players were named 2017 Major League All-Stars on Sunday evening, with outfielder Bryce Harper, first baseman Ryan Zimmerman, second baseman Daniel Murphy, right-handed pitcher Max Scherzer, and right-handed pitcher Stephen Strasburg all awarded the annual mid-season honor. Harper, Murphy, and Zimmerman were all voted by fans as starters for the NL squad, the most starting players Washington has ever had in the game. Scherzer was selected by his fellow players while Strasburg was chosen by the Commissioner’s Office.

In addition, Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon was named one of five candidates for the National League Final Vote.

The 2017 American League and National League rosters were unveiled during the “Esurance All-Star Selection Show” on ESPN on Sunday night.

This is just the second time in Nationals history (2005-present) that the club will send as many as five representatives to the Midsummer Classic. Washington also had five All-Star players in 2016 at San Diego. Washington’s five attendees match the Houston Astros, Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees for the most in Major League Baseball. This is the first time in Nationals history (2005-pres.) that the club has three elected starters, and it is the third time in franchise history (1982 and 1983 Expos - Hall of Famers Gary Carter and Andre Dawson, along with 2017 Hall of Fame inductee Tim Raines).

Harper will start in the National League outfield for the fourth time in his career. The 24-year-old earned his fifth career All-Star selection by garnering 4,630,306 votes fan votes, the highest vote total among all MLB players. He is the first Nationals player to lead MLB in All-Star balloting, and he is the second player in franchise history (Expos/Nationals) to do so, joining Hall of Famer Gary Carter in 1982. With the starting nod, Harper joins Carter as the only player in franchise history to earn at least four fan elections to the All-Star Game.

At 24 years old, Harper is the fourth-youngest player ever to lead Major League Baseball All-Star voting, behind other 24-year-olds Darryl Strawberry (1986) and Hall of Famers Johnny Bench (1972) and Ken Griffey Jr. (1994). The 2015 National League MVP, Harper entered play on Sunday ranked among National League hitters in on-base percentage (3rd, .422), OPS (3rd, .997), runs scored (3rd, 61), slugging percentage (5th, .576), RBI (7th, 58) and batting average (8th, .313).

Zimmerman returns to the All-Star game for the first time since 2009, when he was the Nationals’ lone representative. In what was a career year for the then-24-year-old third baseman, Zimmerman hit .288 with 14 home runs, 22 doubles, 37 walks and 52 RBI for a club that was 25-60 through its first 85 games. This season, Zimmerman has paced the Nationals in almost every offensive category - often times pacing the Major Leagues in them as well - and enters Sunday’s game ranking in MLB in batting average (2nd, .335), RBI (T3rd, 62), slugging percentage (4th, .619), and multi-hit games (T7th, 29). He has hit 19 home runs and his 22 doubles are second on the club. The now 32-year-old first baseman is enjoying a career year, eight years after his first, and was voted into the game with 2,103,142 votes - edging Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo.

Zimmerman is the first Nationals first baseman to earn a fan election, and the second in franchise history, joining Montreal’s Al Oliver (1983).

For Murphy, a runner up in the 2016 National League MVP vote, this is the third All-Star selection of his career (also 2014 & 2016). This is the first All-Star Game start of Murphy’s career as he earned 3,925,418 votes in the fan balloting. The Nationals’ second baseman entered play on Sunday ranked in the National League in batting average (3rd, .334), hits (3rd, 100), doubles (3rd, 24), multi-hit games (T5th, 20), slugging percentage (8th, .569), and on-base percentage (10th, .387). He paces National League second basemen in nearly every offensive category, including homers (14), RBI (55), and slugging percentage (.569), among others. Murphy is the first Nationals second baseman to draw a fan-elected start, and the second in franchise history, joining Montreal’s Jose Vidro (2002).

This is the fifth consecutive All-Star selection for Scherzer, the 2016 National League Cy Young Award winner, three of which have been with the Nationals. On the heels of the season that brought him the second Cy Young of his career, Scherzer has been terrific in the 2017 season’s first half. He enters his start Sunday night leading Major League Baseball in ERA (2.06), WHIP (0.78), opp. average (.164), opp. OBP (.227), opp. SLG (.292), opp. OPS (.520), and hits allowed per nine innings (5.15). He leads the National League in strikeouts (151), strikeouts per nine innings (11.96) and is third in strikeout-to-walk ratio (6.29).

For Strasburg, the All-Star nod is the third of his career (also 2012 & 2016). Through his first 16 starts of the season, Strasburg is 9-2 with a 3.51 ERA. He has 122 strikeouts, good for sixth in the National League, while his 10.69 strikeouts per nine innings is good for fourth in the NL. He also ranks in the NL in strikeout-to-walk ratio (6th, 4.36), WHIP (6th, 1.10) and walks per nine innings (10th, 2.45). His .818 winning percentage ranks third in the National League and as a team, the Nationals are 12-4 in his 16 starts in 2017.

Rendon leads National League third basemen in slugging percentage (.555) and on-base percentage (.399), and according to FanGraphs.com, he leads all Major League third basemen in wins above replacement (3.4). Through the season’s first 81 games, he is hitting .298 with 18 doubles, one triple, 16 homers, 50 RBI, 44 walks and 43 runs scored. Since the 2016 All-Star break, Rendon ranks fourth in the National League and tied for seventh in Major League Baseball with 102 RBI in 143 games.

The 2017 Major League All-Star Game will take place at Marlins Park in Miami, Fla., on Tuesday, July 11.