Major League Baseball announced Sunday that Josh Bell will represent the Pittsburgh Pirates and the National League at the All-Star Game in Cleveland on July 9. Bell also accepted an invitation to participate in the Home Run Derby on July 8.
The 26-year-old Bell became the first Pirates first baseman to be named to the All-Star team since Jason Thompson in 1982. Bell entered Sunday leading all of Major League Baseball in both RBIs (70) and extra base hits (54).
His 54 extra base hits through the team’s first 81 games this season are tied for the most by a National League player since Colorado’s Todd Helton had 54 in 2001. It’s also the most-ever extra base hits by a Pirate through the team’s first 81 games (prior to Bell, the most was 52 by Kiki Cuyler in 1925).
Bell’s 54 extra base hits coming into Sunday are also just one shy of tying Nate McLouth in 2008 for the club record of 55 prior to the All-Star break. Bell’s 70 RBIs are the fourth-most in club history prior to the All-Star break behind Willie Stargell (87 in 1971 and 75 in 1973) and Brian Giles (72 in 2000).
The Pirates' 2011 second-round pick's 22 home runs prior to the All-Star break are the most-ever by a Pirates switch hitter and the most by any National League switch hitter since St. Louis’ Lance Berkman hit 24 in 2011.
Houston’s Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and four of their Astros teammates will lead the American League squad. Major League Baseball unveiled full rosters for the midsummer showcase Sunday, and Houston topped all big league clubs with six players. No other AL team has more than three.
Alex Bregman, George Springer and Michael Brantley will be in the starting lineup, and Verlander, Cole and Ryan Pressly are on the pitching staff.
The Dodgers, Brewers and Rockies lead the NL with four players each. The Los Angeles contingent includes Cody Bellinger, Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Walker Buehler – plenty of familiar faces for manager Dave Roberts.
Milwaukee will be represented by Christian Yelich, Mike Moustakas, Yasmani Grandal and Josh Hader.
Braves teammates Ronald Acuña Jr. and Mike Soroka are set to be this year’s youngest players at 21. Atlanta said it’s the first time two players under 22 from the same team made the All-Star team.
The NL team includes just three hitters in their 30s: Moustakas and Grandal are 30, and Charlie Blackmon will turn 33 on Monday. Depending on who serves as DH, the NL could have the youngest starting lineup in All-Star Game history.
The Yankees have the AL’s best record but boast just three All-Stars: Gary Sánchez, DJ LeMahieu and Aroldis Chapman.
Boston’s only representatives as of now are Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez.
Verlander earned his eighth All-Star nod, tied with Kershaw and Trout for most among this year’s participants.
The host Indians had three players selected: Carlos Santana, Francisco Lindor and Brad Hand. Santana, a 33-year-old first-time All-Star, will also swing in the Home Run Derby.
Six of the eight derby participants are known – Acuña, Santana, Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Yelich, the New York Mets’ Pete Alonso and Bell. Guerrero will be 20 years, 114 days old for the July 8 showcase, making him the youngest ever in the derby – 116 days younger than Ken Griffey Jr. in 1990.
The full field will be announced Wednesday. Rangers slugger Joey Gallo said Sunday he has not been asked to be in the derby, though he will be on the AL All-Star squad.
The rosters feature 31 first-time selections, including Anthony Rendon, who said he may not attend to rest some nagging injuries instead.
The starting position players were elected by fans and announced Thursday. The rest of the rosters were filled out by player balloting and the Commissioner’s Office.