Shohei Ohtani achieved a first in the near century history of baseball’s All-Star Game: selection as both a hitter and pitcher.
The Los Angeles Angels’ two-way sensation was among the American League starting pitchers picked Sunday for the July 13 showcase at Denver’s Coors Field. Ohtani, who leads the majors in home runs, had already been elected by fans to start as the AL’s designated hitter.
Boston has the most All-Stars for the first time since 2009, sending five. Designated hitter J.D. Martinez, starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi and reliever Matt Barnes were chosen to join a pair of starters: shortstop Xander Bogaerts and third baseman Rafael Devers.
Houston and Toronto have four All-Stars each.
Ohtani received 121 votes in balloting by players, managers and coaches announced three days after fan-elected starters were revealed.
“The guy’s going to participate in Home Run Derby, pitch in the game and hit in the game. That doesn’t happen like, ever,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said after speaking with AL skipper Kevin Cash of Tampa Bay. “So this is the one time … even the non-baseball fan can really latch onto this and become interested.”
Babe Ruth’s pitching days were largely behind him by the time the All-Star Game started in 1933. Ruth made one pitching appearance that year, the final one of his career on the last day of the season. He last pitched with regularity in 1919.
Ohtani is hitting .278 with 31 home runs and 67 RBIs. In 12 starts on the mound, he is 3-1 with a 3.60 ERA and 83 strikeouts over 60 innings.
The Angels did not make Ohtani available to media Sunday, and Major League Baseball has not reopened clubhouses to reporters since the start of the pandemic.
The team issued quotes from Ohtani in which he said: “It’s my first time so I just want to enjoy everything. There’s also the Home Run Derby, so I’m looking forward to taking it all in and enjoy everything.”
The right-hander was joined by fellow AL starting pitchers Gerrit Cole of the New York Yankees (272 votes), and Lance Lynn (199) and Carlos Rodón (192) of the Chicago White Sox.
Cleveland’s Shane Bieber (189) also was elected but is hurt and will miss the game along with Angels outfielder Mike Trout, who was elected by fans to start, and Washington outfielder Kyle Schwarber, who was picked as a reserve.
Mets ace Jacob deGrom, who has a historically low ERA of 0.95, led NL starting pitchers with 321 votes, followed by San Francisco’s Kevin Gausman (210), Milwaukee’s Corbin Burnes (153) and Brandon Woodruff (146), and San Diego’s Yu Darvish (105).
“I’m supposed to throw Sunday, so for me I don’t think it’s smart to go pitch in the All-Star Game,” deGrom said. “I’ve been a little beat up this first half and obviously missed a few starts which I wish I wouldn’t have missed, so I don’t think it makes sense for me to throw in it.”
The Yankees’ struggling Aroldis Chapman (160), Chicago’s Liam Hendriks (159) and Barnes (117) are the AL relievers, and Chicago’s Craig Kimbrel (208), Milwaukee’s Josh Hader (191) and San Diego’s Mark Melancon (107) are in the NL bullpen.
Tampa Bay catcher Mike Zunino was elected as an AL reserve along with Oakland first baseman Matt Olson, Houston second baseman José Altuve and shortstop Carlos Correa, Cleveland third baseman Jose Ramirez and outfielders Cedric Mullins of Baltimore, Michael Brantley of the Astros and Adolis Garcia of Texas.
Major League Baseball’s picks, which ensure at least one player from each team participates, included five pitchers — Eovaldi, Texas’ Kyle Gibson, Seattle’s Yusei Kikuchi, Houston’s Ryan Pressly and Detroit’s Gregory Soto, plus Toronto shortstop Bo Bichette, Minnesota DH Nelson Cruz, Texas outfielder Joey Gallo and Angels first baseman Jared Walsh.
Philadelphia catcher J.T. Realmuto was elected as a reserve along with Dodgers first baseman Max Muncy, San Diego second baseman Jake Cronenworth, Washington shortstop Trea Turner, Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, Los Angeles outfielder Mookie Betts and Pittsburgh outfielder Bryan Reynolds.
MLB added pitchers German Márquez of the host Rockies along with St. Louis’ Alex Reyes, Miami’s Trevor Rogers and Philadelphia’s Zack Wheeler, plus Atlanta second baseman Ozzie Albies, San Francisco shortstop Brandon Crawford, Arizona infielder Eduardo Escobar, Washington outfielder Juan Soto and Dodgers outfielder Chris Taylor.
Garcia and Rogers are the only rookies among 34 first-time All-Stars. Toronto first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is the youngest player at 22 years, 3 1/2 months, just ahead of San Diego shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. at 22 years, 6 months and Juan Soto at 22 years, 8 months.
Players born outside the 50 states include seven from the Dominican Republic, five from Venezuela, three from Japan, two from Cuba, and one each from Aruba, Australia, Canada, Curaçao and Puerto Rico.