All-Star focus now turns to Iglesias, J.D. Martinez
While injured Miguel Cabrera enjoyed a late surge of fan votes to run away with another All-Star starting nod (albeit one he won’t be able to use), J.D. Martinez’s surge at the plate came too late to help him much in All-Star voting. With 10 home runs in his last 12 games, including a solo shot Sunday afternoon, he might have hit his hot stretch just in time to earn him the player vote for his first All-Star selection, less than a year and a half after he was released and looking for a team.
“It would be awesome, obviously,” Martinez said. “It would mean a lot. Just for myself, it’s something I always dreamed about making. We’ll see what happens with it. But if it does happen, it’s a blessing from God.”
While Cabrera’s All-Star status was revealed Sunday night, the Tigers will wait until Monday night — when All-Star reserves and pitchers are announced — to figure out who will have a chance to play in the Midsummer Classic, including David Price and Yoenis Cespedes. Few will watch it more closely than Martinez and Jose Iglesias.
Both are looking for their first selections after breakout seasons. Neither stood much of a chance in fan balloting, but both have received an increasing amount of respect from players who determine most of the reserve spots.
“It’s something that not just me, but every baseball player who plays wants to be a part of it,” Iglesias said. “It’s a pretty special moment that you can share with the family and friends. It’s like an award for yourself. You represent your team. You represent your organization.”
Despite missing all of last season with stress fractures in both shins, Iglesias has established himself among the best shortstops in the American League. He finished second to Kansas City’s Alcides Escobar in fan balloting.
“The positive thing about it is missing a full year last year with stress fractures and now how the fans and the people appreciate my job out there,” he said. “I was really happy to finish second, just for the fans to take their time and think about it and vote for me.”
Martinez’s surge, meanwhile, has vaulted him to second in the American League with 23 home runs, one behind Albert Pujols. More than half of those have come in the last three weeks. He was never in the running in fan balloting, finishing a distant eighth among AL outfielders, but the player vote performance could prove differently.
“If you look at all the [leading] vote-getters, I think the guys really got hot in the first two months,” Martinez said. “I think when they handed out the votes, my numbers were good but they weren’t as good. It’s all right either way. It’s out of my control.”
If he makes the All-Star team, he left the door open for taking part in the Home Run Derby.
“I think I’m kind of with Cespedes on it. It would all kind of have to depend on making the team,” he said. “You don’t want to go up there and just be in the Derby, not be on the team. It’s kind of like, ‘OK, do the Derby and get out of here.'”
On the fear that a Derby participation would mess his swing, Martinez said, “I think that if you try to change your swing for it and you’re really trying to pull the ball and hit the ball like that, I think definitely it can get in your head. I don’t think that, if I were to do it, that I would really try to change much about my BP. I would just go out there and have a normal BP.”