The Padres getting four Padres to the All-Star Game is yet another sign of the bright, new era of baseball in San Diego.
When the Padres signed Manny Machado ahead of the 2019 season, it signaled times were about to be different around the Gaslamp Quarter.
Despite the record in 2019, it was clear that giant steps were imminent for this team as a core group. The franchise checked off several milestones in the last two seasons. The Friars ended their postseason drought in 2020, even winning their first playoff series since 1998.
Slam Diego became a thing.
Now, in 2021, they have made yet another statement. The Friars long struggled to gain and maintain the national spotlight- mostly because they struggled to gain and maintain star players. Now some of the game’s biggest stars don the brown and gold.
There is a legitimate argument that Tatis is the face of baseball. The fan voting campaign to determine the starters of next week’s All-Star Game in Denver further validated his standing among the most popular in the game. Not only did Tatis win the starting nod among National League shortstops, he won in one of the biggest landslides in the league. With 64 percent of the vote, crushing the Cubs’ Javy Baez and San Francisco’s Brandon Crawford, Tatis owned the second-largest margin among the starters. Only Toronto’s Vlad Guerrero Jr. had a larger disparity from his contenders.
Tatis, along with many of the Padres’ staff and fans, voiced their displeasure that none of the other deserving Friars made the top three in fan voting, namely second baseman Jake Cronenworth. That wrong was made right on Sunday when Major League Baseball announced Cronenworth would be joining his double-play mate, Tatis, in Denver, for his first career All-Star selection. He certainly deserves it, ranking fifth in bWAR (3.4) among National League position players and first among second basemen.
He built on his strong 2020 campaign and is posting impressive numbers, with a .278 average, 12 home runs, .815 OPS, and 131 OPS+.
On the pitching side, ace Yu Darvish and closer Mark Melancon also got the nod. Darvish owns a 2.65 ERA and 138 ERA+ and is seventh in the NL in strikeouts with 123. Melancon leads the entire major leagues with 25 saves, four better than the next best closer.
This is the most all-stars San Diego sent to the Midsummer Classic since 1998, which is the last time they made it to the World Series. This squad has just as lofty of goals as that group 23 years ago. For the first time since 2001, they are sending two hitters to the game (Ryan Klesko and Phil Nevin). Never, in San Diego’s history, have two middle infielders been selected to the same All-Star Game until 2021.
Between 2020 and this year, this group of Friars have achieved a lot that no other San Diego group has since 1998 or even farther back. Getting four players to the All-Star Game is yet another sign that things are different in San Diego, and the league has taken notice.