After some rough years, MLB may be on the verge of reversing a troubling trend.
When Major League Baseball announced its finalists for the second round of voting, only six Black players made the cut, and five of those came from the American League.
Thats six out of 51.
2B – Marcus Semien, Toronto Blue Jays
OF – Aaron Judge, New York Yankees; Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins; Michael Brantley, Houston Astros; Cedric Mullins, Baltimore Orioles
OF – Mookie Betts, Los Angeles Dodgers
No more than 6 Black American players have made an All-Star game since 2015, with a low of 4 in both ‘16 & ‘19. This season could be different as a new generation of stars is starting to find its way. Check out the MLBbro All-Star update from @DMGrubb on https://t.co/ndikOTIJyD pic.twitter.com/Ivv3JBiHxs
— MLBbro.com (@MLBbrodotcom) June 30, 2021
Semien is the only player who is currently the leading vote-getter at his position, while Judge, Buxton, and Brantley sit second through fourth in the AL outfield voting.
That being said, at least four of those six should have their names called when the starting lineups are announced this Thursday night, with those who miss out likely being named as reserves.
Counting position players only, there’s been an average of just over six Black All-Stars per year since the 2011 season.
Things looked great at the start of the decade with nine players making appearances in the the Midsummer Classic.
However, since the retirement of some perennial all-stars like Derek Jeter, Torii Hunter, and Prince Fielder, the numbers have started to trail off.
There haven’t been more than six Black American players in any All-Star game since 2015, with a low of four in both 2016 and 2019.
This season could be different as a new generation of stars is starting to find its way into the stratosphere.
We’ve seen breakout performances from a number of players who, if they don’t make the team this season, should in the near future.
Semien, Buxton, and Mullins would all be deserving first-time selections.
In an offseason where the Toronto Blue Jays acquired three-time all-star George Springer, it’s been Marcus Semien who has been the most impactful newcomer to the Jays’ lineup.
With Springer limited to 32 at-bats in 2021, Semien has been Toronto’s second-best player all season long. Batting .281 with 18 home runs, 45 RBI, and 37 extra base hits, he ranks first among AL second basemen in hits (87), doubles (18), homeruns (18), RBI (45), and slugging percentage (.519). He’s also second in both runs scored and OPS.
For Buxton, the fan vote will likely have to come through in order for him to be selected. Due to injuries, the Minnesota Twins outfielder has been limited to 27 games.
In those 27 games Buxton has been brilliant.
Over just 103 at-bats, “Buck” has been slashing like Kordell Stewart, putting up a .369/.409/.767 stat line, with 10 home runs. Nelson Cruz leads the Twins with 17, in 131 more ABs. Buxton still remains tied for second on the team with 11 doubles and ranks fifth in total bases.
With Cruz having another outstanding season at the age of 40, Buxton probably won’t get a nod as a reserve, so stuffing the ballot box looks like a must.
Like Buxton, Cedric Mullins has put it all together in 2021, but unlike him, Mullins has been available day-in and day-out for the Baltimore Orioles.
— MLBbro.com (@MLBbrodotcom) June 30, 2021
In what has so far been a forgettable 2021 season, Mullins has been one of the lone bright spots for the O’s.
He’s flourished in his role as Baltimore’s leadoff man and has played Gold Glove-caliber defense in center field.
His .315 batting average is 50 points higher than his career mark, and he’s posting highs in on-base percentage (.383), slugging (.537), and OPS (.920).
Among AL outfielders, he ranks in the top ten in batting average, runs (43), doubles (21), triples (3), home runs (13), and walks (30), while leading them all with 94 base hits and 14 stolen bases. Throw in the fact that he’s doing it for the offense with the second worst production in the league, and Mullins could be considered an MVP candidate if Baltimore were winning.
If he isn’t in Colorado, we riot.
Other newcomers like Tony Kemp of the Oakland A’s, LaMonte Wade across the bay in San Francisco, Bobby Bradley of the Cleveland Indians, Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes, Daz Cameron and Akil Baddoo in Detroit, Seattle’s Shed Long Jr. and JP Crawford, Trent Grisham and Tommy Pham in San Diego, and so on, are also coming.
— MLBbro.com (@MLBbrodotcom) July 1, 2021
For the last few years it looked like baseball’s well of Black and brown talent was drying up.
This season, the efforts of so many organizations and players are starting to bear fruit as another generation of ballplayers tries to make a name for itself.
All-Stars or not, they’ve earned our attention and the prospects for the game of baseball thriving once more in the Black community look better with each highlight one of them produces.