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/ndikOTIJyDpic.twitter.com/Ivv3JBiHxs
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.
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.
While his father was in attendance, all Nick could focus on was the game.
“I actually didn’t see him,” he told MLB.com. “I didn’t see him the entire game. I’m not really sure where he was sitting at. That’s usually not too hard to find. I usually find him. But I was kind of focused today. Kind of got on the field and really didn’t look up too much.”
Tom Gordon was excited to have the opportunity to watch his son play in an MLB game and it certainly won’t be the last time he attends a game.
“I want every ball he hits out of the park,” Tom Gordon said. “I want every ball to be hit hard. He sure better not make an error, because then I’m fussing about that. I think that comes with it. As much as I love it, I appreciate it.
“At the same time, I appreciate how much his teammates and friends and family, everybody that’s here, love him.”
When Nick hit his first home run, he didn’t know if it was going to go out or not. One thing he did know was that he got a good swing on the ball.
Hitting your first major league home run is a tremendous accomplishment, and it only took Gordon five games to hit his first.
“I wasn’t expecting to hit a homer,” he said. “I definitely didn’t off the bat think it was going to go that far. I just thought I got it pretty good and I looked up and it was gone. It felt pretty good.”
The 25-year-old has definitely given the Twins’ coaching staff multiple reasons to keep him in the lineup.
Speed kills, and for Nick, it works to his advantage. On the base path, he’s definitely a threat and can cause problems for defenses. He has five stolen bases on the season and that number will continue to increase as the season progresses.
The Twins can utilize him in the infield and outfield, and with his legs, he can track balls down in the outfield and take away hits.
If he keeps playing the way he has been playing this month, he will continue to see the field and have opportunities to become a player the Twins can use on a consistent basis.
Byron Buxton is set to begin his rehab stint in Triple-A St. Paul with the hopes of returning to the Big League club this weekend. Buxton has been seen running at 100 percent. If all goes well, he should return to the Twins’ lineup for their weekend series in Minnesota against Michael Brantley and the Houston Astros.
He will look to reclaim the starting job in centerfield for the American League All-Star team and put his name back in the conversation for Most Valuable Player.
Buxton came out the gate throwing harder haymakers than Ali to begin this season. It seemed he had finally put all five tools together as he hit .370 with nine home runs, 17 RBI and five stolen bases in his first 24 games of the year.
In April, he was awarded the AL Player of the Month Award after batting .426 with a .466 On Base Percentage, eight home runs, 14 RBI, 15 Runs Scored and three steals. He also set Twins’ franchise records for March and April in batting average, slugging percentage and OPS.
His defensive play in centerfield had him on his way to winning the first Gold Glove of his career. On May 6, Buxton hit a grounder to the shortstop in the late innings of what would end up being a loss to the Texas Rangers.
Buxton has always been a hustler as he has beaten out multiple routine plays throughout his career.
This time as Buxton crossed first base it was apparent something was wrong. He did not return to the game and ended up having a Grade 2 right hip strain, which put him on the Injured List for the last 30 games.
His absence has truly shown how valuable Buxton truly is to Minnesota. Buxton had a Wins Above Replacement rating of 2.7 before his injury, good for third in MLB. Marcus Semien, who won the AL Player of the Month for May, is tied with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for first in the American League with a WAR of 3.1.
The Twins were sitting in first before Buxton went down and since then are 13-17 and have fallen into last place, 12 games behind the first-place White Sox in the AL Central.
Buxton is returning just in time to have his name in conversations to be at this year’s All-Star Game next month in Denver. Fan voting determines the starting lineup for each division while the managers decide on the rest of the rosters.
I believe the fans will handle their business and vote Buxton as the centerfield starter despite him missing time with a few injuries this season.
The All-Star Game is a collection of the greatest talent in the sport, and fans will be cheated if they are not able to see Buxton chase down balls in centerfield while hitting home runs out of the launching pad that is Coors Field.
Some of MLB’s best Black Knights have been sidelined with injuries, robbing the fans of some sensational contributions to the game. MVP candidate Byron Buxton, Toronto’s $125 million man George Springer and Black Ace David Price are just a few of the leading MLBbros that have been regulated to the bench due to injury.