Justin Verlander, Yordan Alvarez, Kyle Tucker, Framber Valdez to All-Star Game

OAKLAND — Starting second baseman Jose Altuve and manager Dusty Baker will be joined by some familiar faces in the American League dugout at the All-Star Game on July 19, as four Astros were added to the reserve squad.

Verlander, 39, leads the American League with 11 wins, and his 2.00 ERA follows only Tampa Bay’s Shane McClanahan (1.73 ERA). Verlander was a workhorse in his return season after missing all of 2021 while recovering from Tommy John surgery, pitching at least seven innings in eight of his 16 starts and scoring 12 quality starts.

“It means a lot,” Verlander said. “A lot of things in this first half have put some things in perspective, kind of a reminder of all the hard work that went into getting me here, getting me back here. To be recognized by my peers and selected it is a great honor.”

Perhaps no All-Star was more certain than Alvarez, who has positioned himself as an early MVP candidate. He came in on Sunday and led the Majors in OPS (1,058), slugging percentage (.653) and at bats per home run (10.31). Alvarez was a finalist to start as a designated batter, but was eventually eliminated, 52% to 48%, by Shohei Ohtani of the Angels.

“It’s a huge honor for him, such a young player, to finish second to Shohei,” Baker said after the All-Star Game starters were announced on Friday.

“I’m super happy for [Alvarez and Valdez]’ said Tucker. “They certainly deserved it. They’ve had phenomenal years and have worked their whole lives for this.”

After a breakout season in 2021, Tucker is putting together a solid 2022 by beating .259/.351/.478 with 16 home runs coming into play on Sunday. Tucker’s 58 RBIs are second to Aaron Judge (65) among AL outfielders, and his 14 steals rank fifth in the league. He was also a key defender for Houston, according to Fangraphs, as his 10 defensive runs saved this season are for the most part equal to Tampa Bay’s Brett Phillips by an AL outfielder.

Valdez, who has emerged as one of the best left-handed starters in baseball, concludes the Astros quintet heading to Los Angeles. Valdez has gone 8-4 this season with a 2.64 ERA from 17 starts, currently stringing 14 consecutive quality starts. He couldn’t help but smile as he discussed how he would make his first All-Star team.

“I just worked really hard for this,” Valdez said through interpreter Jenloy Herrera. “I’ve tried to work tirelessly for this, trying to focus a lot more on the game and just trying to have quality outings every time I went out, so today I could be an All-Star.”

Houston’s five All-Stars will be in good company as Baker and his staff lead the AL squad at Dodger Stadium. It’s a special opportunity, Baker said, to manage his own players and some of the best players in the league at this prestigious event.

“I looked at that list, and phew, they have a few bad guys on that list,” Baker said. “I am honored to lead, and we are on the same side, as… [just] for one day.”

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