The Pittsburgh Pirates had four players named to the 84th All-Star Game at New York’s Citi Field, the franchise’s most since having four selected in 1981. The Bucs will be represented by two hitters and two pitchers, with three of the players making their first All-Star team.
Outfielder Andrew McCutchen earns his third-straight All-Star spot as a National League reserve outfielder. McCutchen entered Saturday ranked fourth among all NL hitters in Wins Above Replacement, combining his offensive abilities (4th among NL outfielders in OBP) with strong baserunning (18-23 stolen bases) and continued solid fielding in center coming off last season’s Gold Glove campaign. At 26 years old, McCutchen is already becoming a staple of the Midsummer Classic.
Third baseman Pedro Alvarez powered his way to an All-Star debut with his 22 home runs tied for second in the National League. Alvarez, 26, entered Saturday with a career-high .507 slugging percentage, second among NL third basemen behind All-Star starter David Wright. Alvarez was born in the Dominican Republic but grew up in New York City. With a pace that has Alvarez on the way to 40 homers this season, expect the left-handed slugger to compete in next Monday’s Home Run Derby in front of a hometown crowd at Citi Field.
Starting pitcher Jeff Locke also earns his first All-Star bid in his first full Major League season. Locke’s ability to prevent runs has been a revelation, as he trails only the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw with a 2.12 earned run average among starting pitchers. The young lefty is 8-1 on the year and is 9th among NL starters in holding opponents to a .206 batting average. Locke, 25, has been the only Pirates pitcher to make every start in his rotation and is unlikely to pitch in the All-Star Game if his schedule has him pitching in Pittsburgh next Sunday.
Closer Jason Grilli makes his first All-Star Game in his 11th Major League season. It has been a true odyssey for Grilli, from No. 4 overall draft pick to fringy starter to now the shutdown reliever for the first time at age 36. The Pirates are Grilli’s seventh MLB team, and they are benefitting from his most successful season. He leads the National League with 28 saves, has the NL’s second-highest strikeout rate for relief pitchers and a league-best 1.21 FIP.
Other candidates who did not make the team include outfielder Starling Marte, catcher Russell Martin and setup reliever Mark Melancon. The players will have to wait to see if a spot opens up due to injury.