The All-Stars — starters and reserves — will be announced starting at noon Sunday on TBS.
And, no doubt, several Tigers are eager to learn whether they’ll be heading to Phoenix the following week, or traveling home to spend time with family.
Here’s how I see the Tigers’ fates shaking out:
ALEX AVILA, C
Obviously, Avila, in his second full season in the majors, deserves to start. But I can’t imagine he’ll have made up more than 400,000 votes in the last three days of voting to overtake Yankee Russell Martin. Avila (.303, 10 homers, 46 RBIs) is a lock to make the ballclub as a reserve, though.
JUSTIN VERLANDER, SP
Far and away, the most dominating pitcher in the American League this season — thanks to a perfect June, during which he went 6-0 with a 0.92 ERA and a 9-to-1 strikeout-walk ratio (amazingly, Phillies ace Cliff Lee was even better last month — 5-0, 0.21 ERA). Verlander would be the obvious pick to start the game for Rangers manager Ron Washington, but because he’s set to pitch Sunday before the All-Star Game, he’ll likely be attending just to take part in the festivities.
JHONNY PERALTA, SS
The nine-year veteran never has made an All-Star team. That’s gonna change. He’s proved the ultimate steal for Dave Dombrowski — who acquired him from the Indians last summer for a minor league pitcher — and all he’s done is impress from the day he put on a Tigers uniform (he homered twice in his debut). This season, he’s hitting .313, with the same number of home runs and RBIs (13-47) as the guy who replaced him in Cleveland, Asdrubal Cabrera. Both are going to Phoenix, to back up lackluster Derek Jeter.
MIGUEL CABRERA, 1B
Tough to really gauge his chances. Boston’s Adrian Gonzalez is gonna start, and rightfully so. Chicago’s Paul Konerko is having another amazing season, as he continues to defy age. And New York’s Mark Teixeira has hit a ton of home runs. Cabrera is having another good season — hitting .332 with 17 homers and 56 RBIs — but has gone about in quiet fashion for a team with a handful of .300 hitters. He’ll probably make the team, and also is quite likely to be on David Ortiz’s squad in the Home Run Derby.
VICTOR MARTINEZ, C/DH
All Martinez has done is basically stick his tongue out to the fans who were crying for Adam Dunn last offseason. Martinez has proved the perfect protection for Miguel Cabrera, hitting .320 with six homers and 46 RBIs — after a super slow start, and a stint on the DL. He routinely makes pitchers pay for walking Cabrera. (Dunn, of course, has been a complete flop with the White Sox, hitting .171.) Not every Tiger’s gonna make it, so Martinez could be an unlucky snub. I see him being on The Final Vote ballot.
JOSE VALVERDE, RP
As much of a rollercoaster he can be in the ninth inning — although he’s no Todd Jones or Fernando Rodney in that regard — Valverde hasn’t blown a save, posting a perfect 19-for-19. His ERA is a bit high compared to other dominant closers, at 2.36, and he’s wild, and remarkably hittable in non-save situations. So he’s no slam dunk to make the AL team, especially considering all the teammates who’re getting consideration first. Here’s how I see this playing out: Verlander, mid-week, will have to come off the roster — cuz he’s ineligible to pitch after starting Sunday — and Valverde, as his teammate, will be the perfect replacement.
BRENNAN BOESCH, OF
There’s absolutely no chatter about this fella, despite his .302 average, 10 home runs and 38 RBIs. Probably cuz there are simply so many quality outfielders to choose from. Maybe next year, kid.
AL ALBURQUERQUE, RP
All those strikeouts — an absurd 14.6 per nine innings — at least put him in the conversation, but he always was a long shot. And now that he’s on the DL with a forearm issue, he’s got no shot.
The Tigers’ record for All-Star representation, no surprise, is six in 1984 — when Willie Hernandez, Chet Lemon, Jack Morris, Lance Parrish, Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker all went.
Cabrera and Valverde went last season.