Early All-Star thoughts…

My two cents on Selection Sunday:

1.  Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder are certainly deserving. Braun was the top vote-getter among National League outfielders for the second straight year, and Fielder was one of NL manager Charlie Manuel’s picks. That duo had 133 RBIs entering Sunday’s games, tops of any teammates in Major League Baseball.

2.  Fielder is also one of four first basemen on the NL squad (Albert Pujols, Adrian Gonzalez and Ryan Howard are the others) so it will be interesting to see how/if Manuel is able to get all of those guys into the game. Fielder is second in the Majors in RBIs, but might he be the low man on this impressive totem pole? Here’s why I suggest that:

  • Pujols won the fan vote and will start in front of his hometown fans in St. Louis.
  • Gonzalez made the cut via the player ballot, and that carries some weight.
  • Howard, of course, is a Phillie, and Manuel is his manager.

3.  It has been pretty clear for weeks that Braun would make the cut, so I asked him whether he would participate in the All-Star Home Run Derby for the second consecutive year. Remember that Braun developed some back problems last August that have been a bother from time to time this year.

“I would probably wait to see if I was even invited before I thought about it,” Braun said the other day. “I would want to see where I’m at, physically, before I committed. Having that extra day of rest would obviously be nice.

“But it was a lot of fun last year, I really enjoyed it. If I’m fortunate enough to be invited, I’ll cross that bridge then.”

Braun said he would consult with Brewers head athletic trainer Roger Caplinger before making his decision. He declined the notion that participating in last year’s Derby — he reached the semifinals — had anything to do with his physical woes later in the year.

Fielder took part in the event in 2007, and he finished third this year in a poll sponsored by State Farm Insurance that allowed fans to pick who they would like to see participate in the Derby. Pujols finished first, followed by Howard and then Fielder.

4.  Trevor Hoffman and Yovani Gallardo are having All-Star-type seasons, but missed the cut. Gallardo has the sixth-best ERA among qualifying NL pitchers (2.75) and is tied for fifth in the league with 114 strikeouts. Hoffman, a six-time All-Star, didn’t allow a run until his 18th Brewers appearance and is tied for eighth in the NL with 18 saves despite missing most of April with a rib-cage injury.

I asked Hoffman last week for his favorite All-Star memory.

“Probably when they named the All-Century team [in Boston in 1999],” he said. “I had a chance to go to Fenway Park when I was in high school and Glenn [his brother] was with the Red Sox and take ground balls and batting practice there. To me, that was kind of cool to go back there.”

Hoffman would have appreciated the opportunity to appear in a seventh Midsummer Classic.

“It’s a tremendous honor to be recognized in that regard,” he said.   

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