SAN DIEGO — The Giants will have a player start the MLB All-Star Game for the first time in four years.
Joc Pederson was named one of the National League’s starting outfielders Friday, receiving 30% of the vote in a run-off as part of a new voting format introduced this season. He’ll start alongside Atlanta’s Ronald Acuña Jr., the NL’s top overall vote-getter, and the Dodgers’ Mookie Betts, who received 37% in a four-way runoff that included Starling Marte and Adam Duvall.
The All-Star nod is the second of Pederson’s career, after being voted in as a starter in 2015 during his first full MLB season. He’ll return to the stadium where he spent the first seven years of his career, with Dodger Stadium playing host to this year’s All-Star Game.
From 2015-18, the Giants had at least one All-Star starter — the result of fan voting — but have gone the past four seasons without one. Buster Posey won the fan vote at catcher last season but was injured and didn’t participate.
Despite signing a relatively minor one-year, $6 million free-agent contract this offseason, Pederson has been the most consistent force in San Francisco’s lineup. His 17 home runs are nearly double the next-closest player (Wilmer Flores, 9), and he also leads the team in OPS (.882). Pederson’s .264 batting average ranks behind only Luis González, and his 41 RBIs are tied with Flores for the team lead.
Nobody in the majors has hit the ball as hard as Pederson, who leads all batters with an average exit velocity of 94.0 mph. As a result of the Giants’ platoon strategy, Pederson doesn’t qualify for the league leaders, but it makes his power show this season all the more impressive: his 12.71 at-bats per home run ranks second in MLB.
Overall, Pederson ranks 11th in OPS, fifth in slugging percentage and is tied for ninth in home runs, despite only 244 plate appearances.
The Giants’ $6 million investment in Pederson will go down as one of the top signings of the offseason. Their other major splash, Carlos Rodón (two years, $44 million), also has a strong case to join Pederson at Dodger Stadium. Rodón’s 2.89 ERA ranks ninth in the NL, while rotation mate Logan Webb is 12th, at 2.98.
Pitchers and the remaining position players, determined by voting among fellow players, will be announced Sunday during the All-Star selection show (2:30 p.m. PT, ESPN).
The 92nd midsummer classic takes place Sunday, July 19, at Dodger Stadium (5:30 p.m. PT, ESPN).
Contributed by local news sources