The Minnesota Twins’ shortstop has put together a breakout season and will start for the American League in the MLB All-Star Game on July 9.
If there was a first half most valuable player award for the Minnesota Twins, you would be hard pressed to find reasons why Jorge Polanco wouldn’t be at the top of the list of candidates. Entering Thursday’s marathon with the Tampa Bay Rays, Polanco was third in the American League in batting average (.321) and ranked seventh in the AL in wins above replacement (3.8).
With Polanco also hitting 11 HR and driving in 39 RBI, he has made a major impact for the Twins while cementing himself as one of the top shortstops in baseball. That recognition has now expanded outside of Minnesota as Polanco won the MLB All-Star Starters Election and will start for the AL at shortstop in the MLB All-Star Game on July 9.
Polanco’s breakout season is vindication for both the Twins and the soon to be 26-year old. Last season, Polanco was slapped with an 80-game suspension for testing positive for PEDs and wasn’t able to make an impact for a team that looked to build off a playoff appearance in 2017.
Despite the suspension, the Twins opted to make a financial commitment anyway, signing Polanco to a seven-year, $25 million extension prior to spring training. That faith has paid off in what has been a tremendous season for Polanco and the Twins as he becomes the first Minnesota player to start an All-Star game since Joe Mauer started at catcher in 2013.
In order to start the Mid-Summer Classic, Polanco had to fend off New York’s Gleyber Torres and Houston’s Carlos Correa. Despite facing a rising superstar and a player in a monster market, Polanco would take home 42 percent of the vote to earn a spot in the American League lineup.
The other three Twins in the election didn’t have the same luck. C.J. Cron looked to start at first base, but with only 25 percent of the vote, he fell short to Cleveland’s Carlos Santana (49.2%) and New York’s Luke Voit (25.8%).
Nelson Cruz also earned 22 percent of the vote looking to become the AL’s designated hitter, but also finished third in the voting behind Texas’ Hunter Pence (46.7%) and Boston’s J.D. Martinez (31.2%).
Eddie Rosario also vied for a spot in the starting outfield, but finished sixth with 8.9 percent of the vote. Los Angeles’ Mike Trout (25.5%) and Houston’s George Springer (15.7%) and Michael Brantley (10.8%) wound up making up the AL outfield.
Although the Twins will have just one representative in the starting lineup, they’ll have a chance for more when the All-Star pitchers and reserves will be announced on Sunday evening.