The Seattle Mariners have three American League All-Stars for 2018.
Closer Edwin Diaz, outfielder Mitch Haniger and designated hitter Nelson Cruz were each selected as reserves for the MLB All-Star game, which will take place July 17 at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.
Starting pitcher James Paxton and shortstop Jean Segura, however, were not selected.
Segura still has a shot to reach the All-Star Game for the second time in his career and first with the Mariners. He is one of five players in the American League to get a spot as a Final Vote candidate, alongside the Red Sox’s Andrew Benintendi, the Angels’ Andrelton Simmons, the Twins’ Eddie Rosario and the Yankees’ Giancarlo Stanton.
"I certainly hope our fans step up,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “People around the Pacific Northwest put your votes in because Jean really deserves to go."
Diaz leads the major leagues in saves. By a lot. He picked up his 35th of the season – one more than he had all of last year – in the Mariners’ 6-4 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Sunday, striking out the side in the ninth.
“It’s been a dream because as a little kid I was watching the All-Star Game, and now I’m here,” Diaz said. “I know how hard I worked for that. I worked too hard not to be there.”
The Mariners are 43-0 when Diaz enters the game with a lead this season.
Diaz and Servais made a bet earlier this year that if Diaz gets 50 saves this season, Servais will get the waves cut into the side of his hair like Diaz has.He’s only 15 away with the second half of the season still to play.
“It’s really going to be rough, that haircut,” Servais said. “And I can’t wait.
“I’m the only one. My wife and family, not so much. But I think it’s going to be fun. We’re having a lot of fun with it.”
Cruz is in the All-Star Game for the sixth time in his career, one year after his selfie at home plate with Joe West during the game. He’s hit 22 home runs and is batting .267, though he’s turned it on after a slow start to the season because of injuries, including one stint on the 10-day disabled list.
Cruz turned down an invitation to compete in the MLB Home Run Derby, but he’ll be in the All-Star Game for the fifth time in the past six seasons.
He didn’t confirm if he’s planning another mid-game selfie.
“I’m going to enjoy it,” Cruz smiled. “That’s it.”
Then there’s Haniger. Like Diaz, he’ll be a first-time All-Star. Haniger is one year removed from his rookie season and he’s hitting .271 with 17 home runs and he entered Sunday tied for second in the American League in RBI (62) behind J.D. Martinez’s 74 RBI.
“That’s going to be a cool experience,” Haniger said. “I’m just trying to focus on this last week, though, before we head there. We got a lot of ground to make up. Winning these meaningful games in July will hopefully make the All-Star break a lot easier. Then I can focus on the All-Star Game and try to soak it in.”
Haniger also leads the majors with 13 game-winning RBI and 11 home runs in the seventh inning or later.
"Haniger is our champion," Mariners first baseman Ryon Healy said. "He's unbelievable every single day."
This is the Mariners’ most All-Star selections since 2011, when they had Felix Hernandez, Michael Pineda and Brandon League.
The snubs were clearly Segura and Paxton.
Segura is hitting .330, which was the third-best batting average in the American League. He’s also been much-improved defensively and possibly the MVP of the Mariners’ season through the first 91 games. Their shortstop is second in the AL with 115 hits, behind reigning MVP Jose Altuve (122).
Paxton threw a no-hitter two months ago in Toronto against the Blue Jays. He entered Sunday tied for fifth in the AL in strikeouts (154) alongside Justin Verlander of the Astros.
Paxton is 8-3 with a 3.49 ERA in 19 starts this season. He also set a career-high with 16 strikeouts in a May start against the Angels.
“I go back to the no-hitter he had in Toronto and what that did for our team as far as energizing the club,” Servais said. “He’s a top-of-the-rotation guy. He’s the horse that has really carried our starting rotation.
“Pax and Jean not getting in, it’s tough. But there’s a lot of good players in the league and I explained that to the guys and they get it.”