COMMENTARY | Believe it or not, there once was a time when the Major League Baseball All-Star Game was a showcase for the Cleveland Indians.
Fueled by sellout crowds at Jacobs Field to vote players in and rosters stocked with some of the best young talent in Major League Baseball, the Indians routinely sent large contingents to All-Star Games played in the late-1990s. Cleveland averaged a whopping five All-Stars per year between 1995 and 2001.
Unfortunately, in the last decade most All-Star Games have been a blink and you'll miss it affair for Indians fans hoping to see their hometown heroes play with the best. Due to low attendance, no Indians have been voted into the All-Star Game since 2001, a streak that probably won't end any time soon. This and generally lousy teams have netted the Tribe a paltry 13 All-Stars since 2005, barely over one per year.
A good start to the 2013 season has ensured that the Indians will end May in second place in the American League Central as they chase their first division title since 2007. With the 2013 MLB All-Star Game scheduled for July 16 at Citi Field, the home of the New York Mets, these are the Tribe players who stand the best chance of earning a trip to the Big Apple:
Justin Masterson, RHP: A dark horse Cy Young contender, it would be hard to imagine Masterson not making his first All-Star team in 2013. At age 28, Masterson is starting to realize the potential that led the Indians to acquire him from the Boston Red Sox in the 2009 Victor Martinez deal. Leading the AL in innings pitched and shutouts, as well as tied for the top spot in wins, Masterson is the undisputed ace of the Indians pitching staff. Opponents are hitting a paltry .214 off Masterson this year as he aims to become the first Tribe starter to make an All-Star team since the former Fausto Carmona in 2010. Odds are that he will.
Mark Reynolds, 1B/3B: One of the steals of the 2013 free agent class, Reynolds has been a key component of an Indians offense that ranks among the best in baseball. With 13 home runs and 41 runs batted in, Reynolds currently ranks among the top five in the American League in both categories. Having split his time between first base and third base this year, Reynolds faces heavy competition from a slew of quality players, including MVP candidates Miguel Cabrera and Chris Davis. Still, putting everything into perspective, the guess here is that Reynolds will make his first All-Star appearance in 2013.
Carlos Santana, C/1B: Even though he has cooled considerably after a torrid start to the 2013 season, Santana's numbers still rank among the best for American League catchers. His .509 slugging percentage and .908 OPS are tops among AL backstops, and his eight home runs rank only behind J.J. Arencibia of the Toronto Blue Jays. Like Reynolds, Santana splits his time between two positions, but has played the majority of his games as a catcher. The competition for All-Star spots at that position is pretty meager this season, so Santana should be rewarded with his maiden All-Star bid come July.
Other Candidates: RHP Joe Smith, 2B Jason Kipnis, RHP Zach McAllister
Shaun Heidrick is a Yahoo! Contributor who has followed the Cleveland Indians for 25 years.
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