Posted on July 6, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
The rosters for the 2016 MLB All-Star Game were announced on Monday, and the hands of Theo Epstein are all over them. Epstein’s current team, the Chicago Cubs, is sending seven players to San Diego for the game, including the entire starting infield for the National League team. Meanwhile, Epstein’s old team, the Boston Red Sox, will have six representatives on the American League team, many of whom were acquired and developed during Epstein’s tenure in Boston.
The Cubs made a bit of history by having their entire infield voted into the game as starters, as the contingent of Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, Addison Russell, and Kris Bryant will make for an all-Cubs infield next Tuesday in San Diego. It’s just the second time a team has owned the infield during an all-star game; the St. Louis Cardinals also started its entire infield in an all-star game in 1963.
Of course, an all-Cubs infield almost didn’t happen. Zobrist edged Daniel Murphy by a mere 88 votes to get the starting nod at second base. Meanwhile, Rizzo was the overall leader in votes among National League players. The four infielders will be joined by Dexter Fowler, who was elected as a starter in the National League outfield, as well as pitchers Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester. New York Mets manager Terry Collins has yet to name his starting pitcher for the All-Star Game, but one has to figure Arrieta and Lester will receive consideration.
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“Organizationally it speaks to what’s been done here the last several years,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said about his team’s contingent of all-stars. “I take zero credit for that. It’s great scouting and development on the part of the Cubs.”
As for the Red Sox, they lead the American League with six selections. Boston’s so-called “Killer B” contingent of Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts, and Jackie Bradley Jr. all made the All-Star Team for the first time, while David Ortiz will make his 10th all-star appearance in his farewell season. The Red Sox will also send two pitchers to the game in knuckleballer Steven Wright and closer Craig Kimbrel. There’s a chance the Red Sox could end up tying the Cubs with a league-high of seven all-stars if Dustin Pedroia wins the American League voting as the final player on the roster.
Between his time with the Cubs and Red Sox, Epstein had a hand in acquiring nine of the 17 position players voted as starters in this year’s All-Star Game. That includes Rizzo, who Epstein drafted while in Boston and later traded for when he got to Chicago. It may not be enough to portray the All-Star Game as the Cubs against the Red Sox, a possible World Series preview (perhaps titled the Theo Epstein Bowl), but it’s definitely what stands out the most about Tuesday’s all-star announcements and will certainly be a talking point during the Mid-Summer Classic.