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SPOTLIGHT
Royals have three All-Stars

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Royals have three All-Stars

Published on -7/7/2014, 10:16 AM

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By Andy McCullough

McClatchy-Tribune

Salvador Perez sat on a leather couch inside the visitors' clubhouse at Progressive Field and picked at his postgame meal. Head down, he ignored the verbal jabs flicked his way by Royals outfielder Jarrod Dyson. At last, Dyson could take no more.

"What?" Dyson asked. "You don't want to talk to me now, cause you're a two-time All-Star?"

The same teasing could be applied to outfielder Alex Gordon and closer Greg Holland. A familiar trio will represent the Royals at the All-Star Game on July 15 at Target Field. The three players all appeared in the game for the first time last season, the first time the club had sent more than two players to the game since 1988.

"It's nice to make an All-Star team," manager Ned Yost said. "But to be a two-time All-Star? That's special. I think these guys all have the capability of being three- and four- and five-time All-Stars."

Perez will be starting the game because of an injury to Baltimore catcher Matt Wieters, the leading vote-getter among the fans.

"I would feel more excited if I could start the game," Perez said before the announcement was made.

All three Royals were chosen for the team based on the players' vote. Perez, who was fifth, was the only Royal who finished in the top-five in fan voting at any position.

"When you get voted on by the players, it really means a lot," Gordon said. "It shows that there's guys out there that respect your game, and it's a great honor."

The lone disappointment for the group was the snub of Wade Davis, Holland's set-up man. Davis has emerged as a high-leverage beast this season. He ranked third in ERA (1.23), third in strikeouts per nine innings (14.24) and fourth in strikeout percentage (40 percent) among American League relievers before Sunday's games.

"I think Wade's definitely deserving," Holland said. "He's pitched his (rear) off for us. There's not really anything else you can say, other than just look at the numbers."

The statistics also look favorably on the three returning All-Stars.

With 23 saves, Holland trailed only Seattle closer Fernando Rodney. Holland has fanned 50 batters in 32.2 innings. Opposing hitters have managed only seven earned runs against him.

Perez's case for supremacy among his peers is solid. He led all American League catchers qualified for the batting title in on-base-plus-slugging percentage heading into Sunday. His arm is a certified deterrent for opposing runners.

Even in the midst of a slump, Gordon's value cannot be denied. He powered the offense during last month's season-restoring, 10-game winning streak. Heading into Sunday, he trailed only Los Angeles wunderkind Mike Trout in the American League in FanGraphs's version of wins above replacement, an advanced metric which measures a player's performance compared to a Class AAA equivalent.

Gordon's value derives from various sources. He is a solid hitter, and his .769 OPS ranks third on the Royals. He runs the bases well. His defense is elite, and he appears on track for his fourth consecutive Gold Glove.

That award arrives in the fall. For now, Gordon can add a second All Star Game to his resume. Holland and Perez will do the same.

And, perhaps, Davis can join them. He has never been an All-Star. Holland was in a similar situation last season. He did not make the initial cut, and received word of his inclusion on the Sunday before the game.

"Hopefully he gets in with us," Holland said. "And we can take four Royals to the All-Star Game."

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