3 MLB All-Star Game rookies, 1 veteran nab KC Royals selections

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After accomplishing next to nothing at the plate at Colorado Friday and Saturday, and thus losing twice to the Rockies, the KC Royals erupted Sunday afternoon. They banged out a dozen hits, including three home runs, and battered Colorado 10-1 to avoid an embarrassing series sweep.

But the victory, much-needed as the Royals try to keep pace with first-place Cleveland and second-place Minnesota in the American League Central, and to stay close to Boston for the third Al Wild Card spot, wasn't the only thing the club had to celebrate Sunday.

Not long after the victory, the Royals learned that four of their number — Bobby Witt Jr., Salvador Perez, Seth Lugo, and Cole Ragans — won't get much time off during next week's All-Star Break. Instead, the four will head from Boston, where KC plays next weekend, to Arlington for the July 16 MLB All-Star Game. They were named to manager Bruce Bochy's AL team late Sunday afternoon.

Lugo, the ace of Kansas City's rotation so far this season, was a shoo-in for his first All-Star berth. So was Witt, who'll also make his All-Star debut next week; and if he wasn't a sure selection for his ninth trip to the Midsummer Classic, Perez was close. Making the team probably wasn't a foregone conclusion for Ragans, who's joining Lugo and Witt as All-Star rookies.

Seth Lugo leads the Kansas City choices

That Lugo would make Bochy's club was a no-brainer. He pitched more than well enough to win at Colorado Saturday, and to become the majors' winningest pitcher Saturday night, but his teammates' quiet bats (KC lost 3-1), left him with a dispiriting loss and 11-3 record. But he's still tied with Atlanta's Chris Sale for the big league lead with 11, and his 2.21 ERA is the majors' second-best.

Lugo also has a majors-leading 15 quality starts in 19 attempts. The question now is this: Will Bochy name Lugo as the AL starter?

Bobby Witt Jr. and Salvador Perez didn't get fan vote but still made it

Witt and Perez, Kansas City's top stars, made it to the Finals of the fan voting process, but from the start of that last stage faced uphill battles they both ultimately lost. Baltimore's Gunnar Henderson beat out Witt, and Perez lost to Oriole catcher Adley Rutschman.

Fortunately, the hybrid process from which pitchers and reserves are chosen for each league's rosters saved the two Royals. Witt, whose three hits, including his club-leading 15th homer of the season, and three RBIs helped assure Kansas City of its big Sunday win, is slashing .324/.372/.564; as of this writing, he leads the majors in hits with 119 and has the big leagues' second-best average.

Perez made the team in spite of the long slump he's experiencing. His two Sunday hits bumped his average up to .276 and his 14 homers are second on the Royals only to Witt's 15. With this year's selection, Perez trails only Hall of Famer George Brett in Royal All-Star berths — Brett made it 13 times.

KC Royals starter Cole Ragans is also going to the 2024 MLB All-Star Game

Some will say Ragans, who's in his first full season as a Royal, shouldn't have made the AL roster and point to his record as proof. Ragans, named the club's 2023 Pitcher of the Year after his superb second-half performance, is 5-6 with a 3.28 ERA, hardly traditional All-Star numbers, but he's thrown 13 quality starts and owns a nice 1.17 WHIP.

Like Lugo Saturday, Ragans pitched well enough to win Friday evening. He struck out eight and surrendered just two runs, but left with the score tied after seven innings and watched from the dugout as Colorado scored twice in the eighth and won 4-2.

The All-Star Game begins at 8 p.m. ET July 16 at Arlington's Globe Life Field. FOX has the telecast.

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