Brandon Crawford and Joe Panik formed a double-play combo for the first time in the Arizona Fall League in 2011, the year Crawford reached the majors and Panik was drafted by the Giants. Now arguably the league’s best middle infield, they are going together to their first All-Star Game.
Crawford and Panik were named to the National League team as reserves Monday and will join ace Madison Bumgarner (in his third All-Star selection) and catcher Buster Posey (also his third) in Cincinnati next week. Posey was voted in by fans as the starting catcher for the N.L.
Crawford was selected by player voting, while Panik and Bumgarner were named to the team by Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who will manage the N.L. team. Bochy said it was “a no-brainer” to take Bumgarner and Panik, who will make his All-Star debut a little more than a year removed from his major-league debut June 21.
In his first full season, Panik leads N.L. second basemen in on-base plus slugging percentage (.815) and ranks 12th among N.L. position players in wins above replacement (2.9), according to FanGraphs. The 24-year-old also has committed just two errors in 79 games, forming a slick-fielding middle infield with Crawford.
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“He’s earned it,” Bochy said of Panik. “The numbers speak for themselves. This is not a case where I’m just taking my guy to take him. He should be there.”
Panik and Crawford are the first Giants middle infield to make the All-Star Game in the same season since Jeff Kent and Rich Aurilia in 2001. Crawford leads N.L. shortstops in WAR (2.9) and RBIs (49) and has a career-high 12 home runs.
Crawford (322) finished two votes behind N.L. shortstop leader Jhonny Peralta of St. Louis (324) on the player ballot, but Peralta had been voted in by fans. Crawford said it was “a huge honor to be selected by your peers.” He said he found out about his selection last week, but as the ESPN selection show played on TVs in the clubhouse Monday, he added with a grin: “It’s still cool seeing it on TV.”
As the N.L. manager, Bochy had nine selections, but three were earmarked for teams – San Diego, Milwaukee and Philadelphia – that did not have a player voted in by fans or players. With one of his remaining six, Bochy selected the left-hander Bumgarner, who is 8-5 with a 3.34 ERA and ranks fifth among N.L. starters with 114 strikeouts.
Bumgarner secured his place among the league’s top pitchers with his historic October during the Giants’ 2014 World Series run, and Panik, referencing Bumgarner’s five-inning save in Game 7 of the World Series, joked Monday: “I think October 29, he locked himself into Cincinnati.”
Including Posey, all four of the Giants’ selections are players they developed in their minor-league system.
“That’s pretty special,” Bumgarner said. “Obviously, they’re doing something right here and going after the right guys, and they’re learning the right way and contributing at an early stage in their careers.”
Bumgarner said his advice to Crawford and Panik at their first All-Star Game will be to “just relax and take it all in.” Crawford said his plan is to “just kind of see everything” and “maybe follow Buster around, since he’s been to a couple before.”
Also making their first All-Star teams are the A’s two selections, right-hander Sonny Gray and catcher Stephen Vogt. Both were selected to the American League team via player balloting.
Vogt leads A.L. catchers in most major offensive categories, including OPS (.882) and RBIs (53) and ranks second in WAR (2.6) amid a breakout season at age 30. Vogt made his first Opening Day roster this season. He finished third on the player ballot behind Toronto’s Russell Martin and starting catcher Salvador Perez of Kansas City.
“Just to be recognized at the major-league level by your peers and by everybody out there that you are an All-Star, holy cow,” Vogt told reporters on a conference call. “You put that into perspective and it’s just been quite the ride, and I’m truly honored.”
Gray ranks second among A.L. starters in ERA (2.09) to go with a 9-3 record. He had been in the conversation to start the All-Star Game, but he missed most of last week because of gastroenteritis and is now scheduled to pitch the Sunday before the game, which would make him ineligible.
Vogt said Gray was the first pitcher he caught in the A’s organization after arriving via trade in 2013, and that it’s “only fitting” they should go to Cincinnati together.
“If it wasn’t for him and what he does, it wouldn’t be possible for me,” Vogt said. “To share it with Sonny is pretty special.”
- When: Tuesday, July 14, 4:30 p.m.
- Where: Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati
- TV: Ch. 40
- Giants: Catcher Buster Posey (starter), pitcher Madison Bumgarner, shortstop Brandon Crawford, second baseman Joe Panik
- A’s: Catcher Stephen Vogt, pitcher Sonny Gray