MILWAUKEE — They joined the Milwaukee Brewers in a pair of separate, blockbuster moves on the same cold January night, so after helping the team to its best start (54-36) in franchise history, it’s only fitting Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich are headed to the All-Star Game together.
The outfielders were among three Milwaukee players, along with left-handed relief ace Josh Hader, who were named Sunday to the National League squad which will play July 17 at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. Their selections mark the first time since 2015 the Brewers will send multiple representatives to the game.
“We’ve got the best record in the National League, so we should have some All-Stars,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “That means we have guys having big years, and we earned a bunch of guys on the team.”
Cain, who left Kansas City and agreed to a five-year, $80 million deal on Jan. 25 before signing the next day, came off the disabled list Sunday to play his 73rd game of the season. He’s otherwise been a consistent presence atop the Milwaukee lineup, batting .290 with a .394 on-base percentage, 50 runs scored and 16 stolen bases. He is headed to his second All-Star Game — his first came with the Royals.
“It’s a great experience,” said Cain, who was voted into the American League starting lineup in 2015. “Everybody should get a chance. It’s a lot of fun to get to play with a lot of great talent.”
Yelich, acquired in a Jan. 25 deal with the Miami Marlins, attended the 2010 game in Anaheim as a fan but is looking forward to the chance to participate in the festivities for the first time as a player.
Like Cain, he’s among the team’s top offensive performers, batting .285 with 12 doubles, 11 home runs and 36 RBIs with an .821 OPS in 74 games. He has stolen 11 bases.
“It’s one thing to make it to the big leagues but it’s another thing to make it to an All-Star Game,” Yelich said. “It’s a pretty cool honor and an experience you should appreciate and take in.”
Hader’s first All-Star invitation comes just under 13 months since making his major league debut. He’s been one of the most dominant relievers in all of baseball, holding opponents to a .104 batting average. He hasn’t allowed a run in 23 of his 29 appearances while striking out an astounding 83 batters in 44º innings of work.
The trip will be extra special for Hader. He grew up not far from Washington D.C., in Millersville, Maryland. He is looking forward to pitching in front of family and friends.
“It’s definitely special,” Hader said. “Last year I was able to play in front of my family and friends in D.C. but to go back there for the All-Star Game, words just really can’t describe it.”
Jesus Aguilar could join that trio in Washington.
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Aguilar claimed a share of the NL lead with 22 homers after hitting a pair Sunday against the Braves but was left off the roster. Instead, he will compete with Los Angeles Dodgers corner infielder Max Muncy; St. Louis Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter; San Francisco Giants first baseman Brandon Belt; and Washington Nationals shortstop Trea Turner for the final roster spot, which will be decided by online fan voting through 3 p.m. Wednesday.
The extra wait is nothing new for Aguilar, who entered spring training unsure of his future after the Brewers committed to transitioning Ryan Braun to first base despite the presence of starter Eric Thames. Aguilar forced his way onto the roster with another strong spring then latched onto the starting spot when Thames was lost to a thumb injury in April.
Aguilar is batting .306 to go with his 22 home runs, 63 RBIs and 1.001 OPS this season, leading the team in all four categories and leaving no doubt among his teammates about his worthiness for a berth.
“There’s not much else you can say,” Hader said. “What he’s been doing, that’s MVP stuff right there.”
Aguilar took the news in stride.
“That’s something I don’t control,” he said. “It’s not me. I’ve just got to go up there and play the right way.”
He would be the third Milwaukee player to win the final vote competition. Fans voted Geoff Jenkins onto the squad in 2003 and Corey Hart got the nod in 2008.
“He has to be in the All-Star Game,” said right-hander Junior Guerra.
Even if he doesn’t win the fan vote, Aguilar could still find his way on to the team should other selections become injured or unavailable. Right-hander Jeremy Jeffress leads the group of worth replacement candidates after going 6-1 with a 1.05 ERA in 42 appearances this season.
Jeffress has held opponents to a .159 average and 0.84 WHIP while allowing only eight of 31 inherited runners to score.
“Just like Aggie, the stats speak for them self,” Hader said. “What he’s been doing to get out of jams for us, he’s deserving for sure.”
Getting Aguilar on the squad would give the Brewers four All-Stars for the first time since 2014 and the seventh time in franchise history.