If Joey Votto is the face of Major League Baseball, as determined by voters before the season, Brandon Phillips is the smile.
The Reds second baseman leads the league in grins. He camped under a pop out Friday night, and perhaps Votto, his partner on the right side of the infield , said something funny because Phillips was laughing as he caught it. That’s not an uncommon occurrence.
Votto and Phillips have started next to each other for six seasons, but they have never started an All-Star game together. That changes July 16 in New York at the Mets’ Citi Field. The All-Star teams were announced Saturday, and Votto and Phillips led the National League in voting at their positions.
Closer Aroldis Chapman, who ranks fifth in the league with 20 saves and has a 2.57 ERA, was also named to the team. It’s his second selection.
Votto and Phillips are the fifth set of teammates at first base and second base to be voted into the game by the fans. It’s the second straight start for Votto and the first for Phillips.
“It’s a real honor,” said Votto, who leads the NL with a .433 on-base percentage and ranks fourth with a .322 average. “I’ve been selected by the fans, once by the final vote, two as a starter. Last year had a great amount of meaning because it was my first time (starting). It was a little bit overwhelming.
“This year what’s so special is I get to play beside Brandon. It’ll feel a little more comfortable. I know it’ll mean a tremendous amount to the Cincinnati Reds fans. I know they’ll be motivated to tune in and to see our antics on the right side of the infield.”
Phillips drove in his 64th run of the season in Saturday’s 13-4 victory over the Mariners at Great American Ball Park. He ranks third in the league in that category. This will be his third All-Star appearance.
It was one of my goals to start in the All-Star game,” Phillips said. “I just want to say thank you to all the fans who voted for me. It’s a dream come true. It’s another milestone I can check off. I’ve got to thank my teammates for making it possible, for putting me in the position to put up the numbers.”
Jay Bruce, who ranks sixth in the NL in RBIs (59) and home runs (18), didn’t make the team.