FOX Sports MLB Analyst
SEATTLE — The All-Star Game MVP is essentially a random number generator for prizes. For a player to emerge as the standout in a single game in which no batter or pitcher plays all nine innings, a very specific sequence of events must occur, and it can basically happen to anyone.
Still, even allowing for the inherent unpredictability, the All-Star Game MVP’s history is littered with Hall of Famers and high-profile names who don’t necessarily look out of place on a list of award winners. This makes sense considering the game’s purpose of showcasing all the best talent in the league at the same time, but each year’s rosters still consist of relatively less heralded players being selected as replacements or the sole representative of bad teams. . By and large, though, those aren’t the players who have historically had the biggest moments at the annual summer showcase.
Until 2023, anyway.
Enter Rockies catcher Elias Diaz, who lifted the trophy bat Tuesday night in Seattle as the Most Valuable Player of the 93rd MLB All-Star Game. Diaz, a 32-year-old who never appeared in more than 106 games in his previous eight seasons and came to Seattle with a .693 career OPS, might have been the most anonymous player on All-Star rosters this season. anus. But with a bang, he etched his name into permanent Midsummer Classic history.
This was not a situation where Diaz simply won by forfeit because he simply had a couple of hits and RBIs in an otherwise uncompetitive and low-leverage game. Díaz hit a dramatic game-winning home run in one of the most challenging and unlikely circumstances: facing one of the most fearsome fire-throwers in the game in Orioles right-hander Félix Bautista, whose nickname “The Mountain” somehow It doesn’t even do it justice. . Bautista has become an exceptionally devastating reliever thanks to his triple-digit heat and his elimination split.
Pinch-hitting for Jorge Soler in the top of the eighth inning with a runner on first, Díaz stepped in against Bautista, whom he had never faced in the majors before. On a 2-2 count, Bautista tried to sneak past Diaz with his signature splitty to strike him out, but the 32-year-old was ready for it. He hoisted the ball just past the left-field fence to give the National League a 3-2 lead that would ultimately be held for the win, a definitely MVP-worthy moment.
Only one hitter this season had raised Bautista’s divider for a home run before Diaz: Aaron Judge back May 23. decent company.
MLB All-Star Game 2023: Every angle on Elías Díaz’s nod, two-run home run
This game-changing swing against a pitcher like Bautista would be impressive for any hitter. But for Diaz, of all players, to be the one to give the National League its first All-Star victory since 2012 was a wonderful summary of what makes the game so great. Some may roll their eyes at the league rule that guarantees at least one player from each team. While Díaz was a creditable candidate as the sole representative of the last-place Rockies, his numbers didn’t compare to those of, say, William Contreras or Francisco Álvarez.
Here’s the thing though: Times like this are exactly why this rule is in effect. It’s not just about giving every fan at least one player to cheer on and celebrate throughout the week, although that element is undeniably positive. It’s about rewarding people who have breakout seasons, regardless of team success, and showcasing a diverse selection of players across the league from markets that aren’t necessarily always in the spotlight.
Plus, it’s an excellent reminder of how good the best players in the world are, even those on the worst-recorded teams. For a player who was not tendered by a 93-loss Pirates team less than four years ago, hitting this home run and winning the MVP award means more to Diaz than ever could to the likes of Shohei Ohtani and Mookie Betts or any of the gaming superstars who have been casually collecting hardware their entire careers. That excitement was evident when Diaz was presented with the trophy after the game.
Elias Diaz of the Rockies wins 2023 MLB All-Star Game MVP
As the first Rockies catcher to make the All-Star Game, Díaz also became the first Rockies player to win the Midsummer Classic MVP award. Diaz had the rare opportunity to showcase his skill on one of the biggest stages in the game and he made the most of it. Sure, he’s not the household name we expect to lift this trophy, at least one sportsbook offered 95-1 odds on Diaz winning MVP going into the game, even with the randomness of the prize. But hey, maybe it’s better that way.
Jordan Shusterman is half of @CespedesBBQ and baseball writer for FOX Sports. He has covered baseball his entire adult life, mostly for MLB.com, DAZN and The doorbell. He’s a Mariners fan and lives in the Eastern time zone, which means he loves a good first pitch at 10 p.m. You can follow him on Twitter @j_shusterman_.
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