A Mets' fan friend of mine tried to tell me about Cristian Guzman's '08 #'s just last night..."Did you know Guzman led the Majors in hits?" he asked. "The Lea..." "The National League, right," he quickly corrected himself. "Do I know that? Yes," I answered incredulously, "Did you know he (Guzman) has hit in 14 straight games, and hit in 26 of his last 27, so he hit in twelve straight, (before an epic 0-7 day for the Nationals' shortstop on June 20th against Texas), and then Guz just started up another streak?" I asked back. "I didn't know that," my Mets' fan friend mocked, "I've just heard about all the Nationals' injuries...Who exactly is playing for your team now?" (ed. note - "Didn't really have a response for that...")
But more than a few people are going to all of a sudden notice that Cristian Guzman does lead the National League in hits with 119, a total which ranks Guzman second overall in the Majors, with his .313 BA tied for 6th best in the NL, and tied for 12th best in all of Major League Baseball (as of 11:30 pm EST on 7/10). Guzman leads the Nationals in runs, with 50, doubles, with 25, triples, (tied with Dukes and W. Harris at 2), and he's third on the team in RBI's, having collected 29 in 87 games. Still...Guzman will be considered by most to be an obligatory representative, since each team, even the lowly Nationals must send at least one player to the so-called "Midsummer Classic."
However, if you look back, each of the four Washington Nationals' player (prior to Guzman) who have made MLB All-Star appearances since the rebirth of baseball in the nation's capital, (including the one with the dubious distinction of having been "voted in" by the fans), has deserved the invitation, whether or not any of the selections was obligated by the rules of the game...
In 2005, for Detroit's All-Star Game, two Nationals were selected as reserves, with the Nationals' Flat-Brimmed Closer Chad Cordero, who entered the All-Star Break in '05 with a (2-1) record and 31 saves in 46 games and 47.2 innings pitched over which he'd allowed just 37 hits, 6 ER, 4 HR's and 12 walks with 42 K's and a 1.13 ERA, and Livan Hernandez, who was, at the time of his selection, (12-3) in 19 starts, with a 3.48 ERA and 78 K's in 134.1 innings on the mound for the relocated franchise.
In '06, Washington, (and baseball fans everywhere, who voted him a starter), sent reluctant DC outfielder Alfonso Soriano to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania's PNC Park as the Nationals' (thus far) lone "elected" All-Star representative. After 81 games that season, Soriano had collected 93 hits in 338 at bats, for a .275 AVG, with 24 doubles, 21 HR's, 56 RBI's, 10 stolen bases, and (in one of the rare instances where the term "irony" could, possibly, be correctly applied), a League-leading 12 outfield assists, though most of those were because opposing coaches continued to test his arm throughout his first season in the outfield.
Last season, Washington first baseman Dmitri Young was a surprising selection when he was added as a reserve, (and the Nationals' only '07 All-Star) for San Francisco's turn as the ASG host city in July of 2007. DY had been written off by many after he'd flamed out in Detroit and actually been released by the Tigers a year earlier, but then DY hooked up with Washington and set about rejuvenating his Major League career. At the time of his selection, DY was hitting .339, with 96 hits in 283 at bats over 81 games, collecting 23 doubles, 1 triple, 8 HR's and 43 RBI's.
Chad Cordero struck out the only batter he faced in the '05 ASG, and earlier in that game, Livan Hernandez, (who had been selected in '04 as an Expo, but did not pitch), gave up 2 runs on 2 hits and a walk in 1.0 inning of work for the NL squad. Alfonso Soriano was 1 for 2 with a single in the '06 All-Star game, and DY was 1 for 1 in his only at bat in '07, and not one of these players was out of their element amongst the best/most popular players baseball had to offer...
What will Cristian Guzman do when he travels to the Bronx, to NY's Yankee Stadium for the last All-Star Game in the new-old Yankees' home? I'm guessing Guzman slaps a single through the infield if he gets a chance to hit, but as one of three shortstops, along with Hanley Ramirez (FLA) and Miguel Tejada (HOU), you never know...Either way, I'm sure Guzman will make DC fans proud...after all, it's the Guzzzzzz...and Nationals' fans should already be proud of their shortstop.