The Cleveland Indians have been the best team in baseball this season, and they have the All-Stars to show for it.
Three Indians were named Sunday to the American League starting lineup and three will be reserves for the July 11 All-Star game. That will make Cleveland, which has a major-league best 42-18 record, the most represented team in Arlington, Texas.
Second baseman Carlos Baerga and outfielder Albert Belle were elected starters in the fans' ballotting and outfielder Kenny Lofton was named to start in place of injured Ken Griffey Jr. AL manager Buck Showalter of the New York Yankees also selected Cleveland outfielder Manny Ramirez and Indians pitchers Dennis Martinez and Jose Mesa for his club.
"I could easily have chosen a few more (Indians)," Showalter said in a conference call with national media, mentioning 1B/DH Eddie Murray (who broke two ribs in Sunday's game), 3B Jim Thome and pitcher Julian Tavarez.
"This is very indicative of what they've done on the field. They've got quality people and a quality organization. This is very reflective of the year they're having and the type of personnel they have."
The selection that will attract the most attention is that of Los Angeles' Hideo Nomo, the Japanese pitching sensation, to the National League team.
"(Nomo's) got to be on the team," said NL manager Felipe Alou of Montreal. "You're talking about a trade war if he doesn't play on this team."
Two Tampa products will be among the starters: Atlanta first baseman Fred McGriff will make his second start for the NL and New York Yankees third baseman Wade Boggs will make his 10th start for the AL. Texas pitcher Kenny Rogers, a product of Plant City High, was named to the AL squad.
The starters are elected through voting by the fans and the vote total seems to reflect the post-strike drop-off teams are experiencing at the gate and a general reduction in interest in the game.
A total of 5,808,000 ballots were cast, compared to a record 14,040,122 last year. The leading vote-getters this year were Baltimore shortstop Cal Ripken (1,698,524) and San Francisco outfielder Barry Bonds (1,392,130). Last year, the top choices were Seattle outfielder Griffey (6,079,688) and St. Louis shortstop Ozzie Smith (3,514,824).
Baseball officials said thedrop-off was due to the uncertainty surrounding the start of the season and a resulting decision by Texaco, which sponsors the voting, not tomake ballots available in its 12,000 retail outlets, as it did last year.
"The major difference between last year and this year was the late start to the season _ we didn't know when it would start or if it would start," MLB spokesman Jim Small said. "And there were no ballots available at the Texaco outlets in North America. This is consistent with what we had in the late '80s as far as numbers. Considering what's happened this season, those numbers are strong."
Starting pitchers and lineups won't be announced until July 10. Showalter said he would likely pick either Kansas City's Kevin Appier, Seattle's Randy Johnson or Rogers to start for the AL depending on their individual pitching schedules.
Alou missed the conference call, but indicated after the Expos' game in Miami that Atlanta's Greg Maddux would be his man.
"I've got to tell you, when you have a guy who's won three consecutive Cy Young awards and is leading the league in ERA, I don't see how anyone else is going to start," Alou said. "But I'm not announcing that."
Alou did say Cincinnati's Barry Larkin will replace the injured Smith at shortstop and Colorado's unheralded third baseman, Vinny Castilla, will start in place of the injured Matt Williams.
Smith, out since late May with a sore shoulder, was elected to start for the 12th time; only Rod Carew, with 15, was voted in more times. Ripken was named an All-Star for the 13th time.
After Cleveland, the next best represented AL team is California, with four All-Stars (infielder Gary DiSarcina, outfielder Jim Edmonds and pitchers Chuck Finley and Lee Smith).
The NL team includes five Philadelphia Phillies (starting outfielder Lenny Dykstra, catcher Darren Daulton, second baseman Mickey Morandini and pitchers Heathcliff Slocumb and Tyler Green) and five Los Angeles Dodgers (starting catcher Mike Piazza, shortstop Jose Offerman, outfielder Raul Mondesi, relief pitcher Todd Worrell and Nomo.)
Each team includes 11 first-time All-Stars.
Among those left off the team was Tampa's Derek Bell, the Houston outfielder who leads the NL with a .353 average and 85 hits.
"I'm very frustrated. I don't know what I've got to do," Bell said in Houston. "I guess I'll just tip my hat and take three days off and not think about it. I'm hitting over .350, with 49 RBI, 80-something hits and I'm leading all the major leagues in hits. I'm angry and disappointed."
Alou said Bell was given full consideration. "Here you've got a guy leading the league in hitting not on the team. But other guys have more home runs and more RBI. It's very tough, but I did my homework."
ALL-STAR GAME 1995
National League American League
Fred McGriff, Atl Frank Thomas, Chi
.270 BA, 10 HR, 38 RBI .320 BA, 20 HR, 51 RBI
Craig Bigglo, Hou Carlos Baerga, Cle
.278 BA, 7 HR, 32 RBI .336 BA, 85 H, 41 RBI
+Barry Larkin, Cin Cal Ripken, Bal
.278 BA, 19 SB, 29 RBI .279 BA, 7 HR, 35 RBI
++Vinny Castilla, Col Wade Boggs, NY
.312 BA, 12 HR, 38 RBI .311 BA, 2 HR, 27 RBI
Mike Piazza, LA Ivan Rodriguez, Tex
.396 BA, 13 HT, 36 RBI .321 BA, 4 HR, 27 RBI
Barry Bonds, SF Albert Belle, Cle
.305 BA, 13 HR, 45 RBI .312 BA, 12 HR, 47 RBI
Lenny Dykstra, Phi +++Kenny Lofton, Cle
.264 BA, 341 OB, 12 RBI .326 BA, 18 SB, .364 OB
Tony Gwynnn, SD Kirby Puckett, Min
.346 BA, 80 H, 41, RBI .277 BA, 10 HR, 39 RBI
TIME: Tuesday, July 11, 8:29 p.m.
WHERE: The Ballpark at Arlington (Texas)
TV: Chs. 28, 40 RADIO: WNZE-AM 820
MANAGERS: NL _ Felipe Alou, Montreal; AL _ Buck Showalter, New York
VOTED STARTER BUT INJURED
+Ozzie Smith, StL +++Ken Griffey Jr. Sea
++Matt Williams, SF
Catcher: Mike Stanley, New York.
Infielders: Roberto Alomar, Toronto; Gary DiSarcina, California; Edgar Martinez, Seattle; Mark McGwire, Oakland; Kevin Seitzer, Milwaukee; Mo Vaughn, Boston.
Outfielders: Jim Edmonds, California; Paul O'Neill, New York; Manny Ramirez, Cleveland.
Pitchers+: Kevin Appier, Kansas City; Chuck Finley, California; Erik Hanson, Boston; Randy Johnson, Seattle; Dennis Martinez, Cleveland; Jose Mesa, Cleveland; Steve Ontiveros, Oakland; Kenny Rogers, Texas; Lee Smith, California; David Wells, Detroit.
Catchers: Darren Daulton, Philadelphia.
Infielders: Bobby Bonilla, New York; Mark Grace, Chicago; Mickey Morandini, Philadelphia; Jose Offerman, Los Angeles.
Outfielders: Dante Bichette, Colorado; Jeff Conine, Florida; Ron Gant, Cincinnati; Raul Mondesi, Los Angeles; Reggie Sanders, Cincinnati; Sammy Sosa, Chicago.
Pitchers+: Tyler Green, Philadelphia; Tom Henke, St. Louis; Greg Maddux, Atlanta; Randy Myers, Chicago; Denny Neagle, Pittsburgh; Hideo Nomo, Los Angeles; Carlos Perez, Montreal; Heathcliff Slocumb, Philadelphia; Todd Worrell, Los Angeles.
+ _ Starting pitchers to be named later.
Player, team Stats
Cecil Fielder, Tigers 19 HR, 47 RBI
Eddie Murray, Indians .323 BA, 45 RBI
Tim Naehring, Red Sox .344 BA
Todd Stottlemyre, A's 7-1, 3.74 ERA
Derek Bell, Astros NL-best .353 BA
Jim Eisenreich, Phils .349 BA, .411 OB
John Smiley, Reds 8-1, 3.12 ERA
Larry Walker, Rockies 17 HR