This year's All-Star Game could showcase some interesting first-time All-Stars. I offered my early All-Star picks in the National League and American Leagueand pulled from there 10 intriguing players who could be first-time All-Stars. Some are phenoms, others are finally fulfilling the expectations heaped on them years ago. Others still just needed a chance or found a way to reinvent themselves. Regardless, these 10 guys have made their cases be in Kansas City on July 10.
Eleven years ago I traded Rob Bell to the Texas Rangers for Encarnacion and Ruben Mateo. I made the deal with then-Rangers general manager Doug Melvin. Trade negotiations dragged on for two months because of his reluctance to give up the 18-year-old Encarnacion. A decade later, Blue Jays fans are seeing why Melvin and I wanted him. Encarnacion, a below average defender at third base, has done a good job adapting to the DH role and been adequate at first base when manager John Farrell puts him there. It may have taken a decade for him to live up to his potential, but he’s finally having his breakout season.