Michigan, St. Clair product Jake Cronenworth makes midseason All-Star teams for MLB, ESPN
There will be no All-Star Game in this abbreviated season of Major League Baseball.
If there was, however, Jake Cronenworth could have made a strong case to be included in it.
The versatile Michigan and St. Clair product is hitting .342 (with a 1.010 OPS) as a rookie while playing four different positions through what's generally considered the midway point of this shortened season, helping to keep the San Diego Padres (18-13) within range of the National League West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers (22-9) entering Wednesday's games.
As a result, Cronenworth is popping up on some what-could-have-been All-Star teams, including those put together by MLB.com and ESPN.
ESPN has Cronenworth slotted in a utility role for its NL squad, with writer Bradford Doolittle calling him "a revelation." MLB.com, on the strength of a 60-person voting panel at the site and its MLB Network, has Croneworth as a reserve second baseman on its NL team behind the Giants' Donovan Solano.
"Possibly the most fun position on this list because, really, who saw this coming," MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince writes. "Solano’s a 32-year-old who came into this year with a career .666 (yikes) OPS in 1,396 plate appearances. ... The top honor could have just as easily gone to Cronenworth, who was not the highest-profile piece moved in the Tommy Pham-Hunter Renfroe swap, but has been the most impactful, with a .342/.402/.608 slash for those poundin’ Padres. It should go without saying that both of these guys would be first-time All-Stars."
DJ LeMahieu, a Birmingham Brother Rice product, also made MLB.com's All-Star roster, as a backup second baseman for the American League.
Cronenworth was a seventh-round draft pick in 2015 by the Tampa Bay Rays, who continued to develop him as a position player and pitcher, much like his career at Michigan, where he was a career .300-plus hitter but also saved four games for the Wolverines in the 2015 Big Ten tournament, earning MVP honors.
He was traded to the Padres last December in a four-player deal that included major-league outfielders Pham and Renfroe.
"Pham got hurt, but the Padres have still reaped rewards from the deal because of Cronenworth's breakout season," Doolittle writes. "After filling in ably for Eric Hosmer at first base when Hosmer was injured, Cronenworth has moved all around the infield and become a semifixture at second base, where he has started 12 games. He has hit .342/.402/.608 over his first 25 career big league contests, backed up by an expected wOBA (.507) that ranks third in all of baseball."