July 11, 2017
The Fate of the Unknown All-Star
One year ago, when the All-Star game loped into the eighth inning, the National League team trailed 4-2, and then-Yankees terror Andrew Miller came in to face the third wave of Terry Collins’ squad. To spare you the mess of a Midsummer Classic box score: After two outs and two singles, it became apparent that the ultimate destination of the tying runner would be decided by Reds outfielder Adam Duvall and Cardinals shortstop Aledmys Diaz.
Duvall was hitting .249 to that point in 2016—in his first sizeable stretch of major-league action after coming over from San Francisco in the Mike Leake trade—and getting on base at just a .288 clip. But (but!) he’d tallied 23 homers for a team that, by rule, needed an All-Star. When he stepped into the box, you could almost hear the chorus emanating from America’s armchairs. Adam Duvall? Who’s that?
Most of those folks probably didn’t find a reason to commit the name to memory during the plate appearance either, but he walked, and extended the inning. That brought about a pitching change—the Astros’ Will Harris entered to relieve Miller—and got Diaz to the plate.
The story goes that Diaz used to wait days for literal video tapes of the All-Star game to surface in his Cuban hometown. As he approached and passed birthday after cruel, prospect-diminishing birthday, his chances of transporting himself into one of those magical reels appeared to be vanishing. Then, sometime after his 25th birthday and a damning, unencumbered journey across the waiver wire, his bat clicked in the minors.
In the season during which he’d turn 26, he found himself in the majors, finally. At the break, he was hitting .315/.380/.536, because sure! Or maybe because Cardinals. Either way, he was (deservedly) added to the All-Star roster as a replacement for teammate Matt Carpenter. And suddenly he was immortalized in one of those videos. Just one, to be sure. But he was there.