I don’t think I need to remind anyone that it hasn’t been a banner season for the Toronto Blue Jays. With J.A. Happ the sole Blue Jays All-Star representative, Jays fans and followers may not be very interested in the festivities this year.
So let’s create our own. As many have pointed out, Buck Martinez and Pat Tabler, the Jays beloved TV broadcast crew, have an affinity and appreciation for players who are both big and strong. They can often be heard praising Blue Jays and their opponents alike for their size and strength and describing how these traits enhance their abilities to be better ballplayers. It’s often the first thing out of their mouths when Mark Trumbo or Joey Gallo steps up to the plate.
With this is mind, here are “Buck and Pat’s Big and Strong American League All-Stars” for the 2018 season.
Note 1: Any player that does not chew tobacco was disqualified from consideration.
Note 2: Gable Kapler is obviously the manager. Even though he’s in the National League.
Evan Gattis – C
Not only is Houston’s burly catcher-turned-designated hitter big and strong, he also refuses to wear batting gloves – on account of his rugged man hands being more than capable of properly gripping a bat on their own. Gattis has been on fire lately and his beard is as long as ever.
Justin Smoak – 1B
First base is one of the more difficult positions to crack on the Big and Strong All-Star team, but the Blue Jays lumbering first baseman is this year’s representative after leading the Blue Jays in big hacks. He also leads the team in on-base percentage but that doesn’t factor into Big and Strong All-Star voting. Honorable mentions to Baltimore’s Chris Davis, Chicago’s Jose Abreu and Tampa Bay’s C.J. Cron. Actually, honorable mention to every first baseman that isn’t Texas’ Ronald Guzman.
Yoan Moncada – 2B
The young White Sox second baseman has long been know known for his impressive physique and off-field workout programs. In turn, Moncada is much bigger than many of his fellow second basemen. While he has yet to translate his potential into sustained success at the major league level, Buck and Pat have often noted how Moncada’s strong hands and upper body allow him to muscle balls that a weaker, punier hitter wouldn’t be able to handle…the half of the time he actually makes contact.
Manny Machado – SS
The impending free agent is having a tremendous offensive year for an otherwise disappointing Orioles team. Machado’s size and offensive output is reminiscent of shortstops from the early 2000s that redefined the position – big bodied sluggers like Nomar Garciaparra and Alex Rodriguez. Unfortunately, the defensive metrics are suggesting that Machado is fielding the position like another early 2000s star shortstop: Derek Jeter. But hey, would you lay out for a ball in the hole if your team were forty games under .500?
Mike Moustakas – 3B
Moustakas looks to be on his way to another 30 plus home run season in Kansas City. While the barrel-chested third baseman will face a crowded third base free agent market this offseason, he could be a steal to any team that values shoulder broadness or waistline size.
Aaron Judge – OF
Despite only two seasons in the major leagues, Aaron Judge has become a fast favorite of the Jays broadcast team. Anyone who’s seen Judge stand next to Jose Altuve knows why Buck and Pat like him so much. But when it comes to Judge, Buck and Pat aren’t alone. Judge is legitimately the biggest man in baseball, and a talented player at that, too. Combine the two and he gets more praise from Buck and Pat than any ballplayer not named Mike Trout Ryan Goins.
Giancarlo Stanton – OF
The Marlins loss is Buck and Pat’s gain. And the Yankees, I guess. If he were on any other team, Stanton would easily be the biggest and strongest player on his team, but thanks to the presence of Judge, he is in a two horse race. If horses were 6’6 absolutely destroyed baseballs. While strongest Yankee is still up for debate, Giancarlo Stanton is definitely the most shredded.
Kole Calhoun – OF
While Calhoun’s performance has fallen off this season, his largeness has remained elite. Calhoun may just be the platonic form of big and strong, which is why he is able to remain on the all-star team despite a down season. Calhoun’s poor showing combined with Shohei Ohtani’s elbow injury have caused a once-promising Angels team to fall to the fringes of the playoff picture. Poor Mike Trout.
Nelson Cruz – DH
Nelson Cruz just keeps hitting. The 37-year-old has already crossed the 20 home run mark; making it the 9th time in his career he has hit over 20 bombs in a season. The more cynical might remind us that Cruz may have had some help in getting as strong as he has, but PEDs sure didn’t make Dee Gordon yoked. Cruz is a big reason the M’s are battling the Astros for the division in the AL West.
Luis Severino – SP
Severino has cemented himself as one of the best pitchers in the American League this season. In a division full of excellent starting pitchers – Chris Sale, J.A. Happ, and pre-2017 Chris Archer, Severino has become one of the best. He may lose the Cy Young to Chris Sale, but he certainly wouldn’t lose a bench press contest.
Corey Kluber – SP
In addition to Kulber’s size and strength, his stoic and calm mound presence round out his gladiatorial on-field persona. Buck and Pat are often found commenting on Kulber’s ability to go deep into games (he is fourth in the American League with 126.1 innings pitched this season) and you can bet that they don’t think it’s because he’s efficient with his pitches.
John Axford – RP
The Blue Jays’ hard throwing reliever is listed at 6’5 and 220 pounds, which more than qualifies him for the squad. The fact that Axford is covered in tats and enters the game with his favorite hardcore tracks blaring through the Rogers Centre sound system adds another level of intimidation to his big and strongness.
Craig Kimbrel – RP
Kimbrel is having another dominant season as the Red Sox closer. The Alabama native is so big and strong that his face rejects hair where a moustache should be despite it growing everywhere else. If he keeps his current pace, this will be the second year in a row that Kimbrel posts an ERA under 2.00.
Enjoy the All-Star break!