The Cincinnati Reds have had a fairly mediocre season. As of Friday morning, the team sits at third place in the National League Central, has won 40 games and has lost 40 games.
They're right in the middle of the pack, pretty much in every way.
But right fielder Nick Castellanos and left fielder Jesse Winker have been two bright spots for the Reds in 2021, and now they're being rewarded for it with starting positions for Major League Baseball's All-Star Game on July 13.
The Reds standouts will take the outfield corners for the National League team at Coors Field in Denver, MLB announced Thursday. It will be the first All-Star Game berth for both. The Cincinnati Reds website claims that the last time the team fielded two starters in the mid-season classic was in 2013, when current Reds first baseman Joey Votto and former Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips paired up.
Reds manager David Bell shared the news with Castellanos and Winker during a rain delay in Thursday's game against the San Diego Padres, the team's website says.
Both Castellanos and Winker have helped lift a dreary Reds team throughout the season. Here's how MLB describes the new Reds All-Stars:
Nick Castellanos, Reds (1st ASG start): We knew Castellanos was among the game’s best hitters, but he’s taken it to a whole new level this season, going into Thursday with an MLB-leading .346 batting average to go along with a 1.002 OPS. He also had the most hits (102) and doubles (27) in baseball.
Jesse Winker, Reds (1st ASG start): Make that two Reds starters in the All-Star Game, as Castellanos will see a familiar face in the cavernous Coors Field outfield. Much like teammate Castellanos, Winker has taken his offensive production to another level this season, already setting career highs in homers (19 entering Thursday) and RBIs (48 entering Thursday).
Winker was rightfully emotional after getting the news that he'd be starting.
"I never thought this could happen for me. I'm very thankful. Thank you everybody. It means a lot to me," Winker said in an article on Reds.com. "There's been a lot of people before me that have been named All-Stars and to get to fall in line and get to go, it's a huge honor for me. And I know I'm crying again, but it's a dream come true."
Castellanos also was grateful for the chance to represent his team.
"An incredible honor, man," Castellanos said in the same article. "The love and support that I’ve heard from the stadium and teammates, coaching staff, players on the other team, I’m honored, really, and very thankful for everybody casted a ballot for not only me, but Jesse also."
Two rounds of public voting through MLB and Google determined All-Star Game finalists and starters. Pitchers and reserve players will be announced July 4.
The All-Star Game will take place at Coors Field in Denver on July 13. With the 2020 game being canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 2021 game will be MLB's 91st mid-summer contest. The game originally was to be held in Atlanta, but MLB officials relocated the All-Star Game in April when Georgia passed laws that restricted voting rights that largely affected Black and Hispanic residents.
Sign up for our weekly newsletters to get the latest on the news, things to do and places to eat delivered right to your inbox.