NEW YORK -- Jose Bautista has had plenty of All-Star experience in his career. The Blue Jays' outfielder has been one of the game's top sluggers over the past four years, making an appearance in the Midsummer Classic in each of those seasons.
This year, he'll be accompanied by a trio of first-time All-Stars, one of whom has spent much of the season protecting him in Toronto's lineup: first baseman Edwin Encarnacion.
"Edwin has been going at the pace he's been going at for over two years now," Bautista said. "It's about time that he got recognized."
Encarnacion was widely considered an All-Star snub last season, as he didn't make the team despite posting a stellar first half, during which he hit .295 with 23 home runs and 58 RBIs. He's been even better this year, though, as he currently ranks third in the American League in homers (25) and RBIs (72) while also ranking among the top 10 in OPS (.889) and runs scored (60).
"This is a lot for me. You're working for something like this," Encarnacion said. "Everybody wanted to be here, so I feel very happy."
Encarnacion will join Bautista at the game, who is starting in right field and batting fifth for the AL -- the third straight year he has been voted into the game by the fans.
Bautista's power numbers aren't as gaudy this year as they have been in the past, but even a struggling Bautista is one of the best hitters in baseball. Despite batting just .200 in April, the righty is hitting .254 with 20 home runs and 55 RBIs this year.
It's not necessarily a prototypical Bautista season, but his presence at the game is a testament to his consistency over the past four years, which has included a pair of Hank Aaron Awards.
"We haven't played our best baseball consistently, and that's what it comes down to," Bautista said. "I'll be the first one to point the finger at myself and say I'm the guy on top of that list. I should have more steady production, instead of all those ups and downs that I've had a times this year. I'm looking for that consistency in the second half."
The duo has led an offense that ranks ninth in the league with 428 runs scored and third with 115 home runs, 39 percent of which belong to Bautista and Encarnacion.
Bautista was hoping to participate in the Chevrolet Home Run Derby again this season, and he accepted an invite to join the AL team from Yankees second baseman and AL captain Robinson Cano. But the Blue Jays requested that he not take part in the event, meaning he will be watching rather than swinging on Monday.
That doesn't mean Bautista and Encarnacion won't be enjoying their time in Citi Field, though.
"This is a big experience. This is a dream I've dreamed before," Encarnacion said. "I feel very excited."
"Every individual accolade gets highlighted by participating in the All-Star Game," Bautista said. "It's a great experience. I'm happy to be here."
The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again have fans participating in the official voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com via the 2013 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote, and their voice will represent 20 percent of the official vote determining the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
The 2013 All-Star Game will be played at Citi Field on Tuesday. Come to MLB.com for extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.
The 84th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM also will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.
Josh Vitale is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less