Jose Altuve sign-stealing backlash grows with Whit Merrifield’s All-Star anger

Whit Merrifield believes Jose Altuve cheated him out of an All-Star spot.

The Kansas City Royals second baseman was named to the American League squad for the first time in his career last season. But Merrifield believes he also earned the designation in 2018 and thinks the omission is related to the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal.

“Going back to 2018, I’m going to consider myself an All-Star (for that year) with all this stuff that’s come out about the Astros,” Merrifield said in an interview with Clubhouse Conversation, a Royals fansite. “Because Jose Altuve took my spot that game. So we’ll put an asterisk by 2018. And on top of it, we’ll just go and throw in a Silver Slugger (award) for good measure.”

Altuve, the AL MVP in 2017, received the most votes in fan balloting the following season, earning the start in the Midsummer Classic at second base. He also copped his fifth consecutive Silver Slugger award that season as the top offensive player at his position.

Yankees second baseman Gleyber Torres and Oakland’s Jed Lowrie – now with the Mets – also were named as All-Star reserves in 2018.

Merrifield batted .304 that season while leading the American League in hits (192) and stolen bases (45). He made his first All-Star appearance last year when he led the league in hits (206) for a second consecutive year.

Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch were suspended for 2020 by MLB after an investigation revealed the Astros used electronic equipment to steal signs from their opponents during the 2017 season and their run to the World Series title in 2017.

Luhnow and Hinch both were fired earlier this month by Astros owner Jim Crane. Red Sox manager Alex Cora (Houston’s former bench coach) and Mets manager Carlos Beltran (a player on the 2017 team) also lost their jobs due to their involvement in the scheme.

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