For the second consecutive season, the Cardinals' first baseman and catcher will start for the National League in the All-Star Game, heading a group of five St. Louis players on the NL roster, which was revealed Sunday. Joining the two starters, who were voted in by fans, are pitchers Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter and outfielder Matt Holliday. It's the club's largest contingent since 2005, when six Cardinals were All-Stars in Detroit.
"It's neat," said Holliday. "It's always fun to experience this type of deal with your teammates and your friends. It's pretty exciting."
Pujols was the leading vote-getter in the NL and obliterated his competition at first base, finishing with more than 2 1/2 times as many votes as second-place finisher Ryan Howard. His vote total of nearly 4.4 million was higher than the totals of the next three finishers at first base combined. He won out over a strong field of first basemen that also includes San Diego's Adrian Gonzalez, who is on the team, and Cincinnati's Joey Votto, a candidate in the All-Star Final Vote.
It is Pujols' ninth selection to the Midsummer Classic, and his eighth time appearing in the game. It will be his seventh time in the NL's starting lineup. Pujols has been voted in as a starter five times now, including four times at first base, and he was selected as the designated hitter on two other occasions.
Molina, meanwhile, edged out Atlanta's Brian McCann by about 332,000 votes, the closest margin of any NL starter over the nearest runner-up. Molina received about 2.25 million votes. Holliday and Wainwright were voted in by players, while Carpenter was a selection of NL manager Charlie Manuel. It was a banner day for Molina, who also welcomed his second child into the world on Sunday morning.
Molina was a first-time All-Star in 2009, voted into the NL's starting lineup at his home ballpark. He's struggled at the plate this season, but his defense remains as good as any catcher in the game, and he's extremely popular with fans. Molina is the first Cardinals catcher to be selected to more than one All-Star Game since Ted Simmons, who was a six-time All-Star for the Redbirds in the 1970s.
"It's an honor, always," Molina said. "I feel good. I can't wait. It's going to be fun."
Holliday is an All-Star for the fourth time, and the first time as a Cardinal. He was a starter in 2008 and could yet appear in the NL's lineup this time around, either as a replacement for Atlanta's Jason Heyward, who could skip the game to get healthy, or as the designated hitter. He took grief from fans and media earlier in the year as a result of his difficulties with runners in scoring position, but his overall numbers show the fine year he's enjoying.
"I think he's pressed to make [his new seven-year, $120-million contract] look good, which is human nature for a guy that's a good person," manager Tony La Russa said. "But I think he's settling in to just doing what he can do, and he's on his way to having a solid year. But when you sign a deal like that, you're going to have some pressures attached and some distractions, and you're going to catch some extra attention. That's just the way it is."
Wainwright is on the roster for the first time in his career, while Carpenter was named for the third time. Carpenter started the 2005 game in Detroit but did not pitch when he was selected in '06.
For Wainwright, it's a turnaround after a couple of recent disappointments. He and the club believed he had an excellent shot at last year's NL Cy Young Award, but he finished third in the balloting behind Tim Lincecum and Carpenter. Wainwright also appeared to have at least a chance at an All-Star berth last season, but stayed home.
"It's always something I can say I did," Wainwright said. "To make an All-Star team at the Major League level, that's pretty special. Any time you get votes from your peers, it's special. Last year, I got a big award from my peers [the Players Choice Award as NL Outstanding Pitcher], and I felt really awesome about that. I guess I've got to keep buying guys wine and ... no, I'm just kidding. I do appreciate it. It's nice to be recognized, especially from your peers."
Carpenter returns to the summer stage for the first time since he underwent Tommy John elbow surgery in the summer of 2006. He also dealt with a puzzling and persistent nerve issue in his right arm that cost him time late in '08. Yet at 35 he's still standing, still pitching and once again an All-Star.
"It's neat because I'm still doing it at a high level, with everything that's happened," Carpenter said. "Does it mean anything more? No. But it's still neat that I'm still doing it."
The Cardinals could have had even more, too. Rookie Jaime Garcia had the best ERA of any starting pitcher in either league not named to the game. Colby Rasmus is having an outstanding year at the plate, and Ryan Franklin is enjoying another excellent year at the back end of the Cards' bullpen. Franklin's relatively low total of 15 saves likely kept him off the roster.
"It would have been cool to go again," said Franklin, a first-time All-Star in 2009. "It's an accomplishment that I got last year and I wanted to this year. But I don't think what I did in the first half kept me from it. It was pretty much out of my control."
The starting rosters for the All-Star teams were announced during the 2010 All-Star Game Selection Show on TBS on Sunday afternoon.
Fans, having already decided the starters and this week the final player on each team, once again will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevy via the 2010 All-Star Game MVP Vote Sponsored by Sprint on MLB.com during the All-Star Game.
The 81st Major League Baseball All-Star Game in Anaheim on July 13 will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and Le Reseau des Sports, and around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 7 p.m. CT. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Game coverage.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.