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Brock and Salk break down M’s All-Stars: ‘Guys in the game are giving some respect due to the Mariners’

DH Nelson Cruz was one of the three Mariners named to the All-Star Game Sunday. (AP)

The Mariners had three players named to the MLB All-Star Game Sunday in outfielder Mitch Haniger, closer Edwin Díaz, and designated hitter Nelson Cruz.

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For 710 ESPN Seattle’s Brock Huard, the announcement meant that other players are recognizing Seattle as a legitimate contender this season – even if national MLB pundits have yet to catch on.

“I’ll choose to look at these All-Star selections yesterday as the fact that baseball, and especially maybe these players’ peers, have taken notice of what the Mariners have done in the first half of this season,” Huard said.

While fan voting decides the starters for the All-Star Game, a combination of MLB players and the Commissioner’s Office determine the pitchers and reserve position players. That’s how the Mariners’ three All-Stars had their tickets punched to Washington, D.C.

“While many of the national pundits have looked at them and said, ‘Oh you’re lucky, all these one-run wins, your luck is going to run out.’ That actually the players who have played these Mariners and performed against them (recognize their strong performances),” Huard said. “… I’ll choose to look at these three All-Star selections as the guys in the game, maybe not the national writers and maybe not the pundits, but the guys in the game are giving some respect due to the Mariners.”

Huard and co-host Mike Salk took a look at the Mariners’ All-Stars on Monday.

Mitch Haniger

Quick look: Tied for second in the American League in RBIs (62). Hitting .271 with 17 home runs, 45 runs scored, a .357 on-base percentage and .847 OPS. First selection to All-Star Game.

Salk: “I was really happy for Mitch Haniger, and I was surprised probably of the three of them the most by that. Just because since he’s been in the three spot you’ve seen a little more inconsistency from him. But I think at the end of the day he gets voted in by the players. And what is it that players tend to respect? Runs driven in, man. They like the guys who produce runs. They know how hard it is to drive in runners when they’re on base. There is a skill to driving in runs and Haniger’s second in the league in doing so this year.”

Huard: “That guy has made highlight plays out in right field, he’s a difference maker there, and he’s a difference driving the ball in. The numbers don’t lie, and that’s why he’s a part of it.”

Edwin Díaz

Quick look: Owns a 2.35 ERA and 0.83 WHIP with 75 strikeouts in 46 innings and an MLB-best 35 saves. On pace for 62 saves this season, which would tie a 10-year-old MLB saves record.

Huard: “Díaz is why the Mariners are where they are. I’ve called him the most valuable player. It’s certainly not Edi Díaz’s team. It’s impossible when you’re the closer as young (24) as he is. But they’re in the position they are… because of one guy in my opinion, and that’s Edi Díaz. To see him get credit from his peers … no one’s been used more, no one’s been more effective, and no one has led their team from the back-end more than Edi Díaz has.”

Both Brock and Salk agree on one thing: There’s no way Díaz, who leads all major league pitchers with 47 appearances, should pitch in the All-Star game.

Nelson Cruz

Quick look: Leads the Mariners with 22 home runs this season (tied for sixth in the AL). Hitting .267 with a .909 OPS and 53 RBIs.

Salk: “He deserves these honors. And it kind of got forgotten about because he didn’t start out having his typical great year. He got hurt a little bit. But you look up and he’s right there in the league leaders in home runs, he’s still the most fearsome bat in this lineup, and when he goes cold for three games they are not the same offense or even close to it. At 37, that’s no joke.”

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