Sandy Alcantara Sweeps All First-Place Votes to Win National League Cy Young Award

It’s a clean sweep for Sandy Alcantara

The 27-year-old Dominican professional baseball pitcher for the Miami Marlins has become the first unanimous Cy Young Award winner in the National League since Clayton Kershaw in 2014.

Sandy Alcantara Alcantara, a right-hander, swept all 30 first-place votes to beat out Atlanta Braves lefty Max Fried and Los Angeles Dodgers southpaw Julio Urias to become the first Cy Young winner in Marlins history.

With Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander also winning the AL Cy Young by unanimous vote, this marks just the second time that both Cy Young winners were unanimous. Bob Gibson and Denny McLain also won unanimously in 1968, one year after the award started to be given out to both leagues.

In this age of five-inning starters, Alcantara stood out like a unicorn: He pitched 228⅔ innings, 23⅔ more than other pitcher in the majors, and the most innings since David Price threw 230 in 2016. He threw six complete games — more than any other team. He pitched at least eight innings in 14 of his 32 starts, the most such games since 2014. His 8.0 WAR easily topped Aaron Nola’s 6.0 as the best in the NL and ranked as the best in Marlins history, ahead of Kevin Brown‘s 7.9 in 1996.

“I’m very happy with the type of season I was able to have this season,” Alcantara said in a video released when he won the Players Choice Award as the outstanding NL pitcher. “It’s like I’ve always told the media: My mentality is to be a lion on the mound, finish all my starts.”

Here’s another way to view Alcantara’s award: He had 16 starts of more than seven innings when you add in his two 7⅔-inning outings. Fried and Urias combined for just two outings of more than seven innings. It wasn’t just his ability to pitch deep into games that made Alcantara the Cy Young winner, however. His 2.28 ERA ranked second in the NL behind Urias’ 2.16, and he held batters to a .212 average with some of the most electric stuff in the majors.

“He’s throwing 100-plus mph and he’s got movement on that fastball,” St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt said.

Indeed, Alcantara averaged just under 98 mph with his fastball (he throws both a four-seamer and sinker), but his game plan is a little different from a lot of modern pitchers. He induces a lot of soft contact rather than just racking up strikeouts — and thus avoids the high pitch counts that result from a lot of deep counts. As a result, he led all starters in averaging just 14.2 pitches per inning, allowing him to go deep into games. He still managed 207 strikeouts, including a season-high 14 in an eight-inning win over the Braves on May 28. “Sometimes with Sandy it looks like pitch and catch,” then-Marlins manager Don Mattingly said after that dominating victory.

Originally signed by the Cardinals out of the Dominican Republic, the Marlins acquired Alcantara after the 2017 season in a trade that sent Marcell Ozuna to St. Louis. Alcantara made the MLB All-Star team in 2019, his first full season in the majors, when he finished with a 3.88 ERA, and then had a big breakout in 2021, when he went 9-15 with a 3.19 ERA in 205 innings.

An improved changeup took him to another level this season, as batters hit just .145 against it with no home runs in 248 at-bats. It’s a power change that averaged 91.8 mph — yes, a 92 mph changeup. According to Statcast metrics, his changeup saved 25 runs, the most valuable changeup in the game in 2022.

Maybe the highlight of Alcantara’s season wasn’t one of his seven scoreless outings, but a 4-3 victory over the Cardinals on June 29. Leading 4-3 with runners at first and second and one out in the ninth and Alcantara at 115 pitches, Mattingly came out to apparently remove him from the game. Alcantara talked himself into staying in and two pitches later induced to a double play to end it.

“When he came to me, I said, ‘I got it. I got it.’ I think he has too much confidence in me to finish the game,” Alcantara said after that win. “I don’t have to worry when I have men on base. I know I can throw a strike and get a double play.”

“He said he had it, and he did,” Mattingly said. “I wasn’t going to promise him two hitters, but I gave him that one. He’s pretty special.”

Special enough that the extension the Marlins signed him to last November that runs through 2027 now looks like a bargain. With the Marlins now having a Cy Young winner, the only franchises without one are the Texas Rangers and Colorado Rockies.

Julio Rodriguez Named American League Rookie of the Year

Julio Rodriguez’s banner year is ending with an exclamation point…

The 21-year-old Dominican professional baseball player, an outfielder for the Seattle Mariners, has been named the American League Rookie of the Year in near-unanimous fashion.

Julio RodriguezIt was a fitting cap to a stirring campaign that saw J-Rod dazzle at the Home Run Derby, perform among the sport’s best players and propel the Mariners to a long-awaited trip to the playoffs.

Rodriguez received 29 of 30 first-place votes from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, with Baltimore Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman receiving the other. Cleveland Guardians left fielder Steven KwanKansas City Royals infielder Bobby Witt Jr. and Houston Astros shortstop Jeremy Pena finished third, fourth and fifth, respectively, in the voting.

Rodriguez electrified the city of Seattle and captivated an entire nation of baseball fans with his youthful exuberance, pronounced swagger and wide-ranging talent. He slashed .284/.345/.509, leading all rookies in homers (28), OPS (.855) and total bases (260) while helping the Mariners clinch their first postseason berth since 2001, snapping the longest active drought among the four major North American professional sports.

Along the way, Rodriguez consistently came through in big spots, dazzling with his defense, power and speed. His 5.3 FanGraphs wins above replacement tied that of Rutschman for the rookie lead and was topped by only 21 position players throughout the sport.

Rodriguez, who added 25 stolen bases and 25 doubles, is now the fifth Mariners player to win rookie of the year, after Alvin Davis (1984), Kazuhiro Sasaki (2000), Ichiro Suzuki (2001) and Kyle Lewis (2020).

Only two other players since 1900 have accumulated at least 28 home runs, 25 stolen bases and 25 doubles in their age-21-or-younger seasons — Mike Trout and Andruw Jones.

Rodriguez is the first player ever to combine 25 home runs with 25 stolen bases in his first season in the big leagues and the third to do so while still rookie eligible, along with Trout and Chris Young, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

The Mariners envisioned Rodriguez as a potential star when they signed him out of the Dominican Republic for $1.75 million in the summer of 2017, but he profiled more as a power-hitting corner outfielder. Rodriguez worked to become a five-tool center fielder, zooming through the Mariners’ minor league system — despite losing an entire season to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 — and cracking the team’s Opening Day roster this spring.

Before the end of August, the Mariners rewarded Rodriguez with a long-term extension that will pay him anywhere between $210 million and $470 million over the life of his career, an unprecedented — and highly incentivized — contract for someone with less than a full year of major league service time.

But before all that came struggle. Rodriguez went homerless with a .544 OPS during his first month in the big leagues. But he recovered well enough to become the only rookie to make the MLB All-Star team.

“I feel like that’s when I learned the most — on the down parts,” Rodriguez said during a video conference with the media after winning the award. “That rough start to the beginning, whenever I maybe was not doing so good, all those things that happened that first year that kind of opened my eyes — I’m gonna take all that. And I know it’s gonna serve me well along my career.”

Giovanny Gallegos Agrees to $11 Million, Two-Year Contract with St. Louis Cardinals

It’s Lucky No. 11 for Giovanny Gallegos

The 31-year-old Mexican professional baseball pitcher and reliever has agreed to an $11 million, two-year contract with the St. Louis Cardinals, a deal that includes a club option for 2025 and escalators that could make it worth $20.5 million over three seasons.

Giovanny GallegosGallegos, a right-hander, is 3-5 with a 2.91 ERA and 14 saves in 20 chances this season. He has 72 strikeouts and 15 walks in 58⅔ innings.

“I feel so happy,” Gallegos said Monday before the Cardinals played the Pirates in Pittsburgh. “I don’t have the word for exactly how I’m feeling.”

He was obtained from the New York Yankees in July 2018 along with left-hander Chasen Shreve in the trade that sent first baseman Luke Voit to New York. Gallegos is 14-15 with a 3.02 ERA and 34 saves in six major league seasons.

“Since joining the Cardinals organization in 2018, Gio has been a consistent and significant contributor to our bullpen, and we look forward to him continuing to be an important piece moving forward,” Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said in a news release.

Gallegos gets a $500,000 signing bonus and salaries of $4.5 million next year and $5.5 million in 2024. St. Louis has a $6.5 million team option for 2025 with a $500,000 buyout.

His 2025 option price can increase by up to $3.5 million for games finished in 2024: $500,000 each for 20-25 and 26-30 and 31-35, and $1 million apiece for 36-40 and 41 or more.

He would get $250,000 for winning the Rivera/Hoffman reliever of the year award, $50,000 for All-Star selection and World Series MVP and $25,000 for League Championship Series MVP.

Gallegos has a $2.41 million salary this year.

He was eligible for salary arbitration and is potentially eligible for free agency after the 2024 season.

Julio Rodriguez Agrees to Massive Long-Term Deal with Seattle Mariners that Could Max Out at $470 Million

Julio Rodriguez has finalized a historic payday…

The 21-year-old Dominican professional baseball player, nicknamed “J-Rod,” has finalized a massive long-term extension deal with the Seattle Mariners that guarantees him $210 million and could max out at $470 million, which would be the richest deal in American sports history, sources told ESPN on Friday.

Julio RodriguezThe Mariners announced the deal on Friday before Rodriguez’s at-bat in the sixth inning of Seattle’s 3-2 win over the Cleveland Guardians, and he received a standing ovation from the crowd of 39,870. In a news release announcing the agreement, the team called it a “historic day for Julio and Mariners fans.”

“This is a great day for my family and me,” Rodriguez said in a statement. “I have always wanted to spend my whole career here, in Seattle, with this team and with these fans. I want to win here, in Seattle. That was what I told my agents, and what I told [president of baseball operations] Jerry [Dipoto]. I am so happy to be here.”

The base deal is for $120 million and lasts through the 2029 season, sources said.

Following the 2028 season, the Mariners can exercise an option for an additional eight or 10 years, depending on where Rodriguez finishes in MVP voting in the preceding seasons.

If the Mariners turn down the option, Rodriguez can exercise a five-year, $90 million player option after the 2029 season or hit free agency just shy of his 30th birthday.

The Mariners’ option is where the potential money can grow into a historically large figure. If Rodriguez maxes out his MVP escalators, Seattle’s option would be for 10 years and $350 million, taking the total value of the deal to $470 million through 2039. The lowest level would be for eight years and $200 million on top of the original $120 million, keeping Rodriguez tied to the Mariners through 2037.

“Julio is among the most exciting players in the game and has only scratched the surface of what’s to come,” Dipoto said in a statement. “We feel the uniqueness of this deal befits the person. His infectious personality and ability on the field are only surpassed by his character away from it. We are thrilled that generations of Mariners fans will have the privilege of watching him play in T-Mobile Park for many years to come.”

Rodriguez, a powerful and fast center fielder, became one of the most exciting players in baseball when he made the Mariners’ Opening Day roster. His dynamic skills and big personality endeared him to a Seattle community that hasn’t seen the Mariners make a postseason in two decades.

With an MLB All-Star Game selection, an epic Home Run Derby performance and a .267/.326/.467 line with 20 home runs and 23 stolen bases, Rodriguez has made perhaps an even bigger impact than anticipated.

“He’s learned a lot over the last 4½, five months about Major League Baseball and things he needed to work on and continue to improve upon,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said Friday. “Really good teammate. I mean, you can go on and on describing where he’s at. But there’s a lot of baseball, really good baseball ahead of him, and I know that’s what excites me and the organization.”

Signed as an amateur out of the Dominican Republic for $1.75 million in July 2017, Rodriguez was seen by scouts as a prototypical corner outfielder who could hit for power. What he has blossomed into, particularly over the past two years, is a true five-tool player with elite speed and the range for center field without sacrificing any of the power that remains one of his calling cards.

The Mariners broke camp with Rodriguez in center field. He struggled in April, striking out 30 times in 73 at-bats without a home run. Since then, Rodriguez has been one of the top players in baseball and the best on a Mariners team that is 69-57 and 2½ games ahead of the Baltimore Orioles for the final American League wild-card spot.

His deal, which was first reported by MLB.com, guarantees him the most money for a player with less than one full year in the major leagues. San Diego signed Fernando Tatis Jr. to a 14-year, $340 million contract after his second season, and the Tampa Bay Rays guaranteed $182 million over 11 seasons to shortstop Wander Franco last winter.

Rodriguez is seventh this season in Baseball-Reference wins above replacement and 16th in FanGraphs’ version. Provided he finishes high in MVP voting in future seasons, his deal is likelier to resemble that of Tatis.

While the 10-year version of Seattle’s option would necessitate consistently high MVP finishes, an eight-year, $280 million version — which would guarantee Rodriguez $400 million — is very attainable.

The potential record-setting nature of the $470 million ceiling could soon be eclipsed. Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani is set to reach free agency after the 2023 season. A year later, Padres star Juan Soto, who turned down a guaranteed $440 million from the Washington Nationals before they traded him, could be a free agent right after he turns 26.

Oakland A’s Pitcher Frankie Montas Acquired by New York Yankees

Frankie Montas is heading to the Northeast…

The 29-year-old Dominican professional baseball right-handed, starting pitcher has been acquired by the New York Yankees, alongside part-Latino closer Lou Trivino in a deal with the Oakland Athletics.

Frankie MontasThe A’s are receiving left-handers Ken Waldichuk and J.P. Sears, right-hander Luis Medina and second baseman Cooper Bowman from the Yankees. Waldichuk, 24, was the fifth-highest-ranked prospect in the Yankees’ farm system, according to MLB.com.

The American League-best Yankees have had a busy deadline, acquiring outfielder Andrew Benintendi and rookie reliever Scott Effross before solidifying an already strong rotation and bullpen with the acquisitions of Montas and Trivino.

The trade for Montas is the second involving a highly sought-after starting pitcher this week, following Seattle’s acquisition of right-hander Luis Castillo from the Cincinnati Reds for a four-prospect package.

Montas, who is not eligible for free agency until after the 2023 season, has shown flashes of excellence since signing with Boston in 2009. He was traded to the Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers before moving to Oakland, where he blossomed over the past six seasons into the pitcher who this season has 104⅔ innings of 3.18 ERA ball with 109 strikeouts, 28 walks and a dozen home runs allowed.

“His level of talent, especially with how he’s pitched the last couple years, just excited to get him in the mix,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “He’s got the full arsenal and stuff you look for top of the rotation guy. Gone out and proved last couple years he is that kind of caliber pitcher.”

A shoulder injury sidelined Montas for a mid-July start, but he returned with three shutout innings, followed by a five-inning, two-earned-run start against Houston. That was enough of a sample to draw a broad range of teams — large-market and small.

”I think we’re comfortable with where he’s at shoulder-wise,” Boone said.

Montas joins a rotation headed by MLB All-Stars Gerrit Cole (9-3, 3.30 ERA) and Nestor Cortes (9-3, 2.53 ERA) that has faltered of late.

Left-hander Jordan Montgomery is 0-2 with a 5.36 ERA in his last eight starts and right-hander Jameson Taillon is 1-1 with a 5.04 ERA in his last five. Luis Severino has not pitched since July 13 because of a lat strain and was moved to the 60-day injured list Monday along with right-handed reliever Miguel Castro, out since July 10 with a strained right shoulder.

Going into Monday night’s series opener against Seattle, Domingo German had an 8.22 ERA in his first two starts after recovering from a right shoulder impingement.

By winning the Montas sweepstakes, the Yankees add a starter who will slot into a playoff rotation with a fastball-slider-splitter pitch mix that has proved effective all season. Montas went at least five innings in 15 of his first 16 starts, with the only exception being a game in which he got hit in the hand on a comebacker and left the game after 1⅔ innings.

Trivino, a 30-year-old right-hander, is 1-6 with a 6.47 ERA — double his 2021 figure — and 10 saves in 13 chances. Right-handed batters are hitting .289 against him this year while lefties are hitting .392 with nine walks in 60 plate appearances.

“Little bit down year statistically but we don’t think it lines up with what we’re seeing on some underlying things and who we think he is,” Boone said. “He’s been a very good reliever for them on some playoff-caliber teams.”

Trivino joins one of the better bullpens in the majors, but one that has struggled with injuries of late. Chad GreenMichael King and Zack Britton are all on the 60-day injured list with Green and King expected to miss the rest of the season.

Waldichuk, who is pitching at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, is 6-3 with a 2.71 ERA overall in 17 starts for two clubs in the Yankees’ minor league system this season and has 116 strikeouts in 76⅓ innings.

Sears, 26, is 3-0 with a 2.05 ERA in 22 innings for the Yankees in the majors this season and is 1-1 with a 1.67 ERA in 43 innings in Triple-A. Medina, 23, is 4-3 with a 3.38 ERA in 17 starts for Double-A Somerset this season.

Bowman, 22, is hitting .217 with eight home runs and 35 RBIs for Class-A Hudson Valley this season.

The Yankees also optioned right-hander Clarke Schmidt to Scranton and promoted right-hander Carlos Espinal from the RailRiders.

Giancarlo Stanton Named MLB All-Star Game’s Most Valuable Player

It’s a (most-valuable) performance to remember for Giancarlo Stanton

The 32-year-old part-Puerto Rican professional baseball designated hitter and New York Yankee outfielder was named MVP 2022 MLB All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday, after leading the American League to a 3-2 win over the National League squad.

Giancarlo StantonStanton earned the honor after going 1-for-2 with a two-run homer that tied the game in the fourth inning.

It was the American League’s ninth consecutive win over the National League.

Byron Buxton of the Minnesota Twins followed with the go-ahead solo blast. Stanton, a Los Angeles native, was given the nod in his hometown.

Stanton was playing in his fifth career All-Star Game and his first since 2017, which is the same season he was named NL MVP. He is now the third Yankees player ever to be named All-Star Game MVP, joining Derek Jeter in 2000 and Mariano Rivera in 2013.

Tuesday’s game was expected to be an offensive showcase but instead was dominated by pitching. The NL took a 2-0 lead in the first inning but failed to record another hit until the eighth inning. The AL totaled eight hits, but never really threatened to put more runs on the board outside of the fireworks in the fourth inning.

For Stanton, Tuesday’s performance continued a strong 2022 season. He is batting .237 this year with 24 home runs, 61 RBI and a .835 OPS. He’s been a key part of New York’s success.

The Yankees have the best record in the majors at 64-28 with a 13-game lead in the AL East. With the second half of the season on the horizon, New York has its eyes set on the postseason as it hopes to make it back to the World Series since its last championship win in 2009,

With Stanton helping to lead the charge, the Yankees are in position to do just that.

Juan Soto Wins This Year’s Home Run Derby

Juan Soto is officially a batting champion…

The 23-year-old Dominican professional baseball outfielder won $1 million on Monday with a swing that’s worth much more.

Juan SotoShaking off trade rumors that threatened to sully his MLB All-Star week, Soto beat a legend and held off a rookie to win the Home Run Derby and the big-money prize that accompanied it in front of a sold-out Dodger Stadium crowd.

After recently turning down a 15-year, $440 million contract extension from the Washington Nationals, Soto arrived in Los Angeles early Monday morning with his future in doubt ahead of the August 2 trade deadline. He emerged unbothered. When asked before the Derby whether he was going to win it, his answer was characteristically Soto: “Probably.” And on that prediction he came through, vanquishing Albert Pujols in the semifinals and Julio Rodriguez in the finals.

“I’m a lone survivor,” Soto said. “I’ve been going through all this stuff, and I’m still here standing up and with my chin up, all the time. And that shows you I can go through anything.”

Anything, in this case, included a day of answering questions he can’t possibly answer, including whether the Nationals will trade him before the August 2 deadline or where he might wind up. Soto instead worried about his powerful left-handed swing, shooting balls to all fields and finishing the finals with 19 home runs to the 18 of his Dominican Republic countryman Rodríguez.

Juan SotoAt 23 years, 266 days old, Soto became the second-youngest Derby champion — just a day older than 1993 winner Juan Gonzalez.

Until the finals, the Derby had been the latest episode of the J-Rod Show. Rodriguez, the precocious 21-year-old Seattle Mariners outfielder, ambushed the field Monday night, ousting the two-time defending champion and smashing 81 home runs.

The first hitter of the night, Rodriguez set the tone for his showing with 32 home runs in his first-round matchup against the Texas Rangers Corey Seager. Then came Pete Alonso, the New York Mets slugger who won the last two competitions in 2019 and 2021 but mustered only 23 home runs in the semifinals, well short of Rodriguez’s 31.

Then came his matchup with Soto, against whom, Rodriguez said, he used to play Call of Duty games. Rodriguez was better at COD. Soto, at least on Monday, was superior at HRD.

“What did I show the fans?” Rodriguez said. “Who I am, I guess. They know a little bit now.”

Rodriguez, who is earning the MLB minimum salary of $700,000 this year, received a $500,000 bonus as the runner-up.

Soto was locked in from the beginning, beating Cleveland Guardians third baseman Jose Ramirez in the first round and St. Louis Cardinals great Pujols in the semifinals.

Pujols, 42, is in his final season — and upset Philadelphia‘s Kyle Schwarber, the No. 1 seed, in the first round, beating him in an overtime period. He couldn’t keep up with Soto, whose 482-foot home run in the first round was the longest of the night.

“I wasn’t sure if I should beat him or let him beat me, but just the respect — I respect him a lot,” Soto said. “Even though I beat him at the end of the day, it’s just a competition. He knows how much I’m proud of him and how much talent he brings to all the generations and advice that he gives to us.”

Whatever Soto’s future, wherever he winds up, whether he’s moved before this deadline or after, he said he would walk away from this All-Star week sure of one thing.

“I will be a Home Run Derby champion forever,” he said.

J.D. Martinez Added to MLB All-Star Game Roster

J.D. Martinez is getting his all-star moment after all…

The 34-year-old Cuban American professional baseball player, a designated hitter for the Boston Red Sox, has been added to the MLB All-Star Game rosters, according to the league.

J.D. Martinez Martinez is part of a roster of new additions that includes Garrett Cooper, and an Francisco Giants ace Carlos Rodon.

Martinez replaces Houston Astros slugger Yordan Alvarez and becomes the third Boston Red Sox player to land on the American League roster along with Xander Bogaerts and have been added to the All-Star rosters, MLB announced Tuesday.

Cooper steps in for reigning National League MVP Bryce Harper. The Philadelphia Phillies‘ star has a fractured thumb. Cooper gives the Miami Marlins three All-Stars as he joins teammates Sandy Alcantara and Jazz Chisholm Jr. 

Rodon was one of the more notable snubs when rosters were announced, but he ends up making his second All-Star appearance by replacing Milwaukee Brewers closer Josh Hader, who has family responsibilities.

Rodon (8-5, 2.70 ERA) was selected by the league to fill in for Hader, while Martinez and Cooper were next up in voting at their positions. This is the fifth time Martinez has been an All-Star, but the first time for Cooper.

Dodger Stadium will host the MLB All-Star Game next Tuesday night at 7:30 pm ET.

Bad Bunny to Compete in This Year’s MLB All-Star Celebrity Softball Game

Bad Bunny’s getting in the game…

The 28-year-old Puerto Rican superstar has been added to the 2022 MLB All-Star Celebrity Softball Game roster, which is set to take place on Saturday, July 16, at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.

Bad Bunny

The “Me Porto Bonito” singer was announced on Monday (July 11) along with a batch of new artists added to the roster that are set to play ball.

Other new celebrities confirmed include actors Bryan Cranston and J.K. Simmons; rapper and chef Action Bronson; four-time all-star and two-time World Series Champion Hunter Pence; and two-time All-Star Shawn Green.

They join a lineup that already includes Quavo, JoJo Siwa, Anthony Ramos, Rob Lowe, Chloe Kim, CC Sabathia and Simu Liu, among others. The first 10,000 fans to enter the ballpark — gates open at 2 p.m. local time — will receive a special All-Star Player Replica Ring presented by FTX, according to a press release.

Game night will culminate with a special performance from chart-topping artist and California-native Becky G for the All-Star Saturday Extra Innings concert presented by MGM Rewards. Tickets are now available here.

The All-Star Celebrity Softball Game, which will be produced by MLB Network, will stream live on YouTube, Peacock, Pluto TV, Bleacher Report and across MLB’s social platforms. MLB Network will air the game on Monday, July 18, at 10:30 p.m. ET, marking the first time MLB Network has televised it.

News of Bad Bunny taking the field comes as his latest album, Un Verano Sin Ti, captures a fourth nonconsecutive week at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart (dated July 16).

The set holds at No. 1, notching its first set of back-to-back weeks in the lead. The effort earned 111,000 equivalent album units in the U.S. in the week ending July 7 (down 4%), according to Luminate.

Later this month, the hitmaker will kick off his summer tour with three back-to-back concerts at El Coliseo de Puerto Rico.

Albert Pujols to Participate in This Year’s MLB All-Star Game

Albert Pujols is getting another All-Star moment…

The 42-year-old Dominican-American professional baseball first baseman and designated hitter for the St. Louis Cardinals will take part in the 2022 MLB All-Star Game, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has announced.

Albert PujolsBut he isn’t the only living baseball legend getting called up…

Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers will also participate.

Pujols, Cabrera and Hall of Famer Hank Aaron are the only players in MLB history to register 3,000 hits, 500 home runs and 600 doubles.

“I am delighted that Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera have agreed to participate in the All-Star Game,” Manfred said in a statement. “Albert and Miguel are two of the most accomplished players of their generation. They have also represented the baseball traditions of the Dominican Republic and Venezuela with excellence for the last two decades. Albert and Miguel are two all-time greats whose achievements warrant this special recognition.”

It’s the 11th MLB All-Star selection for Pujols, who is in his 22nd MLB season. He ranks fifth in MLB history with 683 home runs and ninth with 3,326 career hits.

“If there is one game for the fans to celebrate the history and longevity, it’s the All-Star Game,” said Chicago White Sox manager Tony LaRussa, who was Pujols’ manager in St. Louis for seven years. “Anything like that [being selected to participate in the All-Star Game], I’m all in favor of.”

Cabrera, 39, reached 3,000 career hits earlier this season. He’ll be appearing in his 12th All-Star Game.

The slugger called Pujols “one of the best hitters I’ve ever seen in my life.”

“To be part of this together is going to be great,” he said Friday.

The All-Star Game will be held at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Tuesday, July 19.