(ATTN: ADDS details on All-Star event in last 5 paras)
By Yoo Jee-ho
SEOUL, Sept. 7 (Yonhap) -- The Lotte Giants' shortstop Dixon Machado has topped the All-Star fan voting, becoming only the second foreign player to do so in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO).
The KBO unveiled 12 starters for each All-Star squad on Monday, and Machado, the first-year Venezuelan player, led everyone with 849,441 votes. He joins former Giants' star Karim Garcia (678,557 votes in 2008) as the only non-Korean players to win fan voting.
In late July, the KBO announced plans to hold All-Star voting even in the absence of the actual game in order to keep fans engaged and give them a chance to show their support for their favorite players.
The All-Star Game had been scheduled for July 25 but was canceled for this year. The start of the regular season was pushed back by more than a month to May 5 due to the coronavirus outbreak, and in an attempt to squeeze the usual 144 games into a tighter calendar, the league decided to scrap the All-Star Game.
Machado is batting .291/.361/.447 with nine home runs and 51 RBIs this year, but it's been his defense that has turned heads across the KBO and endeared him to the Giants' fans. With Machado providing highlight-reel plays and offering much-needed stability up the middle, the Giants are trying to return to the postseason after finishing dead last in 2019. They are 5.5 games back of the final playoff spot after the weekend's action.
The All-Star teams are the Dream Team, made up of players from the Doosan Bears, SK Wyverns, KT Wiz, Samsung Lions and Lotte Giants, and the Nanum Team, with players from the Kiwoom Heroes, LG Twins, NC Dinos, Kia Tigers and Hanwha Eagles.
The 12 positions to be filled are: starting pitcher, middle reliever, closer, catcher, first baseman, second baseman, third baseman, shortstop, left fielder, center fielder, right fielder and designated hitter.
The top vote-getters at each position will wear an All-Star patch on their uniforms the rest of the season.
For the Nanum Team, the Heroes' outfielder Lee Jung-hoo was the top vote-getter with 831,755. Machado and Lee will each receive 1 million won (US$843) for leading their squad in votes, and 22 other All-Stars will get 500,000 won each.
Joining Machado on the Dream Team are starting pitcher Dan Straily (Giants); reliever Koo Seung-min (Giants); closer Kim Won-jung (Giants); catcher Kang Min-ho (Lions); first baseman Kang Baek-ho (Wiz); second baseman Kim Sang-su (Lions); third baseman Choi Jeong (Wyverns); outfielders Mel Rojas Jr. (Wiz), Kim Jae-hwan (Bears) and Son Ah-seop (Giants); and designated hitter Jose Miguel Fernandez (Bears).
The Nanum Team members other than Lee are starting pitcher Koo Chang-mo (Dinos), reliever Park Jun-pyo (Tigers), closer Cho Sang-woo (Heroes), catcher Yang Eui-ji (Dinos), first baseman Kang Jin-sung (Dinos), second baseman Kim Sun-bin (Tigers), third baseman Kim Min-sung (Twins), shortstop Kim Ha-seong (Heroes), outfielders Kim Hyun-soo (Twins) and Preston Tucker (Tigers) and designated hitter Na Sung-bum (Dinos).
The Giants produced the most All-Stars with five, followed by the Dinos with four and the Heroes and the Tigers with three each. The Hanwha Eagles were the only club without an All-Star starter.
Of note, Kang Min-ho earned his 10th All-Star starting nod, and Kim Hyun-soo has been voted in for his sixth consecutive All-Star team.
In lieu of an All-Star Game, the KBO will run a virtual "All-Star Race" from Tuesday to Sept. 27.
The two All-Star squads will be competing against each other based on individual players' win probability added (WPA), an advanced statistic that measures a player's contribution to a team's victory. On each game day during the event, the team with the most WPA will earn a point. The side with more points through Sept. 27 will be declared the winner.
After the end of the race, the MVP will be selected in a media vote, with the recipient set to take home a trophy and 2 million won in prize money, plus a gold bar worth 700,000 won, courtesy of Shinhan Bank, the KBO's title sponsor.
During this period, the All-Star Home Run Derby will take place, too. Players will earn points for their home runs -- for instance, a grand slam is worth four points and a three-run home run is worth three points, and so forth -- and the one with the highest point total will receive a 700,000-won gold bar.
The WPA totals and home run race will be updated daily on KBO's official website.
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