Bieber, who was roughly league-average as a rookie last season, made the All-Star team as a replacement for Texas’ Mike Minor, who was ineligible after pitching on Sunday. Indians starter Trevor Bauer, the major league leader in innings pitched, said Bieber was throwing a bit harder this season and had greatly improved his changeup.
“His slider and curveball are largely the same, but his command is impeccable,” Bauer said in a text message Tuesday night. “And he’s getting better pretty rapidly with understanding how to work through lineups multiple times and how to recognize what adjustments hitters are making to his approach within a game. He’s a bright kid, a sponge for information, and he listens. Pretty good combo overall.”
Bieber, 24, was at his best on Tuesday, fanning Willson Contreras with a fastball, Ketel Marte with a curveball and Ronald Acuna Jr. with a slider. A native of Laguna Hills, Calif., he chose a red Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LT Trail Boss as his prize because it seemed more mobile than the other option, a white Silverado 2500 HD High Country.
“I didn’t really know what to think,” Bieber said, when asked for his reaction to winning. “Kind of lost all feeling in my body.”
The All-Star Game began in 1933, but only two others had won the M.V.P. in their home park: Alomar here in 1997 and Pedro Martinez in Boston two years later.
“That’s incredible,” Bieber said. “I don’t think it’s hit me, and I don’t know when it will.”
For baseball, the All-Star stage was a chance to showcase young talent like Bieber and the Mets rookie Pete Alonso, who won Monday’s Home Run Derby and drove in two runs with a single on Tuesday. But it was also a national platform to recognize Tyler Skaggs, the Los Angeles Angels pitcher who died at 27 in his hotel room on the team’s trip to Texas last week. (The cause of death has not been announced.)
The league held a moment of silence after player introductions, and most All-Stars wore a black patch with Skaggs’ No. 45 over their hearts. The two Angels at the game, Mike Trout and the injured Tommy LaStella, have not been back to Anaheim since Skaggs died, and wore 45 instead of their usual jersey numbers.