PHOENIX (AP) — Christian Walker is a two-time Gold Glove winner, helped lead his team to the World Series last season, has hit at least 33 home runs in each of the past two years and is currently on pace for about 40 homers this season.

The Arizona Diamondbacks’ first baseman is also the current Daddy of Dodger Stadium.

But the 33-year-old slugger still hasn’t been selected to an All-Star team. The trend continued on Sunday when Major League Baseball announced the NL and AL teams for the July 16 game in Arlington, Texas.

“It stings a little bit, but it is what it is,” Walker told reporters after Sunday’s win over the Padres. “Those guys deserve it. Nothing but credit to them.”

Later he added: “To be honest, I got the support and the respect of my teammates and my peers and my coaches, and nothing else really matters.”

Walker — who is batting .268 with 22 homers and 64 RBIs this season — is far from the only All-Star snub this season, but he’s among the best current players who has never made it. Other notable omissions from this year’s group include Baltimore’s Ryan Mountcastle, Jordan Westburg and Anthony Santander, Philadelphia’s Aaron Nola, San Diego’s Manny Machado and New York Yankees pitcher Luis Gil.

A few of those players — including Walker — could still find their way to Arlington for the mid-summer showdown.

A handful of current All-Stars, like Mookie Betts and Fernando Tatis Jr., will likely miss the game because of injuries. That means MLB will select replacements in the coming days.

RETURN OF THE CARDINALS

The demise of the St. Louis Cardinals might have been a short-lived phenomenon.

The Cardinals fell to 71-91 last season, finishing last in the NL Central and snapping a 15-season streak of above-.500 baseball. One year later, St. Louis appears back to its winning ways and would return the playoffs if the season ended today.

The Cardinals improved to 47-42 on Sunday after an 8-3 win over the Washington Nationals. They’re 20-14 since June 1.

The rise of shortstop Masyn Winn, second baseman Nolan Gorman and outfielders Brendan Donovan and Alec Burleson has given the team a youthful nucleus that’s helped offset down years from veterans Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado.

On the pitching mound, the Cardinals have been remarkably healthy. Miles Mikolas, Sonny Gray, Kyle Gibson and Lance Lynn have all started at least 16 games this season, giving the club some certainty that few other teams can replicate.

TRIVIA TIME

Who is the current MLB player with the highest career WAR who has never played in an All-Star game?

FANS IN THE SEATS

MLB’s recent attendance surge is continuing, and the sport could come close to averaging 30,000 fans per game for the first time since 2016.

MLB is drawing 28,707 fans per game through Saturday’s games, according to baseball-reference.com. That’s roughly 400 fans per game ahead of last year’s pace, when the sport drew 28,291 per game through early July.

This year’s average is expected to rise since the biggest draws are usually games in July and August, when the majority of the U.S. is out of school and families have more leisure time.

Arizona and Baltimore — two franchises with promising young teams — have seen their attendance jump by more than 6,000 per game this season over 2023. The biggest drop is from the New York Mets, whose crowds have plummeted by more than 6,000.

The Los Angeles Dodgers lead the league with nearly 48,000 fans per game while the Oakland Athletics — who recently announced they are relocating to Sacramento before an expected move to Las Vegas — are averaging about 7,500 fans.

TRIVIA ANSWER

Kevin Kiermaier. The 34-year-old Toronto Blue Jays’ center fielder has 36 career WAR and is a four-time Gold Glove winner. His best seasons came with the Tampa Bay Rays in the mid-2010s.

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