For the 4th consecutive year, the Red Sox are sending at least 6 players to the All-Star Game. In none of those other years have the All-Star selections (and omissions) been this intriguing.
1st timers Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester, and Adrian Beltre will be joined by mainstays Victor Martinez, David Ortiz, and Dustin Pedroia on July 13th in Anaheim.
Annual guarantees Jonathan Papelbon and Kevin Youkilis (who can still be voted in by fans at MLB.com), did not receive the necessary votes to warrant a spot on the AL roster.
Buchholz and Lester have been the unquestioned aces of the Sox staff this season, combining for a 20-7 record with each starter boasting a sub-3 ERA. Sox fans will not be shocked to hear that this is Clay’s 1st All-Star selection. The fact that Lester hadn’t made the team after back to back 15+ win seasons: Slightly more surprising.
How about Adrian Beltre? If anyone had told me that Beltre would be a virtual lock for the AL team (and perhaps a deserving starter), I likely would have located a straitjacket and contacted the authorities. The third baseman ranks 3rd in all of baseball with his .341 batting average, and not seeing his name on the team would have brought new meaning to the word “snub”.
Undoubtedly the most questionable Sox selection is David Ortiz, whose horrendous start for the 2nd straight season brought up legitimate questions about his overall value as a Major League hitter. But since the beginning of May, Big Papi has launched 16 home runs and knocked in 50 runs, making him one of the most productive hitters in baseball over the last 2 months.
Despite their respective honors, Martinez (thumb) and Pedroia (foot) will be watching the game from a couch (unclear whether it will be the same one). Both have suffered broken bones in the last 2 weeks and their ultimate health will be vital for Boston throughout the 2nd half.
Buchholz will not see action in the mid-summer classic either; He was placed on the DL on Monday with a strained hamstring suffered while running the bases in San Francisco last weekend.
I’ll admit that the prospect of watching only half of Boston’s All-Stars next week is far from enticing. The addition of Kevin Youkilis could help to change that.
Youk is in the midst of another excellent offensive season (.299, 17 HR, 54 RBI), and it would be shame for a player with the 3rd best on-base percentage (.416) in the AL to miss out. He’s clearly had a better and much more consistent year than David Ortiz, but the All-Star Game comes down to a popularity contest among fans and players alike.
His competition for the final fan vote: Nick Swisher (NYY), Paul Konerko (CHW), Michael Young (TEX), and Delmon Young (MIN). Granted, all of those players have had productive seasons to this point (otherwise they wouldn’t be part of the vote), but Youkilis is easily the most established and best all-around hitter of the five.
If you can’t stand to see Youk sweat it out (and there will be plenty of sweat regardless), vote for him here. Trust me, with Dusty and V-Mart out of commission, one more Boston bat in Anaheim couldn’t hurt.