The slogan “This time it counts” has been used by MLB to promote its annual All-Star game. For many years now, the winning league in the Midsummer Classic has gotten home field advantage in the World Series.
Since the Boston Red Sox look like they could be contenders for the American League Championship, their fans should actively be looking to vote two ways: stuff the ballot box with terrible NL players, and the most deserving players in the AL.
Who deserves to make the team for the Red Sox this year? There are several, but some situations are more complicated than others.
David Ortiz is a no-brainer. Unlike the good old days in the steroid era, the DH position is no longer a slot for juiced up monsters that can’t field. Hardly anyone hits well at this position any more, except for Papi. He’s having another dominant season to add to his Hall of Fame resume.
Mike Napoli is having a great year. His 46 RBIs lead the Red Sox, but not AL first basemen. Chris Davis has been the best player in baseball this year not named Miguel Cabrera. He deserves to start at first. Prince Fielder has also been slightly better and is much more of a household name. Edwin Encarnacion likewise deserves the nod over Napoli, as his 16 home runs might make him the automatic selection for the last-place Toronto Blue Jays.
Dustin Pedroia not only deserves to make it, he should be starting. He won’t though, because Robinson Cano and Ian Kinsler play in bigger stadiums. They have better attendance and can stuff the ballot boxes more easily. Kinsler has only played in 40 games this season, and Cano is not as good an all-around player as Pedroia is. Regardless, Pedroia will likely make the team as a reserve.
One player who does deserve to be there but probably won’t make it is Daniel Nava. The Red Sox outfielder isn’t on the ballot (Jonny Gomes is), but he deserves strong consideration as a reserve. The top two outfielders are clearly Adam Jones and Mike Trout, but after that, you can make a case for Nava with the year he’s having. He’ll likely lose out because he’ll be up against more established names like Alex Rios, Jose Bautista, and Nick Markakis.
Clay Buchholz should not only be on the team, he should be the starting pitcher. He’s been the most dominant and consistent in the AL this year. Jon Lester also deserves to make it as a starter, but his stats put him on the fence. It’s likely that name recognition could put him on the squad.
So what do you think? Who’s deserving and who’s not? Feel free to share your comments to keep the conversation going.