Voting is underway for for the final spot on the American League All-Star team. When you cast your ballot, make sure you do it right, and preferably hundreds of times by voting for the Boston Red Sox‘ Koji Uehara.
Now I realize that as a Red Sox fan, my opinion can hardly be considered unbiased. But seriously, Uehara deserves it over the other four candidates, Steve Delabar, Joaquin Benoit, David Robertson and Tanner Scheppers. For the first time since MLB added this ‘final’ spot, all five of the candidates are relief pitchers.
But what separates Uehara from the best is his versatility, the statistics and most importantly his enthusiasm.
The slogan “This Time it Counts” has been used to promote the importance of the Midsummer classic, and Uehara gives the AL the best chance to win. He has the lowest WHIP of the five candidates with a staggering 0.83. Among the fiver others, only Robertson has a WHIP under 1.00. Uehara trails only Delabar in strikeouts, and trails only Benoit in saves despite only recently being appointed closer for the Red Sox.
The race should really be a contest between Uehara and Benoit. These two separate themselves from the rest due to the fact that they have served as both closers and setup men throughout the season.
The All-Star game could easily go into extra innings, making versatile relievers like this more valuable. Both know how to hold leads and close out games when the moment is the biggest. The difference is that the Red Sox have a better record than Benoit’s Detroit Tigers, but have only three players represented on the roster compared to the Tigers’ six. Uehara should get the nod over him.
Most importantly Uehara’s enthusiasm would be an invaluable asset for the AL team. His aggressive high-fiving in the dugout gets his Red Sox teammates fired up and would no doubt have a similar effect with a dugout full of new teammates. Imagine Uehara coming in during the 10th inning of a tied game with the bases loaded and striking out three NL All-Stars.
Then imagine how crazy he’d go in the dugout, and how the players would respond to this.
Uehara’s token campaign manager is teammate David Ortiz, who put it best when he said, “I’m taking him with me to the All-Star Game. I’m taking him with me no matter what. That’s my boy.”
I’m with you, David. MLB fans from Boston to Tokyo would be wise to be with you too.