Voting for the 2014 MLB All-Star game ends this week, with the starters being announced Sunday on ESPN. Based on the most recent update on fan voting results, the Boston Red Sox seem unlikely to have a position player start the game in Minneapolis. However, due to baseball's archaic rule that each team must be represented by at least one player, we can be assured that the defending World Champions will have a presence in this game. Whether it be a bench player or a pitcher to be selected later, a Red Sox player will make the All-Star game. The question is, who?
Given that Boston has the lowest scoring team in the American League, it should come as no shock if none of the Red Sox hitters get selected to the All-Star game. None of the team's hitters rank higher than 3rd at their position in WAR, which would seem to put even their best options on the fringe of making the team.
Dustin Pedroia is a 4-time All-Star, but is struggling through his worst season at the plate. His defense has still been among the best for second basemen, which has boosted his WAR (3.0) to 3rd in the AL at his position. However, Seattle's Robinson Cano is running away with the fan voting and both Detroit's Ian Kinslar and Houston's Jose Altuve are having better seasons. If Pedroia is selected as a reserve it would only be if the team selected three second basemen and only if his reputation pushed him ahead of Altuve.
David Ortiz is second in fan voting for the DH position, but he trails Baltimore's Nelson Cruz by nearly 1 million votes, so he's not likely to pass him. With several deserving candidates at each position, there may not even be much of a need for a backup DH. If one is selected, Detroit's Victor Martinez would be a better choice. Perhaps the 9-time All-Star will get in based on his reputation. Plus, if you're looking for an option to pinch hit in a clutch moment at the end of the game, there aren't too many players that you would want up in that spot more than Big Papi.
The wild card could be Brock Holt, who leads the team with a .317 batting average. His versatility also makes him an asset in an All-Star game because you could essentially move him around almost anywhere. Yet he has zero track record of performing at this level and doesn't even have enough plate appearances yet to qualify for the batting title. Red Sox fans may happily add him as a write in vote on their ballot, but he has very little chance of making the team.
Boston's All-Star representative is more likely to come from it's pitching staff. The Red Sox are 4th in the AL in team ERA, 2nd in Quality Starts and 2nd in bullpen ERA.
The most likely choice on the Red Sox roster to make the All-Star game is Koji Uehara. Boston's closer has converted 18 of 19 save situations while posting a 1.40 ERA, 0.75 WHIP and striking out 49 batters in 38.2 innings this season. He's been the best closer in the AL, so he's the closest thing to a lock for making the team that the Red Sox have.
The only Sox starter with a legit chance of being selected is Jon Lester. He's tied for 5th in the AL in Wins (9), 7th in strikeouts (115), 8th in innings pitched (114.0) and 9th in ERA (2.92). That puts him comfortably in the top 10 among AL starters, but there won't be 10 starters on the team. Last year there were only 5 starters that were eligible to play in the game (after subtracting the injured starters and those that pitched the Sunday before the game and were therefore ineligible to pitch in the All-Star game). Lester is right on the cusp of being one of the league's top 5 starters, so he has a chance to claim one of the final spots given to starting pitchers. If one of the other top starters skips the game due to injury or is ineligible due to starting the last game before the break, it increases Lester's chances.
We know that a Red Sox player will be selected to represent the team in this year's All-Star game – we just don't know which one yet. Despite the team's struggles this year they still have a few worthy candidates that could be in the mix for a spot on the team.
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