The Boston Red Sox have nine position players on this year’s All-Star Game ballot, but there are only a couple who deserve your vote to play at Citi Field in New York.
Boston has gotten off to a fantastic start to the 2013 Major League Baseball season, winning 18-of-26 games in April and holding a 2.5-game lead in the AL East heading into May. The Red Sox have had great contributions from their offense and their pitching staff.
But while starting pitchers Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester both look to be early candidates to make the American League squad, Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland will have to select them. For the starting nine, though, it’s up to you, the fan.
On this year’s ballot—representing Boston—are Mike Napoli, Dustin Pedroia, Stephen Drew, Will Middlebrooks, Jonny Gomes, Jacoby Ellsbury, Shane Victorino and David Ortiz. But through the first month of the season, some players have looked much better than others and have already made a case toward securing your vote.
So which players from Boston’s starting nine should you vote for? Here are a few suggestions.
Dustin Pedroia, Second Baseman
The Red Sox have a franchise second baseman in Dustin Pedroia and there’s an argument to be made that he’s the best second baseman in baseball. I’m not saying that Pedroia would win that debate, but it’s at least worth discussing.
The ballot is the time when fans can say who they think is better. Is Pedroia the top second baseman in the American League or is it someone else? This is how the former Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player matches up against the competition, according to FanGraphs.
In my opinion, the vote will likely come down to Cano and Pedroia. It’s not that Kinsler can play better through the next couple of months, but in the end, he’s arguably the third best second baseman in the AL.
The one thing that’s going to hold Pedroia back has been his lack of power this year. Through 25 games, he’s yet to drive a ball out of the park, whereas Cano has hit seven home runs over the same number of games.
But home-run hitting has never really been a big part of Pedroia’s game. Sure, he consistently hits around 15 balls over the fence each season, but he’s more of a doubles hitter. He led the league in doubles back in 2008 and finished in the top 10 in 2009 and 2012.
This year, Pedroia is leading the Red Sox in a wide variety of offensive categories and has stepped up in a big way when Ortiz was sidelined. He has earned the opportunity to start in the All-Star Game for the second time in his career.
David Ortiz, Designated Hitter
David Ortiz has been one of the best designated hitters in baseball for quite some time now. He’s been to eight All-Star Games and has started in five of them, three times as the AL’s DH. This year should be the fourth time for sure.
Ortiz missed most of last season with an Achilles injury and was sidelined to start the beginning of this season. But since he’s returned from the disabled list, Ortiz has been nearly unstoppable.
Through nine games this year, Ortiz is hitting .500/.513/.917 with three home runs, 15 RBI and eight runs. He currently has the third highest WAR among position players on the Red Sox, behind Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury, according to FanGraphs.
Oh, and he’s currently riding a 21-game hit streak that dates back to last season. That’s not too shabby, is it?
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David Ortiz: 21-game hit streak going back to last season, longest current hitting streak in MLB2013-5-1 15:30:55
Ortiz currently sits in a tie for second place among AL designated hitters, behind Mark Reynolds (Cleveland Indians) and matching Travis Hafner (New York Yankees) and Mark Trumbo (Los Angeles Angels), according to FanGraphs.
The Red Sox were fine without Ortiz in the lineup, but he definitely brings another dynamic to the offense. Boston doesn’t really have much of a consistent power hitter in the daily lineup without him, unless you consider Mike Napoli to have that quality.
Although Reynolds has the highest WAR, it’s unlikely that he’ll be able to earn the starting gig. He’ll have to have all of Ohio and then some in order to beat out Ortiz, Trumbo or Hafner. But I don’t see Hafner getting many votes either despite him getting off to a very hot start to the season.
So, in my opinion, it will come down to Trumbo and Ortiz. If Ortiz keeps hitting like he has over the last week or so, there’s no doubt that he’ll be in the lineup against the NL.
Jacoby Ellsbury, Outfielder
If I told you that Jacoby Ellsbury was among the top three outfielders in the AL in terms of WAR through April you probably wouldn’t be very surprised. You’d absolutely be surprised that Coco Crisp (Oakland Athletics) and Vernon Wells (New York Yankees) were the pair of outfielders ahead of him, according to FanGraphs.
Ellsbury has been to the All-Star Game just once in his career, back in 2011 when he ended up finishing second the MVP voting. The reason he hasn’t been to more is because he usually can’t stay healthy—albeit it’s not always his fault.
Ellsbury has played very well to start the season and I still get the feeling that there’s much more to come. Through 26 games, Ellsbury is hitting .283/.336/.416 with one home run, 11 RBI, 19 runs and 11 stolen bases. He’s also played great defensively out in center field.
The problem for Ellsbury is that although those ahead of him in WAR have played well, there’s a good chance that players who haven’t played well to start the season will get the votes that he deserves.
For example, it wouldn’t be crazy to assume that although Josh Hamilton (Los Angeles Angels) has been horrible, that he could end up starting. Fans sometimes tend to pick their favorite players instead of the ones who have earned it. But even if that is the case, Ellsbury still has a ton of fans in New England.
If Ellsbury can continue to play well and potentially even better than he has been playing, then Boston should be in good shape as the first half winds down. And if that holds true, there’s a good chance you’ll see Ellsbury roaming center field at Citi Field.
Write-In Candidate: Daniel Nava, Outfielder
Unfortunately for Daniel Nava, the Red Sox had to select just three outfielders to put on the ballot. Boston decided to go with Gomes, Ellsbury and Victorino as their three, taking into consideration that they were the intended to be the starting outfield to begin the regular season.
But Nava has played his heart out and definitely deserves to get some recognition for it. Through 21 games, he’s hitting .310/.407/.535 with four home runs, 16 RBIs and 15 runs. He’s also walked 11.6 percent of the time while striking out just 18.6 percent.
While Nava has been more of a role, bench player over the last two years, he’s cemented himself in the starting lineup for the near future. How could manager John Farrell not play someone that gets on base 40.1 percent of the time on a regular basis?
“He’s done an outstanding job defensively,” Farrell told Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe. “It speaks a lot about what he’s done personally and the work he’s put in. I don’t even think twice about putting his name in the lineup. He’s a very good player.”
Now, there are plenty of other players that can be written in. But Nava should be the obvious choice for those that have followed his career and watched him play this season.
Nava looks like a completely different player this year and that may be due to an increase in confidence. He’s playing much more often that never before and has certainly succeeded. He deserves to represent the American League in New York this summer.
Voting for the 2013 All-Star Game is now open, and will stay open until Thursday, July 4 at 11:59 p.m. ET. You can choose who you think deserves to play in the Mid-Summer Classic at MLB.com.