Boston Red Sox: Top 10 All-Star Candidates in 2014
The Boston Red Sox won the World Series in 2013 despite sending just three players to the All-Star Game—Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and Clay Buchholz. Which other Red Sox have the potential to be chosen for this year's midseason classic in Minneapolis? Here are the team's top 10 candidates and their chances of being selected, as well as a few honorable mentions.
Xander Bogaerts: He's got no serious competition for the starting shortstop job, and the sky is the limit as far as his potential goes. While a Rookie of the Year Award is a very legitimate possibility, an All-Star selection for the 21-year-old Bogaerts is a long shot at best.
All-Star chances: 5 percent.
Felix Doubront: ESPN's Gordon Edes recently wrote the following about Doubront's second outing of the spring:
Felix Doubront appears intent on succeeding John Lackey as winner of the Better Body/Better Pitcher award... He threw 48 pitches, 29 for strikes, and, while it’s still early, has catcher David Ross talking like Doubront’s a new man. "Night and day from last year," Ross said. "Repeating pitches, repeating location. Fastball location, he’s doing a better job for me, knowing how to move the ball around in the zone."
A slimmed-down Doubront with better control could easily improve on his back-to-back 11-win seasons in 2012 and 2013.
All-Star chances: 10 percent.
A.J. Pierzynski: He's got the advantage of being a relatively decent hitter at a position where quality bats are extremely rare. If Boston's starting catcher can replicate his .272 average and 17-home run, 70-RBI pace from a year ago, he may find his way to Minneapolis.
All-Star chances: 13 percent.
No. 10: Mike Napoli
Mike Napoli's 2013 stats look very worthy of All-Star consideration. The Red Sox first baseman hit 23 home runs, notched 92 RBI and walked 73 times on his way to posting a .360 on-base percentage.
Unfortunately for Napoli, the American League is loaded with tough competition at his position. Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols, Chris Davis and Edwin Encarnacion all likely stand in his way.
All-Star chances: 15 percent.
No. 9: Jake Peavy
Red Sox fans may remember Jake Peavy's unspectacular playoff performances last year, but he did post a 12-5 record with a 4.17 ERA and 1.15 WHIP during the regular season. The former 2007 National League Cy Young Award winner was also an All-Star for the Chicago White Sox as recently as 2012. If the 32-year-old is able to stay healthy, there's no reason to think he can't be a contender for a spot on this year's AL squad.
All-Star chances: 18 percent.
No. 8: Daniel Nava
Daniel Nava's biggest obstacle along the way to becoming an All-Star in 2014 might be cracking his own club's lineup. Last year, Nava recorded just 458 at-bats in 134 games, often platooning in left field with Jonny Gomes. However, his .303 batting average was good for eighth in the American League, while his .385 OBP ranked fifth. If Nava can hit like he did a season ago and earn a full-time spot in the Red Sox outfield, he'll have a decent shot at getting to Minneapolis.
All-Star chances: 20 percent.
No. 7: John Lackey
John Lackey's 10-13 record last season was primarily due to his lack of run support, not the way he pitched. Statistically, he put together his best year since finishing third in the AL Cy Young voting in 2007—a 3.52 ERA and 1.16 WHIP along with 161 strikeouts. A repeat performance may be a lot to expect from the 35-year-old veteran who missed all of 2012 due to Tommy John surgery, but it's certainly possible.
All-Star chances: 22 percent.
No. 6: Shane Victorino
The good news for Shane Victorino is that he's the only Boston outfielder who is guaranteed a full-time job. With Jacoby Ellsbury gone, Victorino may be counted on as the primary table-setter at the top of the Red Sox batting order.
The two-time All-Star hit a career best .294 in 2013 with 15 home runs, 82 runs scored and 21 steals. He'll likely need to bat .300 and be on pace to score 100 runs and steal 30 bases in order to wind up on the AL roster.
All-Star chances: 25 percent.
No. 5: Clay Buchholz
Clay Buchholz had a spectacular beginning to last year, jumping out of the gate with a 9-0 record and 1.71 ERA through June 8. Unfortunately, arm troubles then kept him out of action until September. In six full seasons in the majors, Buchholz has made more than 16 starts just twice. From The Boston Herald's Scott Lauber, here's what Buchholz had to say this spring about his ability to remain healthy:
As far as I’m concerned, I’m in better shape than anybody in this camp. I run every day. I work out. I promise you if I understood what it was, I would fix it. There’s nothing more demoralizing than not being able to go out and pitch, especially when everything is rolling and you feel good. That’s why, if I can do this or that just a little bit better, I’m going to put myself in the best position to succeed.
The talent is clearly there. For Buchholz, it's just a matter of staying on the field.
All-Star chances: 35 percent.
No. 4: Koji Uehara
Koji Uehara's performance after taking over as the Red Sox closer last season was nothing short of spectacular. He finished with 21 saves, a 1.09 ERA, a 0.57 WHIP and 101 strikeouts in 74.1 innings pitched.
Uehara will turn 39 in April, and it's not uncommon for relief pitchers to excel in the closer role one year and then stumble the next. If he comes anywhere close to repeating his 2013 success, he'll be worthy of All-Star consideration.
All-Star chances: 40 percent.
No. 3: Jon Lester
After back-to-back All-Star appearances in 2010 and 2011, Jon Lester showed in 2013 that his subpar 2012 season was the anomaly. Lester went 15-8 last year with a 3.75 ERA and 177 strikeouts in 213.1 innings.
Excluding 2012, he's won 15 or more games and thrown at least 200 innings in every season since 2008, his first as a regular in Boston's rotation. Lester has also started more than 30 games in each of the last six years. That impressive level of consistency makes his third All-Star appearance all the more likely.
All-Star chances: 45 percent.
No. 2: Dustin Pedroia
Dustin Pedroia has the added benefit of being an All-Star regular who may very well be voted in by the fans based on his reputation. It's also a pretty good bet he'll make it on merit—the .302 career hitter has a Rookie of the Year, an MVP and 4 All-Star appearances on his resume over a seven-year career.
One potential roadblock for Pedroia is the level of talent at second base in the American League. Robinson Cano, Ian Kinsler, Ben Zobrist and Jason Kipnis are all quality candidates as well.
All-Star Chances: 60 percent.
No. 1: David Ortiz
David Ortiz is coming off one of the best World Series performances of all time, in which he batted .688 with a .760 OBP and a 1.188 slugging percentage. Ortiz was no slouch in the 2013 regular season either, hitting .309 with 30 home runs and 103 RBI. He's been selected for the All-Star game nine of the last 10 years, not even including his first season with Boston in 2003 when he finished fifth in the MVP race.
When it's all said and done, Ortiz will be considered the greatest DH to ever play the game. Expect him to be voted into the 2014 All-Star Game regardless of how he performs this year.
All-Star chances: 85 percent.