The Red Sox earned six all-stars, with a few surprises.
Going into this season, Red Sox fans were well aware of the team’s star-studded line-up, comprised of both established veterans and exciting up and comers. With that being said, had you told sox fans going into the season that the team would send six all-stars to San Diego, it wouldn’t have come as much of a surprise.
Four of the six Red Sox all-stars would have been comfortable bets going into the season. In his final season, David Ortiz earned his tenth career all-star bid. However, this selection was not an honorary body of work choice, he earned it. He currently is fourth in all of baseball in batting average (.332), tied for ninth in home runs (22) second in RBI’s (72) and first in doubles (34). Big Papi was a no brainer for the DH spot in the American League.
It was only a matter of time before Xander Bogaerts became an all-star. After being unfairly snubbed last season, the Sox shortstop solidified his spot this season, posting a .329 average at the break and is tied for second in all of baseball in hits with 117. It’s the 23 year old’s first all-star selection, and most certainly will not be his last.
Who is Bogaerts tied for second in hits with? His fellow 23 year old teammate, Mookie Betts. Since his coronation into the big leagues, Betts showed immediate glimpses of all-star caliber play. While mid-summer classics were undoubtedly in his future, not many expected them to come this early. The Sox leadoff man has become one of the best table-setters in the majors. He leads the league in at-bats (385), is second in runs scored (75) and ninth in stolen bases (15). An despite a relatively small stature at only 5’8” Betts has blasted an impressive 18 long balls. Much like Bogaerts, expect many more all-star game selections in his future.
One of the more pressing needs in the offseason was bolstering the bullpen, and the Sox certainly did that by acquiring the flame-throwing closer Craig Kimbrel. Despite a lackluster season to date in Kimbrel’s standards, his mid-season resume was enough to earn him a trip to San Diego. He’s converted 17 of 19 save opportunities and hitters are only hitting a mere .178 off of the right-hander. However, Kimbrel won’t make an appearance in the game, as he is sidelined with a knee injury that will sideline him for three to six weeks.
While those four Red Sox all-stars could have been easily predicted by Red Sox fans, the other two were certainly surprises. One of which was the sure-handed outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. While his flawless center field play has never been questioned, his hitting was often suspect in his coming up in the majors. Bradley has silenced those doubters this season, posting a respectable .296 average and is third in all of baseball with six triples. Bradley has also posted the longest hitting streak so far this season at 29 games. Once a player who could’ve been traded for a bucket of baseballs, Bradley has turned the corner in a big way, demonstrating his five-tool quality play on a nightly basis.
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If you were told at the beginning of the season that a Red Sox starting pitcher would earn an all-star bid, your first guess would definitely have been David Price. The 31 million dollar per year ace has been selected to the all-star game five times, but not this year. Maybe Rick Porcello? Nope. It’s the 31 year-old knuckle baller Steven Wright. Wright was thrown into the rotation as the fifth starter in the rotation with little expectations. He’s taken the baseball world by storm this season earning 10 wins and knuckling his way to a remarkable 2.68 ERA. Once an afterthought, Wright has become one of the more sure-handed starting pitchers this season.
Sending an American League best six all-stars to San Diego isn’t just a testament to Boston’s loyal fan base, but also the immense talent on this ball club. Just one game out of first place in the East at the break, let’s hope this teams first half success is duplicated or even improved going into the latter portion of the season.
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