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The announcement of the rosters for the 2014 All-Star Game included just one member of the Red Sox–pitcher Jon Lester. In recent years, usually a group of Boston players would make the trip, including regulars like David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia. Yet after fans and players gave their opinions on who will get to make the trip to Minnesota next week, Ortiz along with other Sox candidates such as Koji Uehara and Brock Holt were nowhere to be found.
After finally getting the Red Sox to bite on a two-year contract, Ortiz has put up his worst numbers at the plate since 2009 when it seemed like his career was over. While there’s no doubt he remains the most dangerous hitter in the Sox lineup with an impressive 19 home runs before the break, Big Papi has been hitting closer to .250 than .300 for the majority of the year.
Additionally, the competition in the American League at the designated hitter position actually exists this season. Nelson Cruz has played DH in about half of his games this year for Baltimore and made the roster as a starter and earned his position on the team from the fan vote, even after recently dealing with his PED suspension.
The American League has four potential backup first basemen; Jose Abreu, Edwin Encarnacion, Victor Martinez, and Brandon Moss. Of the bunch, Moss’s numbers are most comparable with Ortiz, but at the end of the day the 2014 season has belonged to Oakland, and they will be well-represented at the game with six All-Stars. Ortiz would be the first to admit that he doesn’t belong in this mix of players, and will probably benefit from a few days off for a change.
Closer Koji Uehara seemed like a serious candidate for the All-Star Game, and he is the first option to replace a pitcher who is injured or ineligible to pitch, so he’s certain to end up joining the roster eventually. The 39-year old has been close to flawless in 41.2 innings this season, striking out 52 batters while walking just six and maintaining a 1.30 ERA.
When comparing Uehara to the other right-handed relievers elected, it does seem like he should have been initially chosen. Kansas City Royals reliever Greg Holland has been terrific but less effective than the automatic Uehara, who deserved his spot on the roster, especially since the Royals are already represented with both Salvador Perez and Alex Gordon attending.
As for Brock Holt, the super utility rookie extraordinaire has played unbelievable on both sides of the ball this season, by making the loss of Jacoby Ellsbury at the top of the batting order relatively painless and by playing nearly every position in the field. While his numbers are crawling back down to Earth, only playing in 55 games to this point in the season prevents Holt from being realistically considered, especially given how little his great play has impacted the success of the Red Sox.
Ultimately, the Red Sox are going nowhere in 2014. The bridge is in full effect as the team and the media focuses more on the upcoming Jon Lester free agency than the actual standings. It is unusual for the Red Sox to be out of a playoff race before the All-Star Break, especially for the defending World Series champions, but the future remains bright and it’s fair to expect multiple All-Stars from this promising franchise in the years to come.