The Boston Red Sox were completely left off of the starting lineup for the 2015 American League All-Stars roster. People questioned whether Boston’s shortstop Xander Bogaerts would have made a better choice than Alcides Escobar of the Kansas City Royals, but life moved on. Then on Monday night the reserves and pitchers were announced; once again, Bogaerts did not make list. Even ESPN baseball analyst Curt Schilling looked surprised that Bogaerts had not made the cut, but life moved on, again.
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From that point until this Friday at 4 P.M. ET, Major League Baseball is having “a four-day blitz in which unique campaign alliances will form, digital balloting records will probably fall and fans will decide the 34th and final roster spots for the 86th Midsummer Classic on July 14 at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.” Xander Bogaerts made that list.
The National League has four pitchers, including the dominant veteran Clayton Kershaw, and one position player in Troy Tulowitzki. Expect the battle to be joined by Cincinnati Reds fans to get Johnny Cueto to play in front of the home crowd.
The American League has five position players: Bogaerts, Detroit Tigers outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, Minnesota Twins second baseman Brian Dozier, New York Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner, and Kansas City Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas.
Now, this ‘media blitz’ is actually a giant cash-cow of manipulation by MLB executives, just like many other television shows that ask viewers to vote for their favorite singer or whatever the case may be. When you go to MLB.com to vote, you complete the ballot and click which is your favorite team and whether you want promotion emails to be sent to you. Once you hit ‘submit vote’ you are given a screen where your vote is not only confirmed, if you fill in the ever-changing code box, you can continue submitting it until the deadline. Considering advertisers on MLB.com have to pay money every time the screen is viewed, changing the screen repeatedly with fans continuously slaving away at voting for their team’s player will greatly increase profits for those execs.
With all of this money in play, is it possible that some bigger names or bigger teams’ players were left off the rosters to create bigger business? Possibly. The final vote consists of Red Sox, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Cardinals, Tigers, and Royals players, some of the biggest MLB fanbases who would spend countless hours voting and making even more advertising profits. It’s also possible that these players were not quite good enough to make the list at first, compared to the other players. Conspiracy theories are a dime a dozen. The fans and the managers have many different points of view to consider.
Let’s look strictly at the American League Final Vote list.
ESPN‘s own Gordon Edes reports, “Bogaerts ranks third in batting average among major league shortstops, trailing only Jose Iglesias and Troy Tulowitzki. He’s second in hits, third in doubles, fifth in OPS and since June 1 has posted a .336/.360/.458 slash line, which has earned him a promotion to the No. 3 spot in the Red Sox order, which looks like it might become a permanent position. His defense also has made tremendous strides, his confidence and comfort level growing daily.”
Sounds pretty good, don’t you think?
Jun 10, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers left fielder Yoenis Cespedes (52) hits a three run home run at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Apparently, not to Royals and American League manager Ned Yost who picked the reserves. Was it a move to make Escobar, his own shortstop on the Royals, happy and not worried that Bogaerts would steal his thunder? Possibly; however, again, baseball’s players and managers are supposed to be above all of that. Besides, there is no evidence to support that possibility. Life moves on, remember?
ESPN published that “in terms of evaluating the Final Vote choices, Gardner (3.1 WAR) and Dozier (3.0) are virtually even by advanced stats, with Cespedes (2.8) and Moustakas a smidge behind them (2.7). Xander Bogaerts (2.4) is also close … Bogaerts’ best case is his hot streak. He entered Monday hitting .348 with 21 RBIs in his past 33 games. He leads all AL shortstops in WAR, as well.”
It appears that Bogaerts should have been an easy choice for shortstop, whether a starter or a reserve, and yet did not get selected. If he’s going to make the squad, baseball fans around the world are going to have to vote for him based on tangible and intangible qualities against the other four non-shortstop players.
If we remember that the Home Run Derby is held the night before the All-Star Game, with strictly selected All-Stars, then Bogaerts is possibly done already. Cespedes was the retaining champion of the Derby last year, the first to do it since Ken Griffey Jr. (1998-1999), and he even appears on the front of the Derby’s own popular game app. Chicks dig the long ball, or so the men keep saying, which would mean the popular vote should be for Cespedes crushing essentially lobbed pitches into the upper decks of the Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.
If we also remember how the starting lineup went a few days ago, with the fans picking who should begin the game, it’s worth noting that the Royals had four players named starters. Kansas City fans have already proven that they can vote like crazy, if properly motivated. Apparently, they forgot about Moustakas, but now have a chance to rectify their miscalculation.
Jul 3, 2015; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox second baseman Brock Holt (26) fields a ground ball at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Will Red Sox Nation take up the cause for Bogaerts in the same fashion? Well, anything is possible, but put it this way: the Red Sox had only one player chosen to be a reserve for the All-Star Game, and it was Brock Holt the utility player. No Red Sox made the starting roster or the pitching staff. Was there not enough pressure put on Yost to make another selection?
While Dozier is having a good stretch to put him on pace to hit over 40 home runs this season, baseball fans outside of Minnesota might not know him well enough to want to vote him in over some of the other bigger names. If Brett Gardner gets in, a Yankee, expect anger to swell to a boiling point in Massachusetts. However, they would have only themselves to blame for not casting enough votes for Bogaerts.
The biggest blow to Bogaerts’ chances may be from his own teammate Brock Holt. By including a utility player who plays every position like he’s a starter, non-Red Sox fans may feel that Holt could be the third shortstop, to add to Jose Iglesias and Escobar, and Bogaerts’ services would not be required. Interestingly, but of course coincidentally, Iglesias is a Tiger like Cespedes and Escobar is a Royal like Moustakas. Do you think the fans from those teams are going to help vote Bogaerts in, no matter how you spin the statistics?
Never say never. Bogaerts could still get in, if Red Sox Nation around the world supports their player with enough votes. However, if you think it should be an easy victory, I also have a bridge I want to sell you, too.
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