Will Boston Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley be an All-Star?

Apr 13, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. (25) hits a triple during the fourth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 13, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. (25) hits a triple during the fourth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports /

The latest balloting updates revealed by MLB for the 2016 All-Star fan voting are looking quite promising for Boston Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr.

Heading into this season we had a strong inclination that a member of the Boston Red Sox outfield would be partaking in this year’s All-Star Game. We just weren’t thinking of the right one.

Sure, Mookie Betts remains a strong candidate to make the American League team, but he’s not the one currently in the mix for a starting spot. According to the latest balloting updates, that would be Jackie Bradley, who has received the third most votes among AL outfielders with 937,571.

Bradley joins a trio of potential starters that currently includes Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels (1,344,578) and Lorenzo Cain of the Kansas City Royals (944,362). Trout, a former MVP, has the third most votes among all AL position players. Cain has fallen short of the numbers he produced in last year’s breakout season, but has the support of the Royals fan base.

You may recall that last year the Kansas City fans hijacked the voting process by flooding the ballots, generating panic that the AL starting lineup would be filled with Royals players – including several that were far from deserving. The same appears to be happening again, but to a lesser extent. There are still several Royals that rate far too high on the ballots (looking at you, Omar Infante), but only first baseman Eric Hosmer and catcher Salvador Perez lead at their respective positions. Both are having great seasons and a fair argument can be made that they should make the team, so there should be far less of an outcry if these results hold.

Despite not having the track record of the other outfielders in the mix, Bradley is a deserving option based on what he has produced this season. He enters the day 6th in the league with a .323 average, 2nd with a .982 OPS and 11th with a 2.6 WAR. Bradley also garnered plenty of attention during his recent 29-game hit streak, which stands as the longest in the majors this season and tied for 4th in Red Sox history.

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If Bradley doesn’t get voted in as a starter then he has a strong case to make the team as a reserve, unless it’s held against him that he hasn’t performed at this level for long enough. There is something to be said about not rewarding a player for having six great weeks that inflate their season numbers in a small sample size, but Bradley has looked like a completely different hitter since his offensive outburst last August. Plus, his outstanding defense alone should at least put in him the conversation.

We won’t need to worry about that if Bradley gets voted in by the fans, which seems likely at this point. He has a comfortable lead over AL home run leader Mark Trumbo (816,276) and bat flip extraordinaire Jose Bautista (734,161).

Next on the list is Betts, who Red Sox fans hope can join Bradley as a starter. He is certainly more deserving than Cain, Trumbo or Bautista. If we were going based on the merits of this season alone, Betts would be much closer to the top.

Then again, it would be difficult to overlook George Springer of the Houston Astros, who didn’t even make the list despite having 13 home runs and an .864 OPS. Those numbers are comparable to Betts, while Springer also leads AL outfielders with a 3.2 WAR. If we’re being objective (hey, we try!), Springer has to be considered, which makes it hard to fit both Betts and Bradley into the starting lineup. Regardless, all three of them deserve to be on the team, along with the obvious choice of Trout.

As for other Red Sox players in consideration, David Ortiz is second in the AL with 1,460,339 votes and will win the starting DH role by a landslide. Xander Bogaerts is the current leader at shortstop with 1,040,465 votes. Both are near locks to make the team and are deserving starters.

Dustin Pedroia, Hanley Ramirez, Travis Shaw and former catcher Blake Swihart all rank in the top-5 at their respective positions, but are highly unlikely to make up enough ground to be voted in as starters. With the exception of perhaps Pedroia, each of them is a long shot to become an All-Star this season.

Next: Red Sox battle in the Bay

There is still time to vote, so get out there and help these deserving Red Sox players earn a trip to the 2016 All-Star game!