Red Sox: Mookie Betts continues AL All-Star voting slide
After the third issue of fan voting results, the Boston Red Sox remain without a starting player.
Major League Baseball has released the third batch of voting results for the 2017 All-Star Game in Miami and the numbers aren’t good for the Red Sox.
In the last edition, Mookie Betts fell out of a starting spot and was overtaken by Indians’ outfielder Michael Brantley. His slide down the list has continued, going from fourth to fifth after the most recent round of voting.
Betts still stands behind Brantley, but the two have been overtaken by Astros slugger George Springer who amassed nearly 400,000 votes over the last week. He now stands in third place among AL outfielders, trailing Mike Trout (who will miss the All-Star game with a thumb injury) and Aaron Judge.
Another notable change in voting came at first base as Yonder Alonso of the Oakland Athletics overcame a 40,000 vote difference to usurp Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera. There are more updates to come, and the tight race at first base will be worth watching.
As far as Red Sox players go, Betts still has the best chance at earning a starting spot. With 16 days left until voting ends on June 29, he’ll have to make up roughly 60,000 votes on Brantley.
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Despite the expected support the Cleveland fan favorite has received, his numbers aren’t any better than Mookie’s. He leads Brantley in hits (67 to 58), runs (38 to 23), home runs (9 to 5), RBI (34 to 25), steals (11 to 7), on-base percentage (.360 to .350), and OPS (.837 to .768). Brantley does have an advantage in average, but Betts’ rate has been suppressed by an uncharacteristically low .276 batting average on balls in play.
More so, Mookie continues to be one of the game’s elite defensive outfielders, following up last season’s Gold Glove campaign with 12 defensive runs saved and an ultimate zone rating per 150 of 26.4. By comparison, Brantley, who has never been an exceptional outfielder, has been merely league average by his defensive metrics this season.
Defense metrics probably don’t factor into many fans’ voting considerations, though it is an important part of determining which player has been the best this season. Unfortunately, the fan vote is more about stacking the ballot in favor of one team than selecting the league’s best players.
As long as Betts’ performance remains constant, he’ll safely find himself on the All-Star team. It may not be as a starter, but he is in line to capture one of the top-four outfield spots since Trout won’t be making the trip to Miami.
The other Red Sox players that find themselves on the ballot are Xander Bogaerts, Andrew Benintendi, and Dustin Pedroia. Bogaerts and Pedroia remain locked at fourth and fifth in their respective positions, with little hope of overtaking starting positions. Francisco Lindor and Jose Altuve hold comfortable leads at short and second. When you consider their play and fan appeal, both are virtual locks to earn the starting selection.
As for Benintendi, his prolonged slump has knocked him from sixth to ninth among outfielders. He’s still got a shot to move into one of the four reserve spots but will need to regain his April form to do so. If Monday night’s 3-for-5 performance is any indication, he may be on track.
The Red Sox are likely to repeat their six-player representation from a year ago, but that doesn’t mean they won’t have their fair share of players at the mid-summer classic. Betts will be there, Bogaerts could, and then there are still the pitchers. Since the fan vote only applies to position players, expert opinion will surely put Chris Sale and Craig Kimbrel in the game.
Next: Evaluating the defense of Xander Bogaerts
Red Sox fans! There’s still time to push Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaert up the balloting list. Don’t forget that voting ends June 29 and if you want to see your favorite players representing the American League at the All-Star Game, vote now!