Red Sox infielders Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers can still be All-Stars

BOSTON, MA - JUNE 13: Rafael Devers #11 high fives Xander Bogaerts #2 of the Boston Red Sox after hitting a solo home run in the fifth inning of a game against the Texas Rangers at Fenway Park on June 13, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - JUNE 13: Rafael Devers #11 high fives Xander Bogaerts #2 of the Boston Red Sox after hitting a solo home run in the fifth inning of a game against the Texas Rangers at Fenway Park on June 13, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /

Red Sox infielders Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers were unfairly left out of the final round of All-Star fan voting but they haven’t been robbed yet.

Major League Baseball has revealed the fan ballot results that determine which position players move on to the final round for consideration to start in the 2019 All-Star Game and it’s a mixed bag for the Boston Red Sox.

J.D. Martinez is among the three finalists for designated hitter and should be considered a heavy favorite to be named the starter. Mookie Betts is one of nine American League outfielders to advance to the Election round. While he wasn’t one of the top-three on the fan ballot during the Primary round, you have to like the reigning MVP’s chances of being an All-Star now that the field has been whittled down.

The outcome was less fortune for a pair of Red Sox infielders. Despite breaking out for career years that rank them near the top of the league at their positions statistically, Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers fell short of qualifying for the Election round. They will not be considered for a starting spot in the All-Star Game.

The news sent shock waves throughout Red Sox Nation as a baffled fan base stormed social media to vent their frustrations.

Bogaerts leads the entire league with 25 doubles while sitting at the top of his position with a .392 OBP, 46 walks, 50 RBI, and 3.5 fWAR. He’s been the most important cog in the Red Sox lineup this season so for him to finish sixth on the ballot at his position is a travesty.

As for Devers, his .310 batting average is fifth in the AL and leads his position by a comfortable margin. He’s also second among AL third baseman with 18 doubles and 48 RBI while ranking third with a .362 OBP and 2.4 fWAR. Yet he doesn’t make the top three to advance to the next round of fan voting.

Red Sox fans are outraged by the lack of respect shown to two of the league’s brightest young stars. It’s understandable why we resent a process that so poorly captures the most deserving candidates but let’s pump the breaks on complaining about how Bogaerts and Devers were robbed. We’re a long way from finding out what the final All-Star rosters will look like.

The fan ballot process is flawed – always has been. Remember a few years ago when Kansas City Royals fans flooded the ballot and nearly sent all their position players to the All-Star Game? The last wave of votes rectified the most egregious of the misguided rankings but we were dangerously close to having replacement level players starting an All-Star game.

No matter how many times MLB tweaks the process, fan voting remains a popularity contest. Fans will vote for their favorite players or those who play for their favorite team, not the most deserving candidates. If MLB cared about sending the best players based on talent and production, they’d take the vote out of our hands because, quite frankly, most of us can’t be trusted to make an unbiased judgement.

This doesn’t necessarily mean worthy options such as the dynamic Red Sox infield duo will be left out. Fans only get a say in who starts the game. The players determine the All-Star reserves and they tend to have a far better understanding of who should make the team.

Bogaerts is having an outstanding season but he has the misfortune of competing with a deep pool of shortstops. You can certainly make a case for him starting but Jorge Polanco is right up there with him in most offensive categories. Francisco Lindor was slowed by a hamstring injury to start the season but I certainly won’t argue if you want to call him the best shortstop in the league, particularly when you factor in defense.

Bogaerts wasn’t a lock to start the game even if fans were eliminated from the equation. The AL should find room for him on the roster as a reserve and his fellow players should see that, even if it means carrying three shortstops.

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Devers is having an All-Star caliber season but if we’re being honest, Alex Bregman is the league’s best third baseman and deserves to start. Matt Chapman warrants consideration for being perhaps the best defensive player in the game at any position, although a player’s glove work rarely carries them to a spot on the All-Star team.

Devers should have a strong shot at making the team as a reserve, which is exactly how it should shake out at the hot corner.

Each league only has 20 position players selected as All-Stars. Fans voting in the wrong players to start, along with MLB’s archaic rule about each franchise being represented, inevitably means some deserving players will get squeezed. It’s possible that Bogaerts or Devers could be snubbed, perhaps even both. That hasn’t happened yet though.

So relax, Red Sox Nation. Betts and Martinez are virtual locks to make the team. Chris Sale and David Price could be selected to the pitching staff. Boston will be well represented in the All-Star Game.

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The chances of Bogaerts and Devers making the team took a hit by excluding them from the ballot for a starting spot but their fellow players aren’t limited to the same list of finalists when they pick the reserves. Considering that neither was an obvious choice to start the game, the fan vote may not ultimately matter.