Boston Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts has been named as an injury replacement to the American League team for the MLB All-Star Game.
Justice has been served for Xander Bogaerts. While he was initially one of the most head-scratching snubs when the MLB All-Star rosters were announced last weekend, the shortstop for the Boston Red Sox will be going to Cleveland for the Midsummer Classic after all.
Hunter Pence was expected to return from a groin injury this week until he suffered a setback during his rehab assignment that will extend his absence until after the break. J.D. Martinez will slide into the designated hitter spot in Pence’s place so it turns out the Red Sox will have a starter in the All-Star Game.
MLB often selects a player who can cover the same position as the injured All-Star when deciding on replacements, as was the case with Brandon Lowe filling in for Tommy La Stella and Jose Berrios taking the place of Jake Odorizzi. There’s no need for that when replacing a DH and the added flexibility helped Bogaerts get selected.
Bogaerts was also the right choice as arguably the biggest position player snub in the AL. He leads the league with 28 doubles and leads his position with 58 RBI, a .388 OBP, .533 SLG, .922 OPS, .384 wOBA, 138 wRC+, and 3.7 fWAR. How would that guy not be considered an All-Star?
The All-Star starters are voted in by the fans, a process Bogaerts previously expressed frustration with when he wasn’t even among the finalists at his position.
Jorge Polanco was voted in as the starting shortstop for the AL. He’s having an All-Star caliber season but his numbers don’t top Bogaerts. Polanco has an edge in hits and batting average, common stats that casual fans who stuff the online ballots can comprehend. Bogaerts has him beat in virtually every other offensive category.
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The only other shortstop initially selected to the AL squad was Francisco Lindor. His season started out slowly while he recovered from an ankle injury but he’s come on strong lately. Lindor hasn’t been as great as Bogaerts this season but he has a better track record and is arguably the best shortstop in baseball when you factor in defense. Plus, the game is in Cleveland so the Indians’ best player should be there.
That left Bogaerts on the outside looking in – until now. Pence deserves to play in the All-Star Game and it’s unfortunate that his injury will prevent him from taking the field. The sliver lining is that it opened a door for MLB to rectify the mistake of excluding Bogaerts.
Obviously, we would never wish injury on anyone else. But if one of the AL third basemen decides they have better things to do and would rather skip the All-Star Game, maybe it’s not too late to get Rafael Devers to Cleveland. Wishful thinking, I know. We can’t correct all of MLB’s mistakes.
Years from now, we won’t remember that Bogaerts was able to sneak on the roster as an injury replacement. We’ll only remember that he was there and that his resume will now say that he’s a two-time All-Star.