Sports

Picking a Red Sox All-Star is a guessing game

BOSTON – Have the Red Sox become the Kansas City Royals and the Houston Astros? No, not this year’s versions of those teams. That would be a good thing. I mean the Royals and Astros of yore. The ones who could only get one player onto the All-Star team because it was mandatory that each team get a token representative.
Last year, the Red Sox sent two players to the All-Star Game, pitchers Jon Lester and Koji Uehara. Who should go this year?
And, yes, there’s a lot of time between now and the Summer Classic on July 14 in Cincinnati. Plenty of time for someone ? anyone ? to step up and prove he deserves to be the Red Sox representative. Heck, maybe even more than one player will do that.
The last time the Red Sox sent just one player was in 2012, when David Ortiz was the American League?s starting designated hitter. The 2012 Red Sox entered Memorial Day weekend with a record of 22-22, in last place in the AL East, 5 ? games behind the first-place Orioles. This year?s team entered Memorial Day weekend 19-22, in fourth place in the division, 3 ? games behind the first-place Rays.
For now, though, who should be the Sox All-Star? Here are five possibilities.
5. Dustin Pedroia? The second baseman is a four-time All-Star, most recently in 2013. He hit .301 with a .372 on-base percentage and .415 slugging percentage that season. This season those numbers are .280/.353/.415.
Always a fan favorite, Pedroia is likely to garner a good deal of votes. Last year he finished third in voting among AL second baseman, behind Robinson Cano and Ian Kinsler and just ahead of Jose Altuve, who finished the season as the major league leader in hits (225) and average (.341).
4. David Ortiz? Another fan favorite, Ortiz has been a near-perennial All-Star with trips to the Classic ever year from 2004 to 2013, except for 2009, when he hit just .238. He finished in second place last year, nearly a million votes behind Nelson Cruz.
Although he is having a very un-Ortiz-like season ? his .239 average is his lowest since 2009 ? he is still likely to get his share of votes.
3. Koji Uehara ?How many All-Star Games does the 40-year-old closer have left in him? How many saves does he have left in him? Uehara has been an All-Star just once in his seven-season MLB career ? last year as a follow-up to his lights-out 2013 campaign.
After starting the season on the disabled list, Uehara recorded a save in his first outing, April 14 against the Nationals. But, by April 25 he had given the Red Sox some degree of concern. He blew a save that day, giving up a triple and a home run in the 10th inning in Baltimore as the velocity on his fastball and splitter decreased. While his velocity remains down, he has rebounded since then, giving up just one run in his last nine appearances, spanning 8 2/3 innings, recording a win and seven saves.
2. Rick Porcello ?Before Friday?s game against the Angels at Fenway Park, Porcello would have been my pick. But after his latest outing ? a certifiable stinker, 4 1/3 innings, seven hits, seven runs, six earned, three walks, four strikeouts, one home run, one hit batter ? he forced his way down the list. Despite that, he remains the only Sox starting pitcher with a winning record at 4-3, while his ERA climbed from 4.26 to 5.07.
Before the game, the Sox had won his five previous starts, tying him with Detroit?s David Price for the longest active win streak in the AL. In his previous four starts since April 29, he was 3-0 with a 2.10 ERA, the sixth-best mark in the AL in that stretch. He was the only AL starter with three wins and an ERA that low in that time. (Plus his warm-up music is Bruce Springsteen?s “Badlands.” For that reason alone he would get my vote.)
1. Junichi Tazawa? It?s tough for middle relievers and set-up guys to get much ? if any ? recognition. But Tazawa has been the Sox? most consistent performer this season. He entered Friday?s game tied for the AL lead in appearances with 21, and leads Red Sox reli

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