By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Here in Boston, we’ve got quite a lot going on in the sports world. Between failed runs at the Stanley Cup, absolute madness surrounding the Celtics roster and future, random spats among former chaplains in Foxboro, and the attempts for the defending-champion Red Sox to shake off their slow start to the season, we’re not short on sports topics to channel all of our energy.
Largely because of that, a minor yet somewhat important storyline may have slipped through the cracks, and it likely deserves some more attention: Xander Bogaerts belongs on the American League All-Star team.
Again, in the larger picture of Boston sports, this matter amounts to nothing more than small potatoes. But, after Bogaerts reached base three times and delivered a key RBI double to help the Red Sox cap off a series win over the AL-leading Twins, the Red Sox’ 26-year-old shortstop is now batting .300 and slugging .536, with a .928 OPS.
Among AL shortstops, Bogaerts ranks at or near the top of every category.
BOGAERTS’ RANK AMONG AL SHORTSTOPS
Defensively, Bogaerts has been steady, too, with just six errors on 261 total chances in the field. He’s started 73 games, second-most among AL shortstops.
Despite that success, Bogaerts’ name showed up sixth on the list of the most recent All-Star voting totals. He’s behind Jorge Polanco, Carlos Correa, Gleyber Torres, Tim Anderson, and Francisco Lindor. Bogaerts isn’t even close to moving up, either; he’s 50,000 votes behind Lindor for fifth, 100,000 votes behind Anderson for fourth, almost 250,000 votes behind Correa for second, and more than 400,000 votes shy of Polanco, in the top spot.
Polanco — with his .326 average, .930 OPS, 21 doubles, five triples and 10 homers — likely deserves that standing. But Bogaerts undoubtedly deserves to be standing neck-and-neck with his counterpart from Minnesota.
Bogaerts’ position in the voting is a bit of a head scratcher — both for fans and Bogaerts himself.
“It’s just so weird,” Bogaerts told WEEI’s Rob Bradford, who really shined a light on this matter this week. “I just feel like it’s a routine, every year the same thing. It’s kind of getting annoying. But I don’t know what to do.”
Manager Alex Cora, who will be managing the AL All-Star team this year, expressed his own befuddlement with the voting results this week.
“I can’t get involved in the voting, whatever, but when I saw it yesterday, I was a little bit disappointed,” Cora said on MLB Network Radio. “Because this kid is one of the best shortstops in the league, and if you look at his numbers, what he’s doing, it’s amazing. As you guys know, he can hit .330 if he wants, hitting singles the other way. But he bought into the concept last year that he was going to drive the ball, and so far, so good. And now he’s driving the ball and he’s hitting for average.”
“He’s been a force, he’s been great, and I’m proud of him,” Cora added. “I’m happy that he’s my shortstop.”
Bogaerts is Cora’s shortstop for now and for the long term, but the way voting is going, it does not appear as though Bogaerts will be Cora’s shortstop on July 9 in Cleveland.
Representing the American League at shortstop is a career dream for most young baseball players. It’s difficult to imagine what Bogaerts could have done or could be doing to warrant more consideration for that honor.