Believe it or not, we’re already almost to the All Star break, as the festivities will be starting a week from today. Those who were chosen will be hopping on planes to Cincinnati following their respective contests on Sunday. Last night, the starters were announced. Although we didn’t get a lineup full of Royals in the American League, the Red Sox didn't have anyone in the starting lineup, to the surprise of no one. Tonight, the league will announce the full rosters, and Boston will have at least one player heading to the game because rules.
There are a few candidates from this Red Sox team, and it’s entirely possible they’ll have more than one representative despite their lackluster play for the majority of this first half. Xander Bogaerts is the odds-on favorite to make it from this team. Mookie Betts, Clay Buchholz and Junichi Tazawa have all had fantastic seasons that deserve some sort of recognition as well. However, if only one Red Sox player is going to represent the American League and it were up to me to decide, Brock Holt would be heading to Cincinnati next week.
I’m not going to sit here and argue that he’s been Boston’s best player this season. Bogaerts is hitting .302/.339/.416 (107 wRC+) with much improved defense at shortstop and the best fWAR among all AL shortstops. Buchholz has been the "ace" the team has been looking for. He’s made all 17 of his starts this year and it posting a 3.57 ERA with a 2.55 FIP that’s tied for fifth best in all of baseball with some decent pitcher named Clayton Kershaw. Junichi Tazawa has helped hold together a subpar bullpen with yet another phenomenal season that deserves recognition despite not coming from the closer role.
So, no, Holt hasn’t been better than those guys. He’s still been damn good, though. In 258 plate appearances, the sensation has hit .295/.383/.424, good for a 126 wRC+. That last mark is good for 28th in the American League among players with at least 200 plate appearances. He’s done so while playing average-to-above-average defense all across the diamond. While that’s not good enough to be the best player on the team in a vacuum, that’s still outstanding baseball.
Of course, this isn’t the first year that Holt has been doing this. In 2014, he was one of the few bright spots when he burst on to the scene in the first half. Even though we all knew he would fall off at some point, it was a blast watching him work his way up the lineup while making Web Gems at just about every position on the field. Well, it’s happening again this year. Although everyone seems to be turning it around now, it wasn’t like that in May and the beginning of June. At that point, it seemed like no one was hitting, except Brock Holt. During the rough stretch in the schedule from May 1st to June 15th, Holt hit a respectable .252/.353/.359 when no one else could swing the bat. At a certain point, that needs to be recognized.
To me, that’s the point of this whole week. Despite the inane "This Time it Counts" rules, this is supposed to be a fun exhibition game in which players across the league get recognized for great achievements. For the second year in a row, Holt has made a bad team fun to watch, and he should be rewarded for that. If it’s a game in which players are supposed to represent their fan bases and give them someone to cheer for, with all due respect to Bogaerts and everyone else on the roster, is there someone we’d rather cheer for than Holt?
This all goes without mentioning how fun his positional versatility could be in a game like this. If Ned Yost had a sense of humor, he would send Holt to a new position for every play he’s in the game. He’s a guy that gets a ton of adoration from Red Sox fans, but isn’t a huge part of the national spotlight. The country being able to see what he can do all across the diamond would be a fitting All Star Game moment.
Holt hasn’t been the best player on this Red Sox team. If we’re going purely by merit, there are probably at least three players who should be chosen ahead of him. If I were a betting man, I’d be putting my entire life savings on Bogaerts being the one to make the team, and he’ll deserve it when he’s named. But if this is a week that’s about recognizing players, no one deserves it more than Holt. He’s been as fun to watch as any player in recent Red Sox history, and he’s done it one a couple of otherwise dreadful teams. So, I’m holding out hope that Yost or the other voting players will recognize this, and vote Holt and his hair into this game. \o/