TORONTO — Chris Sale making the All-Star team was a foregone conclusion. And with that formality out of the way, we now wait to find out whether he’ll be the American League’s starting pitcher next Tuesday in Miami.
Sale was one of three Red Sox named All-Stars today, and a fourth could join them as a final vote candidate.
Sale, Craig Kimbrel and Mookie Betts were each chosen on the players’ ballot, meaning they were picked by their peers to be among the best in the league. Shortstop Xander Bogaerts was one of five chosen for the final vote, an online ballot to fill the last spot on the roster.
“Obviously, being on a new team, being in a new city, makes it a little bit more special, too,” Sale said. “So, I’m excited for it.”
Sale leads the American League in innings, strikeouts and WHIP, and he’s second in ERA and wins. There seems to be a real chance manager Terry Francona could choose Sale as the American League’s starting pitcher and name Kimbrel to be the team’s closer. That decision would come on July 10.
“It would be neat,” Kimbrel said. “I haven’t had that opportunity to get the last out of an All-Star Game. If that opportunity comes, it would be pretty cool, definitely if Chris was starting.”
Said Sale: “I think he’s got a better chance of closing it out than I do starting it, but that would be fun.”
This was the sixth All-Star selection for both Sale and Kimbrel. Sale also started for the American League last season when he was with the White Sox.
“They’ve kind of been our backbone,” Betts said. “Just being part of the All-Star Game in general (is special), but going with those guys is definitely something special.”
This will be the second consecutive All-Star Game for Betts, who started in right field last season but this year fell out of the top three in fan voting. He currently ranks fifth in the league in WAR, according to FanGraphs, behind two outfield starters New York’s Aaron Judge and Houston’s George Springer.
“He’ll be right where he was last year, maybe better,” Bogaerts said. “That’s the type of guy that he is, the type of talent that he has. He can put the team on his back and just ride us into the playoffs.”
If there’s a snub in the Red Sox clubhouse, it might be Jackie Bradley Jr., who got off to a terrible start this season but has been as productive as anyone — including Betts — the past two months. He’s quietly moved into the top 20 in OPS in the American League, while once again playing strong defense in center field.
Bogaerts could also be a snub if he doesn’t win the final vote, or if he’s not ultimately selected as an injury replacement. The Red Sox shortstop ranks ninth in the league in WAR and sixth with a .314 batting average, but he also plays a position that’s especially deep in the American League.
Fans can vote online at MLB.com to make a final push for Bogaerts to join his teammates in Miami.
“Any time I can go with kind of like my brother, that would be great,” Betts said. “He’s had a great year. He’s done everything right and everything well. Obviously, I want him to come.”