While Brock Holt was celebrating his first All-Star selection, the Red Sox were preparing a push to get one more of their own in next week’s Midsummer Classic.
Blossoming shortstop Xander Bogaerts was named one of the five American League fan Final Vote candidates, giving him until Friday to get his own ticket to Cincinnati.
He’s up against the Tigers’ Yoenis Cespedes, the Twins’ Brian Dozier, the Yankees’ Brett Gardner, and the Royals’ Mike Moustakas.
Entering Tuesday night’s game, Bogaerts was batting .302 with 37 RBIs, 18 doubles, and a .339 on base percentage. He finished fourth among shortstops on the AL All-Star ballot with more than 2.3 million votes — the only Red Sox in the top five of fan voting. AL manager Ned Yost selected Holt as a reserve.
Tuesday, Bogaerts didn’t seem too disappointed to be left off the initial roster. But he definitely would like to win the Final Vote and helped his cause with a three-run single in the seventh that led the Sox to a 4-3 victory over Miami.
“I’m happy Brock got it,” Bogaerts said. “Brock has been having a good year for us this year, especially last year also. At least I have another chance, you know? It’s not that I’m completely out. I have a chance at the Final Vote, so hopefully if me and Brock can see each other over there it will be fun.”
In his second full season with the Red Sox, Bogaerts is having a breakout year. He hit .240 with 12 home runs, 46 RBIs, and a .297 on base percentage in 144 games last year.
Last offseason, Bogaerts went to train at the EXOS facility in Phoenix and set three goals for what he wanted to improve on this season. He wanted better speed on the basepaths and at shortstop, better power, and he wanted a chance to be an All-Star.
So far this season Bogaerts has four stolen bases, compared with the two he had all of last season; his .986 fielding percentage is better than the .975 he had in 99 games at short last year; and his slugging percentage of .414 this year is better than his .362 last year.
The only thing that’s left is that All-Star selection.
“It definitely would be nice,” Bogaerts said when asked about what it would mean to win the Final Vote. “It definitely would be fun, that’s for sure.”
Bogaerts, 22, said a difference this season is how comfortable he feels on the field, entering play prepared and focused day in and day out. He also said that second baseman Dustin Pedroia helped a lot in his development in Arizona during the offseason.
Pedroia talked to Bogaerts about angles to use when approaching balls in the infield. Plus, Bogaerts said being able to anticipate plays has been part of his maturation process.
“Even anticipating you might hit in this situation, with runners on, with no one on, and stuff like that,” Bogaerts said. “Just anticipation has been a big difference for me this year.”
Several lockers down from Bogaerts in the Red Sox clubhouse is veteran Shane Victorino, who knows how it feels to have his All-Star hopes hinge on a Final Vote. Victorino won the Final Vote in 2009 and 2011 with the Phillies.
Victorino said the clubhouse is fully behind the push to get Bogaerts to Cincinnati.
“We’re all in,” Victorino said. “I mean, I know what it takes to kind of win a Final Vote.”
Bogaerts has some tough competition, though. Royals fans had a strong showing in the initial voting and could back Moustakas just as hard. Then there’s Gardner from the New York market.
The Red Sox are running a number of promotions to get fans to vote for Bogaerts, including a “#XforASG” hashtag, promotional videos, “Vote Xander” stickers, voting booths at Fenway, and more. The team is even partnering with the Dodgers to get joint votes for Bogaerts and Clayton Kershaw, who’s part of the National League Final vote. Voting ends at 4 p.m. on Friday.
Red Sox won the Final Vote in 2002 with Johnny Damon, 2003 with Jason Varitek, and 2007 with Hideki Okajima.
Manager John Farrell joked that he’ll vote for Bogaerts 35 times a day.
“He continues to come along as a player,” Farrell said. “And, playing at a high rate, high speed. Offensively he’s doing a great job and hopefully that’s going to generate the recognition deserved.”