The All-Star selections were released Sunday afternoon. And while J.D. Martinez and Mookie Betts will represent the Red Sox in Cleveland, Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers won’t.
Prior to Sunday’s selection of reserves, Sox manager Alex Cora was asked if Bogaerts was underrated. His response was simple: “Very.”
He raved about Bogaerts’s baseball IQ, but, more importantly, pointed out that his production is up.
“He’s been great,” Cora said. “It’s fun to write his name in the lineup every day. He’s a leader. He’s a leader of our team. We’ve been talking about it for the last month that we made a big commitment with him to keep him here and it looks really good.”
On Friday, he spoke glowingly about Devers, too.
“We’re very proud of him and the way he’s gone about his business,” Cora said. “It’s somebody that a lot of people thought it wasn’t going to happen [his production]. It’s happening.”
Betts called the selection to his fourth All-Star game an honor after he and Martinez were voted in by the players. But his focus quickly shifted to Devers and Bogaerts not making the cut.
“With those guys, they’ve been carrying us all season,” said Betts, who also put catcher Christian Vazquez in the group. “They should definitely get more recognition. I know it’s the All-Star Game and there are some big names there. I’d just like for guys to vote fairly and not just off names.”
By his standards, Betts is having a down year. He is hitting .261 with 13 homers and 37 RBIs. His OPS is .837, respectable but far off last season’s 1.078. At the break last year, he was hitting .359 with 23 homers. That type of productivity is tough to match. But Betts knows the current version of him isn’t who he is.
“I’m just trying to do the things I can do,” Betts said. “I’ve been working hard in the cage to try and get back to somewhat normal. I’m trying to do what I can as far as playing defense and drawing some walks.”
“His numbers are down for what he’s capable of doing,” Martinez said of Betts. “If you look at his OPS he’s right up there. That just shows you that grinding-it-out mentality and not giving in. I know everyone thinks he’s having an awful year. But if you look at that number [OPS] he’s still very productive, and he’s still All-Star-level productive.”
As for Martinez, he said the All-Star game is something that he’s looking forward to.
“Any time you get to go there and be around the best in the game, it’s pretty cool,” he said. “It’s always been something that I tried and dreamed of making. I knew I had to work to get there.”
Martinez admitted, like Betts, this season has been a grind for him. He is hitting .298 with 18 homers, including a solo shot in Sunday's loss to the Yankees.
The case was easy to make for Bogaerts and Devers.
Bogaerts is leading all shortstops in OPS (.932). He’s leading the position in on-base percentage, too (.392). If you care about batting average, his .299 mark is fourth best in the majors.
“It is what it is, you know,” Bogaerts said. “I can’t vote for myself.”
Devers has had a breakout season, too. He posted an .897 OPS and a .372 OBP to go along with a .322 batting average and 12 homers.
“He’s been amazing,” Martinez said of Devers. “He’s hitting the ball harder than anyone I’ve seen all year. It just seems every time you look he’s hitting a double somewhere. It’s one of those things where you don’t want to say anything to him. You just want to leave him alone and let him keep doing his thing.”
The Twins’ Jorge Polanco was elected the starting shortstop and the Astros’ Alex Bregman got the nod at third base. The reserve at shortstop was the Indians’ Francisco Lindor, while the A’s Matt Chapman will back up Bregman at third.
“It’s one of those systems where it always seems someone gets screwed out of it,” Martinez said.
Bogaerts left Saturday’s game in the eighth with leg cramps in both calves. Before that, both Andrew Benintendi (quad) and Brock Holt (hamstring) were taken out in the seventh.
Holt and Benintendi sat out Sunday’s London series finale. Cora described Benintendi as just having dead legs. Holt isn’t 100 percent but is being used in spurts until he gets healthy. The turf conditions played a bit of a role, too, in how Cora used the two for this series.
If Jackie Bradley Jr. had one piece of advice for the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals, who will play in next year’s London Series, it’s to definitely follow recommendations on sleeping. Ahead of this series players were given details on the flight here: sleep on the plane, arrive in London in the morning, do everything you can to stay up before finally crashing in the evening.
The weekend has been a whirlwind for the Red Sox. And all the sleep in the world might not do the trick. They had media day Friday and then played a 4-hour and 42-minute game with a combined 30 runs. In between all of that, the Sox met the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Harry and Meghan.
“It was amazing,” Bradley said. “Especially when you’re getting phone calls [and] texts from everybody from back home. I got a text from one of my friends,, ‘I can’t believe you got to share the same oxygen.’ Everybody thinks it’s a real big deal. It was amazing getting to meet them. Hope I get to meet them again in the future.”
Playing long ball
The Sox hit three homers in the first inning against the Yankees on Sunday. That was the sixth time they have done that in a first inning of a game. The last time was Aug. 14, 1979 . . . The combined attendance for both days was 118,718 . . . At first pitch it was 72 degrees. A lot cooler than Saturday’s 92 degrees at game time. There were a total of 50 runs scored between the teams in this series.
Julian McWilliams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.