Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers named to American League All-Star team as starters

Red Sox infielders Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers have been named to the American League All-Star team as starters, Major League Baseball announced Thursday night.

Bogaerts becomes an All-Star for the third time in his career and is slated to start an All-Star Game for just the second time after getting the starting nod at shortstop for the American League back in 2016.

Following a 1-for-4 showing at the plate in Boston’s 15-1 win over the Royals at Fenway Park on Thursday, the 28-year-old is now slashing .329/.391/.550 with 25 doubles, 13 home runs, 48 RBI, 50 runs scored, 29 walks, 57 strikeouts, and five stolen bases through his first 77 games (325 plate appearances) of the 2021 season.

Among qualified American League shortstops, Bogaerts came into play Thursday ranking first in hits (94), first in doubles (24), third in homers, third in runs scored (49), third in RBI, first in batting average (.330), second in on-base percentage, first in slugging percentage (.551), first in OPS (.942), first in weighted on-base average (.400), second in wRC+ (151), and first in fWAR, per FanGraphs.

“For Xander to be a starter, that means the world. He’s one of the best, if not the best shortstop in the big-leagues,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said following the rout over Kansas City on Thursday afternoon. “The way he goes about his business, it’s amazing. I’ve been saying all along, he’s the most consistent in this organization. He’s amazing. Day in and day out he shows up, he works and he goes out there and performs. There’s no red flags on the field and off the field. This kid got here and he contributed to win a World Series.”

By finishing in first place in regards to the fan vote, Bogaerts beat out the likes of Toronto’s Bo Bichette and Houston’s Carlos Correa for the top spot among AL shortstops.

Devers, meanwhile, becomes an All-Star for the first time in his young career after nearly making the team in 2019.

The 24-year-old enjoyed a productive day at the plate on Thursday, as he went 3-for-5 a home run, three runs scored, and five runs driven in to raise his batting line on the season to .288/.359/.582.

The homer, a 426-foot three-run blast, was his 20th of the season, while his five RBI brought his total on the year up to an American League-leading 69 through 78 games (329 plate appearances).

As of Thursday morning, Devers ranked first among qualified AL third basemen in hits (81), first in doubles (24), first in home runs (19), second in runs scored (52), first in RBI, first in batting average (.282), fourth in on-base percentage (.355), first in slugging percentage (.571), first in OPS (.926), first in isolated power (.289), first in weighted on-base average (.387), first in wRC+ (143), and first in fWAR (3.0), according to FanGraphs.

Devers finished in first place among American League third baseman in terms of fan votes, as he beat out Houston’s Alex Bregman and Chicago’s Yoan Moncada for the No. 1 spot.

“[With] Raffy, we had a conversation early in the season, actually in spring training. It was him understanding what was going on in the business,” said Cora. “Looking around and everybody’s talking about all these young kids, right? (Fernando) Tatis, (Ronald) Acuña, (Vladimir Guerrero Jr.), (Cavan) Biggio, (Bo) Bichette, and people forget about the fact that he’s 24. He led the big leagues in extra-base hits two years ago and he’s doing what he’s doing now. For him to get recognized, I know it it means the world for him, it means the world for the organization.”

To put it simply, both Bogaerts and Devers are having stellar seasons with the Red Sox to this point, and the two teammates will become the first pair of Boston infielders ever to start in the same All-Star Game at shortstop and third base.

J.D. Martinez and Alex Verdugo, who were both named All-Star finalists along with Bogaerts and Devers on Sunday, were not named as starters for the American League side on Thursday.

That being the case because Martinez finished second behind Angels two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani to start at designated hitter for the AL, while Verdugo finished ninth among eligible AL outfielders and behind the likes of the Angels’ Mike Trout, the Yankees’ Aaron Judge, and the Blue Jays’ Teoscar Hernandez.

While Martinez and Verdugo will not start this year’s Midsummer Classic, there is still a chance for both of them to partake in the festivities, as pitchers and reserves for both the American League and National League teams will be announced on Sunday, July 4.

From there, All-Star Week will begin in Denver on July 11 with the All-Star Futures Game, and the All-Star Game itself will take place at Coors Field on July 13.

(Picture of Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Watching Mookie Betts Do Mookie Betts Things Is Not as Enjoyable as It Once Was

In case you missed it, former Red Sox star Mookie Betts had a vintage Mookie Betts game for the Dodgers on Friday night.

Playing in his second game at Chase Field in Dodger blue, the 27-year-old outfielder went 3-for-5 at the plate with a double, a home run, and two runs driven in out of the two-hole.

That homer, which came off Diamondbacks right-hander Zac Gallen to lead off the fourth inning, was Betts’ first as a member of the Dodgers. According to Statcast, the ball traveled 375 feet and had an exit velocity of 96.2 mph off his axe-handle bat.

“I was just swinging to stay in the at-bat,” Betts said later on. “I don’t know how that stayed fair.”

Not only did Betts impress offensively, but he also dazzled in right field as well, something Red Sox fans had grown accustomed to in the four-time All-Star’s time in Boston.

The latest instance of Betts’ superb defensive prowess emerged right away in the bottom of the first on Friday, when DBacks star Ketel Marte tried to turn a leadoff double off Dodgers starter Tony Gonsolin into a leadoff triple, but ultimately paid the price in the end. That being the case because, upon fielding Marte’s grounder in the right field corner, the four-time Gold Glover unleashed a 305-foot missile of an outfield assist to Corey Seager to nab the Arizona infielder at third.

Betts’ throw got to Seager in a matter of seconds, all without taking a single bounce to get to the Dodgers shortstop covering the bag. He did something very similar against the Rays at Tropicana Field last September.

“That’s over 300 feet in the air on a dime,” Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts said postgame, in awe. “Whether it’s the glove, the bat — he had a good offensive night — or the arm. Guess that’s why he’s wearing gold out there.”

The Dodgers ultimately fell to the Diamondbacks, 5-3, after squandering a late 3-1 lead, but still, the night Betts put together after a rather slow start to the 2020 campaign is probably a decent compromise.

After getting dealt from the Red Sox to the Dodgers as part of a five-player trade in February, Betts inked a record-setting 12-year, $365 million extension with Los Angeles late last month to remain in southern California for the foreseeable future.

“I know the Dodgers are gonna be good for a long time,” he said at his July 22 press conference announcing the extension. “I love being here. I love everything about here.”

For the Red Sox, Betts was just about everything you would want in a major-league player. Homegrown, five-tool caliber, perennial All-Star and MVP candidate, a great smile, and a great figure in the community. All that being said, Sox brass convinced themselves that the 2018 AL MVP needed to be traded or else they would lose him for nothing in free agency this winter.

Financials aside, which really shouldn’t be a problem for a big-market club like the Red Sox anyway, Betts now looks like the modern-day superstar who got away from Boston as he is already establishing himself once again in Los Angeles.

Red Sox’ Rafael Devers on Teammate Xander Bogaerts: ‘He’s Probably the Best Person I’ve Ever Met in My Life’

Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts arguably make up the best left side of any infield in the American League. Last year, the pair combined to hit 65 home runs and 106 doubles, becoming the first teammates to ever collect 30 long balls and 50 two-baggers in the same season.

On the field, the two Caribbean stars are as dominant as ever and may just be the best two players on the Red Sox now that Mookie Betts is in Los Angeles. Off the field, though, the two share a special bond, and that’s mostly thanks to Bogaerts.

In a story from ESPN’s Joon Lee highlighting Bogaerts’ sense of leadership amid a worldwide pandemic, several players spoke highly of what the 27-year-old has meant for them. The players interviewed by Lee were mostly of the younger variety who have made their major-league debuts within the last three years, such as Michael Chavis, Darwinzon Hernandez, and of course, Devers.

In talking with Lee, the 23-year-old Devers credits Bogaerts for “helping him break out as a full-fledged star in 2019” while also acknowledging the fact that Bogaerts speaks multiple languages — English, Spanish, Dutch and Papiamento — and how that is a very helpful attribute to have in a diverse clubhouse.

“Out of everyone, he’s probably the best person I’ve ever met in my life,” Devers said of his Summer Camp suite-mate. “So the fact that he’s always so happy and the fact that he does speak different languages helps bring everyone together.”

Having a mentor like Bogaerts, who has seemingly risen to the role even more since signing a six-year, $120 million extension with Boston last spring, should be something all major-league clubs strive for.

Bogaerts experienced the growing pains a big-leaguer endures as a rookie back in 2013, and he calls back to the help he received from the veterans on that year’s Red Sox team, such as David Ortiz, David Ross, Mike Napoli, and Dustin Pedroia, while passing down wisdom to his peers now.

“I remember I was scared. I was a little nervous, actually not a little nervous,” said Bogaerts of his rookie year, when he was just 20 years old. “I was really nervous because I don’t really want to mess up with all these big boys, and I wasn’t used to a situation like that, but it all worked out great, man. It all worked out great. I learned a lot from them.”

As it turns out, it would appear that Bogaerts did learn a lot from those guys on the 2013 team. And as he and the Red Sox prepare to embark on what’s sure to be a bizarre 60-game season, that knowledge gained seven years ago will likely come in handy over the next few months.