Stars shine brightly at Fenway

Yeah, you could say that the Boston Red Sox are wildly popular. Boston will be represented at the annual All-Star Game by seven players, tied for the most players with the Chicago Cubs, who also had seven selections.

Four Sox were voted as American League All-Star starters by the fans: 1B Kevin Youkilis, 2B Dustin Pedroia, LF Manny Ramirez and DH David Ortiz.

Three more Red Sox were voted in as reserves by their fellow players: C Jason Varitek, RF J.D. Drew and CL Jonathan Papelbon.

Are they deserving? Definitely! But I think there are a great number of players who are deserving, and there just isn’t room to recognize everyone. I think the All-Stars should be exciting players who have established themselves somewhat AND earned a spot by their first-half performance. Here’s my merit-based picks, position by position:

C Joe Mauer. Clearly. Dioner Navarro has earned the reserve spot. They got this one right; Tek is probably on the team because oh, I don’t know, he caught YET ANOTHER NO HITTER THIS YEAR!!!

1B Kevin Youkilis. All the way. Only Jason Giambi has a higher OPS, and he can’t be compared defensively to Youk. Giambi’s also hitting just .256. Justin Morneau is a deserving backup, with 65 RBI. The first base position has curiously become really thin at the top this season.

2B Ian Kinsler. I love Pedey as much as the next guy, but he just can’t stack up to what Kinsler, and to a lesser extent, Brian Roberts have done this season.

SS Michael Young. Young leads all shortstops in many categories, and only Jhonny Peralta comes close in OPS. Derek Jeter might not even be ranked third this year.

3B Alex Rodriguez. Far and away the winner at the hot corner. But Carlos Guillen and Joe Crede? Are you kidding me? They are middle of the pack this season, if that! Evan Longoria, Mike Lowell and Aubrey Huff are all worthier.

LF Carlos Quentin. This second-year player came out of nowhere and leads AL left fielders with 19 HR and 61 RBI. Manny should be a reserve, and perhaps Johnny Damon should get a nod for his 50 runs scored and .856 OPS.

CF Josh Hamilton. The story of the year has a chance to become the player of the year. Grady Sizemore is a close second.

RF Milton Bradley. I think he and J.D. Drew should flip places. Drew had an out-of-this-world month that makes him look very impressive, but he was floundering before that.

SP Roy Halladay, Joe Saunders, Cliff Lee, Justin Duchscherer, C.C. Sabathia, Josh Beckett, Javier Vazquez

RP Mariano Rivera, Joe Nathan, Francisco Rodriguez, Jonathan Papelbon, Joakim Soria, Scott Linebrink


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