People have been lobbying for Dodgers rookie Yasiel Puig to make the all-star game, but why not Jose Iglesias?
(photo Debby Wong, USA Today)
Unless you’ve been vacationing off-planet since the start of June, you’ve heard the clamor of voices shrieking for Los Angeles Dodgers rookie outfielder Yasiel Puig to be included in the 2013 edition of the Major League Baseball All-Star Game at Citi Field in New York July 16.
The Cuban phenom recorded a blistering first month in Dodger Blue, hitting .436 with seven homers and 16 RBI. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he’s only the second player with 44 hits in his first 100 at-bats since Earle Combs did it with the Yankees in 1924-’25. His 44 hits are also the second most by any player in his first calendar year since Joe DiMaggio, who stroked 48 in May of 1936.
While Puig isn’t listed on any of the All-Star ballots that were printed in April, he can still reach the roster for the Midsummer Classic via write-in fan votes at the bottom of every ballot. If he does, he’d become the first Dodger since Steve Garvey in 1974 and the third overall (Rico Carty in 1970) to springboard to the all-star game by write-in.
So what, then, about Red Sox shortstop/third baseman Jose Iglesias?
Since his call-up to the majors on May 24, Iglesias has reached base at least once in 32 of the 33 games in which he's had a plate appearance. He put together an 18-game hit streak through May and June and recorded his 18th multi-hit outing in 40 games this season on Tuesday night against the San Diego Padres, going 2 for 3 with an RBI and raising his average to .415. He’s made an effortless, fluid switch from shortstop to third and back again, deemed Pedro Ciriaco expendable and been partly responsible for Will Middlebrooks’ recent demotion to Pawtucket. He’s hitting .773 on line drives in 2013 and is batting .561 with a .620 OBP when he comes to plate and his team is behind.
Take away the home runs and RBI. There’s no arguing with Puig’s power production. In terms of plate prowess and finesse, however, Iglesias has made just as good a case as Puig to springboard to the all-star game. From June 4-30, Puig went 42 for 97 (.433/.466 OBP) with five doubles, one triple, four walks and 20 strikeouts. During that same span, Iglesias went 31 for 79 (.392/.455 OBP) with four doubles, two triples, eight walks and eight strikeouts.
It’s true that nobody has electrified the Dodger fan base or re-energized the team in such a fashion since Fernando Valenzuela, but if Puig is in the conversation to reach the National League all-star roster after only a month’s service time, shouldn’t the same type of consistency Iglesias has displayed in only 40 games also put him smack-dab in the middle of that same debate on the American League side?
If it were up to former Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon, however, neither Puig nor Iglesias would get a spot in the game.
“To me, it’s an absolute joke,” said Papelbon, of the uproar over Puig’s potential candidacy. “It’s really kind of stupid if you ask me. The guy’s got a month, I don’t even think he’s got a month in the big leagues… To me it really does an injustice to the veteran players that have been in the game for eight-, nine-, 10-plus years…because they’ve worked so hard to stay there.”
Unfortunately for Papelbon, the write-in vote isn’t the only hope for Puig — or Iglesias. There’s also the All-Star Final Vote, an annual Internet and text message campaign that has allowed fans to select the 34th and final player on both the AL and NL all-star teams since 2002. Five players are nominated in each league by the respective all-star game manager in conjunction with the commissioner's office. The last Red Sox player to win the Final Vote honor was Hideki Okajima in 2007. Johnny Damon and Jason Varitek were both selected to represent the AL via the Final Vote in 2002 and ’03, respectively.
The All-Star Game rosters will be unveiled July 6 at 12:30 p.m. EST on the 2013 MLB All-Star game selection show on FOX.