By Tony Massarotti, 98.5 The Sports Hub
So let me get this straight: Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi and Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton are the leading candidates for the final spot on the 2018 American League All-Star team, and some people actually think this is a debate. It isn’t. Stanton is the obvious choice and it isn’t even close.
Sorry, Red Sox fans.
But there’s a reason they call it the All-Star Game.
Semantics? Maybe. But take the laundry out of it and ask yourself a simple question: whom would you rather see hit, Benintendi or Stanton? If you’re trying to actually win a game, Benintendi might actually be the better choice, though it likely depends on the situation. (If you’re looking for a three-run homer, Stanton is probably the guy.) But if the objective is to be entertained – and isn’t that what the All-Star Game is all about? – then the choice is Stanton and only Stanton. It’s a landslide.
Whether Stanton actually wins is anybody’s guess because we all know the voting usually goes for the final spot on the All-Star team. When Major League Baseball first introduced the fan vote years ago, Red Sox players annually won because their fan base was the most driven. Interest in the Red Sox was at an all-time high and Sox players reaped the benefits.
But now? Starting last season, the last five AL Final Vote winners are, going backwards, Mike Moustakas, Michael Saunders, Moustakas again, Chris Sale and somebody named Steve Delabar. The fact that Moustakas has made the list twice speaks to the popularity and success of the Kansas City Royals in recent years. Saunders and Delabar were both Toronto players.
Fact: a Red Sox player hasn’t won the fan vote since 2007, when Hideki Okajima got the nod.
Statistically, Benintendi and Stanton are reasonably close. Benintendi ranks 11th in the American league in OPS and is undoubtedly the more well-rounded player. Stanton ranks 16th and is the far sexier choice. If it matters, he has been the better player since June 1.
You? You can have Benintendi, who certainly deserves to be in the discussion. But if we’re talking about prime-time star value, I’ll take Stanton every time.
In fact, I’d rather watch Stanton take batting practice in the All-Star Game than see Benintendi actually play in it.