Will Middlebrooks Sees This Red Sox Player As Clear All-Star Snub

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Sox Talk with Will Middlebrooks is a recurring content series on NESN.com. Middlebrooks, a former Red Sox player and current NESN analyst, gives his insight and opinion on pertinent Red Sox storylines throughout the season. You can read the latest stories from the series here.

The Boston Red Sox had to be satisfied with Rafael Devers, Jarren Duran and Tanner Houck being selected as All-Stars.

But could the Red Sox have had a fourth player named to the American League roster? Will Middlebrooks certainly thinks there’s a legitimate case for it.

In fact, Middlebrooks believes a Red Sox player got snubbed in the All-Star voting process and should have made it over one of the top relievers for the New York Yankees.

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“I would say Kenley Jansen,” Middlebrooks told NESN.com. “If you’re looking at true numbers and you want to compare him and Clay Holmes. Clay Holmes is 1-3 with a three ERA. Jansen is 3-1 with a two ERA. If you’re looking at closers that seems important. I don’t want to dig too deep in to say there’s Yankees bias, but sometimes I feel like there is.”

As Middlebrooks pointed out, Jansen’s statistics are more favorable than what Holmes produced on the mound. Jansen holds the edge in ERA entering Wednesday night — 2.01 to 3.00 — and WHIP — 1.05 to 1.31. Jansen also only has one blown save on the season while Holmes has five.

The two squared off this past weekend with the Red Sox taking on the Yankees in the Bronx. Jansen closed out two games in the set, including an extra-inning win in the series opener. That was made possible thanks to Holmes allowing a two-run home run to Masataka Yoshida in the top of the ninth.

Jansen, who was the only Red Sox representative at the All-Star Game a season ago, certainly isn’t at the height of his powers like he was when he made three straight All-Star appearances with the Los Angeles Dodgers in the mid-2010s. But the 36-year-old right-hander has adapted to less velocity to still be effective in the latter stages of his stellar career.

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“He’s at his best at the top of the zone, in my opinion,” Middlebrooks said. “He doesn’t throw it up there as much now because he’s at 93, 94, and it’s a little more hittable. But I still think at the top of the zone, I don’t know if it’s just the angle his ball spins with the cut, it’s like you see it in one spot and you swing, and it just stays above your barrel. It was the hardest pitch for me to get on top of.”

While Middlebrooks saw Jansen as deserving of an All-Star nod, the 2013 Red Sox World Series champion thought another member of the team made a push to be considered.

Connor Wong took over as the primary catcher for the Red Sox this season and has produced strong results, batting .309 with seven home runs, 31 RBIs and four stolen bases. But with the All-Star teams carrying just two catchers per side, Wong got edged out by Baltimore Orioles star Adley Rutschman and Kansas City Royals veteran Salvador Perez.

“I wouldn’t say Wong was a snub just because they always carry two catchers,” Middlebrooks said. “I do think he was the third (catcher) if you look at overall production. He didn’t hit for as much power as Perez.”

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Jansen and Wong will have to watch from afar as their teammates participate in the All-Star Game, which takes place next Tuesday at Globe Life Field in Texas.

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