Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 11/16/14
Koji Uehara’s All-Star candidacy took a hit Saturday. But there’s still no reason why he shouldn’t be dishing out high fives when MLB.com’s Final Vote concludes Thursday. Uehara not only has history on his side, but he’s also the American League Final Vote finalist who most deserves to be an All-Star, regardless of Saturday’s blown save against the Angels. AL All-Star manager Jim Leyland took a unique approach to this year’s Final Vote. All five AL finalists are relievers, as Uehara is joined by Detroit’s Joaquin Benoit, Toronto’s Steve Delabar, New York’s David Robertson and Texas’ Tanner Scheppers. One could argue that it’ll be the most boring Final Vote of all time, as it lacks star power in the AL and Dodgers rookie phenom Yasiel Puig figures to run away with things in the NL. But there’s nothing boring about Uehara and his importance to the Red Sox. Uehara’s numbers stack up well against the Final Vote competition. His 1.93 ERA is fourth among the five candidates, but his 0.83 WHIP is far and away the best — Roberston owns the next-best WHIP at 0.99. Uehara’s 5.5 hits allowed per nine innings ranks first, his 12.8 strikeouts per nine innings (53 K’s in 37 1/3 innings) matches Delabar’s mark (57 K’s in 40 innings), and his 6.63 strikeout-to-walk ratio blows the other four hurlers out of the water. Most of the numbers are relatively close when it comes to the five finalists, though, so perhaps we shouldn’t put too much stock into them. Besides, who gets to determine what statistical categories are weighed more heavily than others? Uehara’s All-Star candidacy instead boils down to this: He has been the best reliever in a very good bullpen for the best team in the American League, perhaps all of baseball. That has to count for something. Uehara suffered a bit of a setback Saturday when he entered the game with a four-run lead and the bases loaded with two outs in the ninth inning but failed to nail down a Red Sox victory. It was a difficult situation and we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that the game would have been over if Brandon Snyder didn’t overthrow Dustin Pedroia at second base, but Uehara still didn’t get the job done. There’s no way around that. After looking at each candidate’s overall resume, though, there’s still no reason why Uehara shouldn’t be the guy who gets in. The Red Sox’ bullpen has been strong for the most part, and Uehara is the biggest reason why. Andrew Bailey’s struggles in the closer role would have been crippling to most other teams, but John Farrell had the luxury of being able to turn to Uehara, who he knows is capable of succeeding in any role. The most ideal place for Uehara is the eighth inning, where he is a perfect, strike-throwing setup man, yet he has been forced to pitch outside of his comfort zone out of necessity. He has done an admirable job despite Saturday’s ninth-inning implosion, and that has saved the Red Sox a great deal of hassle for the time being. It’s hard to believe that this is Uehara’s first season in Boston. The amount of respect that his teammates have for him and his overall comfort level make it seem like he has been hanging around the Red Sox’ clubhouse for years. It speaks to the engaging, interesting and entertaining personality that Uehara possesses. We need that in the All-Star Game. Fortunately for Uehara — who said he’d probably “explode with excitement” if he makes the All-Star Game — he has a lot working in his favor. The Red Sox have a great track record when it comes to MLB.com’s Final Vote — with Johnny Damon (2002), Jason Varitek (2003) and Hideki Okajima (2007) having earned an All-Star berth based on the Final Vote in years past — and Uehara figures to garner a lot of support from voters in Japan. “It might be somewhat reminiscent of ’07 when Hideki was on that list of five and he probably had an entire country backing him in the voting, and hopefully it takes place again for Koji,” Farrell said Saturday. Even if Uehara doesn’t win this year’s Final Vote, the right-hander still has an open invitation to hit up Citi Field for the Midsummer Classic. “I’m taking him with me no matter what,” Red Sox All-Star David Ortiz said before Saturday’s game. “That’s my boy.” Uehara shouldn’t need to be Ortiz’s plus-one, though. He deserves his own invitation more than any of the other Final Vote candidates. Have a question for Ricky Doyle? Send it to him via Twitter at @TheRickyDoyle or send it here. Click here to vote for Uehara in the Final Vote >> Related articles Koji Uehara, Yasiel Puig Among Finalists in MLB.com’s 2013 All-Star Game Final Vote (nesn.com) 2013 MLB All-Star Game Rosters Revealed, Three Red Sox Players Make AL Squad (nesn.com)
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Richard Sherman: Marshawn Lynch having MVP season

Curt Schilling tweeted advice to Johnny Manziel

Aaron Rodgers buys TVs for Packers teammates

Harbaugh smiled when asked about Michigan's bday tweet

Jackie Robinson West Little League accused of cheating

Police: Fire that burned down McClain's home 'suspicious'

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Furniture store will refund purchases if OSU wins title

What each NFC team in the hunt should ask for from Santa

Is SI ashamed to mention Jameis Winston on its cover?

Kobe Bryant disappointed Lakers didn't get Rajon Rondo

Niners OT Anthony Davis takes shot at offensive coordinator

Report: Josh Smith expected to sign with Rockets

WATCH: Quincy Acy ejected for throwing punch at John Wall

Billy Beane did not want to trade Josh Donaldson

Peyton Manning plans to be back with Broncos next year

WATCH: Blazers announcer botches Damian Lillard call

WATCH: P.K. Subban disguises himself, surprises kids for Xmas

Baseball cards: a fan's love for the ultimate stocking stuffer

Packers game is a career defining moment for Stafford

A look inside Jason Grilli's contract with the Braves

10 Week 17 NFL matchups that will impact the playoffs

WATCH: Bahamas Bowl ends on insane Hail Mary play

Mike Yeo slams Wild for not having 'winner's attitude'

Michigan St. QB, Ohio State TE have awkward Twitter exchange

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

WATCH: Announcer botches call

Police: McClain fire 'suspicious'

10 Week 17 NFL matchups that will impact the playoffs

Bahamas Bowl ends on crazy Hail Mary

49ers OT Davis takes shot at coordinator

Will FIFA ever care to change?

Top storyline for each Week 17 game

40 great Christmas-related sports names

Nick Mangold and dealing with feelings as a sports fan

Ibaka, Aldridge ejected for scuffle

Baseball cards: a fan's love for the ultimate stocking stuffer

Nick Young on Kobe-less win: He needs to pass

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.