Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 7/7/13
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)
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Auburn legend Bo Jackson using Heisman vote for Alabama star

Gronk: Tom Brady doesn't age, seems like he's in his 20s

Cam Newton says Greg Hardy was a 'great teammate'

Ohio State plans to end Mirror Lake jump tradition after death

WATCH: Jason Kidd ejected for swiping ball out of ref's hands

Brad Stevens: Celtics had 'real conversations' after loss to Hawks


Les Miles unsure about his future at LSU

Saban will not rule out Kenyan Drake for Iron Bowl

Andre Drummond responds to Khris Middleton saying he doesn’t like contact

Lacking Jazz: Why Utah’s offense has struggled this season

Magic to bench Victor Oladipo, start Channing Frye

10 unheralded NFL players set to make a major impact in Week 12

LeBron James, James Jones lead players-only meeting after loss

Brady: Few have more respect for Peyton Manning than me

WATCH: Marcus Foligno flips Carter Hutton

Blaine Gabbert was only person at his press conference

Report: Alabama DC Kirby Smart a front-runner for South Carolina job

Kristaps Porzingis really wants to meet Turtle from ‘Entourage’

Top storyline for each Week 12 NFL game

WATCH: Ref injures Yakupov's leg by pulling him down

Ryan Fitzpatrick shaves beard to ‘switch up the mojo’

Bedlam is bigger than ever, but which team will be better than ever?

5 outrageous predictions for Week 12 of the NFL season

How the Detroit Lions became the face of football on Thanksgiving Day

The 10 most disappointed fan bases of the 2015 college football season

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.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Top storyline for each Week 12 NFL game

Top 10 matchups for Week 12 of the NFL season

The 10 most disappointed fan bases of the 2015 CFB season

Gronk: Takes mental toughness not to overeat on Thanksgiving

Blue Jays fans create website in effort to keep David Price

The five most overrated teams in the Week 13 coaches' poll

10 storylines for Week 13 of the college football season

Ranking the 10 best games of 2015 college football rivalry week

Examining the Mavericks' hot start

Johnny Bench(ed): Manziel demoted to third string

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker