Everyone knows about the monster seasons being put forth by the likes of J.D. Martinez, Aaron Judge, Manny Machado and Mookie Betts. But there are many others in the American League East who are frequently performing heroics under the radar and deserve consideration for the All-Star Game in July.• VOTE:
Everyone knows about the monster seasons being put forth by the likes of J.D. Martinez, Aaron Judge, Manny Machado and Mookie Betts. But there are many others in the American League East who are frequently performing heroics under the radar and deserve consideration for the All-Star Game in July.
• VOTE: 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Ballot
Red Sox manager Alex Cora mentioned Mitch Moreland as one such candidate without prompting earlier this week.
"I was looking at the numbers around the league, and I hate to look ahead, but the way things are going, he should be a guy playing in Washington in a month and a half," said Cora. "No doubt about it."
Each team in the AL East has someone like that. Here is a closer look.
Blue Jays:J.A. Happ
The case for him: An injury-plagued first half for star third baseman Josh Donaldson likely means the Blue Jays will be without a position player at this year's All-Star Game. Happ appears to be the most logical candidate to represent Toronto after he became the apparent ace following early-season struggles by promising right-handers Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez. Happ is striking out more batters than ever before with 11.1 per nine innings, and he has posted at least eight K's in eight of his 12 starts. The 35-year-old might not be with the Blue Jays for much longer as he should be a top target for contending teams at this year's non-waiver Trade Deadline.
The case for him: You don't often put a five-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove Award winner in the category of stealth candidates to make the Midsummer Classic. But given the tough season the Orioles are having and the fact that Machado is the player who gets the most hype on that team, Jones is flying under the radar this year. He is having one of his finest offensive seasons and trails only Machado for the Orioles' lead in most key offensive categories. Jones could be in line for his first All-Star selection since 2015.
The case for him: Ramos was limited to just 57 starts behind the plate last season, when he was coming back from a torn ACL. This season, he is back to full health and has rediscovered his previous form. Among qualifiers, Ramos has the best OPS of any catcher in the AL. An All-Star in 2016 with the Nationals, Ramos is again worthy of the honor this season. He has also done well handling an unconventional pitching staff that frequently has "bullpen games."
Red Sox: Moreland
The case for him: When the Red Sox re-signed Moreland to a two-year deal in December, Hanley Ramirez was still under contract and the club was in hot pursuit of Martinez, who ultimately signed with Boston in February. When the season started, this left Moreland on the outside looking in on the team's depth chart. But nearly every time Moreland played, he produced. To give the left-handed-hitting veteran the playing time he earned, the Red Sox wound up releasing Ramirez. Moreland has only gotten better since he started playing every day and has been on an extra-base tear of late.
The case for him: Andujar has been overshadowed by some of the bigger names on the Yankees' roster; he hasn't even been the team's most celebrated rookie, considering the emergence of Gleyber Torres. Yet since he was promoted from the Minors in April, Andujar has been one of the team's most consistent hitters, showing a knack for barreling the baseball and legging out extra-base hits. As of Wednesday, he led all rookies in extra-base hits. His defense has also proven to be better than advertised.
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.