(The Sox have had three pitchers -- Esteban Loaiza, Mark Buehrle and Chris Sale -- start the midsummer classic in years since.)
I would be more excited for Abreu if he weren't in the midst of the worst slump of his normally consistent and admirable career. In fact, if we were having this conversation about Abreu on June 1, I would have wholeheartedly endorsed his candidacy to be the starting American League first baseman.
Through May, Abreu had posted a slash line of .298/.360/.522 with nine home runs and 19 doubles. Those figures basically are right on par with his career totals of .296/.353/.515.
However, you can't ignore his subpar June and horrible start to July.
Abreu is hitting only .175/.232/.289 over his past 30 games with just two home runs. At one point in time, he was on pace to set a new club record for doubles in a season, but as I type here July 9, Abreu has been stuck on 27 doubles since June 20. Over that same span, he only has two extra-base hits -- a home run on June 27 and a triple on July 1.
This prolonged slump has dragged his season slash line down to a very un-Abreu-like .259/.315/.448.
There have been a couple years in the past where perhaps Abreu should have gotten an All-Star start but did not, so maybe this is a bit of a makeup call, or a reward for career achievement.
And there's no question Abreu is benefiting from a weak crop of AL first basemen this year. Future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera is out for the year. Eric Hosmer signed with the San Diego Padres last offseason and doesn't play in the American League anymore.
Who among AL first basemen really deserves the honor? Oakland's Matt Olson? Toronto's Justin Smoak? Both those men have good power numbers, but they are both .240 hitters. Boston's Mitch Moreland? I guess he's having a decent year, but does anyone really think he's a better player than Abreu?
I wouldn't say that any of these people are slam-dunk All-Stars, but somebody had to be chosen. Turns out Abreu got elected the starter, and Moreland was chosen as a reserve.
Hopefully, Abreu will find his swing sometime in the next week's worth of games. It would be nice to see him have a good showing July 17 in Washington.