ARIZONA -- Derek Jeter, Buster Posey, Clayton Kershaw, Eric Sogard …
One name just doesn’t fit in with the rest of that star-studded bunch, correct?
In a surprising turn of events, it’s Sogard -- the Oakland A’s low-key and low-profile second baseman -- who is making a deep run in the MLB Network’s “Face of the Franchise” tournament, a popularity contest in which players for different teams are matched up against each other and fans vote one of them on to the next round.
It’s partly a testament to the Oakland fan base, which is voting like mad for Sogard, but also a testament to the likeability of Sogard, who’s cultivated a “Nerd Power” cult following at the Coliseum because of the eyeglasses he wears during games.
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Sogard, who looks the part of professor more than ballplayer, can only chuckle at playing the “Face of the Franchise” bracket buster. He’s beaten the Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo and the Rockies’ Troy Tulowitzki to advance to an all-Bay Area quarterfinal, where he’s matched up against Giants star catcher Buster Posey.
“It’s crazy,” Sogard said with a smile. “The fans are talking hold of it. To see my name on the board is probably the last thing I expected.”
Fans can vote on the Sogard vs. Posey battle all through the weekend.
The remaining players in the tourney besides Sogard are Posey, the Yankees’ Jeter, the Dodgers’ Kershaw, the Mariners’ Felix Hernandez, the Blue Jays’ Jose Bautista and the Mets’ David Wright.
So it’s Sogard -- owner of a .241 batting average over four big league seasons -- against six others who have combined for 33 All-Star Game appearances, three Cy Young awards and one MVP award.
His teammates are showing him love and needling him at the same time.
“Did he beat Tulowitzki?,” A’s first baseman Brandon Moss asked.
When told Sogard won, and that he’d face Posey next, Moss cracked:
“Oh … Well, it was a good run.”
But don’t put anything past Sogard, who wasn’t expected to upset Tulowitzki in the second round either.
“Obviously my baseball credentials don’t match up to these guys at all,” Sogard acknowledged. “I’m leaving it in the fans’ hands, and they’ve been awesome.”