The White Sox are sending three players to the All-Star Game in Cleveland, a number of representatives the franchise hasn’t seen since 2014. Lucas Giolito, James McCann and Jose Abreu all getting All-Star nods is a nice recognition of the team’s rebuilding progress in a 2019 season that’s been filled with bright spots.
But South Side baseball fans wanted more.
Yes, the consensus seems to be that three White Sox in the Midsummer Classic is too few. Where is Tim Anderson? Where is Yoan Moncada? Where is Alex Colome? For a fan base that watched its team lose a combined 195 games during the 2017 and 2018 seasons, that might sound greedy. The only AL team with more initial All Stars than the White Sox was the Houston Astros, with six. The New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians saw their totals grow to five and four representatives, respectively, once the injury replacements were announced. The Yankees now have five, and the Indians have four.
But certainly cases could be made that Anderson, Moncada and Colome all deserved All-Star recognition. And if you’re bummed that those three won’t be joining the other three in Cleveland, you’re not alone.
“I absolutely think Tim should have gone. I think Moncada should have gone. I think Colome had an argument to go,” general manager Rick Hahn said Wednesday. “At the same time, I’m guessing all 30 GMs feel there’s a few more guys on their team that could have conceivably made it.
“And when I looked at the player voting for shortstop and saw where TA came in, initially I was like, ‘Well, wait, that’s too low.’ And then I saw the four guys that came in ahead of him and was like, ‘You know those guys are pretty good players. I guess that’s why he’s in that group where he is.’ There’s a lot of excellent young players in the league right now.”
Indeed there are. The shortstops who will be suiting up for the AL are Jorge Polanco of the Minnesota Twins, Francisco Lindor of the hosting Indians and Xander Bogaerts of the Boston Red Sox. Even Bogaerts didn’t make the team at first, added later as an injury replacement. Polanco’s got a whopping 41 extra-base hits, enough to earn him election to the starting spot. Bogaerts leads all AL shortstops with a .920 OPS. Lindor’s numbers are closer to Anderson’s, but he’s got more doubles, more homers and a heck of a lot more walks.
But Anderson truly broke out during the first half. He still ranks high in the AL with a .317 batting average, and his 15 stolen bases rank third among AL shortstops. Anderson, too, carved out a name for himself on the national stage with his bat-flipping after home runs and a stated goal to help make the game more fun. Having him on the All-Star team would have been good for baseball, no doubt. But a high ankle sprain that will likely keep him on the injured list a few more weeks made everything rather moot.
Moncada, meanwhile, is in the midst of a great season. After striking out 217 times in 2018, his first full season in the bigs, he’s currently the owner of a .308/.363/.546 slash line, plus 16 home runs and 48 RBIs. Among AL third basemen, only Boston’s Rafael Devers (not on the All-Star team) has a higher average and a higher slugging percentage.
The power numbers of Houston’s Alex Bregman, the AL starter at third base, and Oakland's Matt Chapman, a reserve, deservedly got them into the game. But there’s a good argument to make that Moncada should be there, too, as he continues to show how vastly improved he is from a season ago.
“I put my best effort in the first half. I worked hard,” Moncada said Sunday through team interpreter Billy Russo. “I was able to carry over all the work that I put in during the offseason. I worked a lot then to have a better season overall, not just the first half. And I’m very confident I’ll be able to carry this to the second half too.”
“I think it goes without saying, if anybody looks at the numbers and the way he's performed. He's an All-Star quality player,” manager Rick Renteria said before Sunday’s game. “I pull for these guys every day, but I think he's shown everybody. If you compare his numbers to many, they're quite comparable. He's on pace to have a pretty good season.”
Moncada wasn’t disappointed he missed out on the All-Star experience in 2019, saying it was out of his hands whether he was named to the team or not. But he knows what the next step is for him.
“Being an All Star,” he said. “We couldn’t do it this year. Maybe next year.”
And then there’s Colome, who has spent the first half of his first season on the South Side as a mostly dominant closer. The only three AL closers with more saves — New York’s Aroldis Chapman, Cleveland’s Brad Hand and Detroit’s Shane Greene — are all on the All-Star team. Chapman and Greene have both blown more saves than Colome, and Hand has a higher ERA. That’s not to knock those three, who have all been excellent for their respective clubs, but it shows that Colome is in their same class.
Certainly the White Sox aren’t voicing any displeasure other than their opinion that Anderson, Moncada and Colome are among the best at their positions in the Junior Circuit. And certainly they’re thrilled to send the redemption stories of Giolito and McCann, along with Abreu, who they love so much, to Cleveland.
But this might be just the beginning. If the White Sox rebuilding plans bear the fruit the team expects they will, multiple South Siders in the All-Star Game won’t be accompanied by digging through the history books. And snubs might be a regularity — because you can only send so many guys to the Midsummer Classic each year.
“I think over the coming years, our guys are going to continue to solidify their name and their space on those lists,” Hahn said, “and hopefully we’ll see more and more appearances here in the coming years.
“Frankly, it’s great to have a midseason honor. We’re looking forward to having some postseason honors for these kids. That’s really more what the focus is for the long term.”