To the surprise of many Chicagoans, the Cubs and White Sox both are sending more than one player to the mid-Summer classic in Kansas City this year. Beginning with the Cubs, Starlin Castro was a no-brainer to get his second consecutive All-Star game invitation. Castro leads all shortstops in the National League in hits, average, and second in RBI’s. Although much has been made of his lapses in the field since his debut in the majors, but Castro is only 22 and will only get better with age. The surprise Cubs All-Star is Cubs first baseman/right fielder Bryan LaHair. The 29-year-old journeyman made his MLB debut in 2008 with the Seattle Mariners, and wandered through the Minor’s until he was called up with the Cubs last year. His numbers aren’t exactly All-Star worthy with a batting average of .284, 13 homers, and 28 RBI’s but he’s third in the NL in home runs and seventh in hits. Got to be happy for the guy who has had trouble staying on a Major League roster, let alone an All-Star team, but even Cubs fans will admit that LaHair getting the nod is a shocker. Starting pitcher Ryan Dempster would have been well on his way to another All-Star game with the second lowest ERA in the National League at 2.11, but his injuries have kept him out of All-Star consideration. It’s been a rough season for the Cubs so far this season, getting two players to the All-Star game has to feel like a huge victory for the Northsiders.
As for the White Sox, with a week left until the break, it definitely comes as a surprise that the Southsiders still remain in first place in the AL Central. However, it seems inevitable that the Tigers will overtake the division before the season’s end, but Sox fans should enjoy the team’s success so far this year. The White Sox got three players invited to the All-Star game this year, and it really could have been more. Captain Paul Konerko is having another outstanding year batting .335, 14 homers, and 40 RBI’s, and will go to the All-Star game for the sixth time in his career. After an abysmal season last year for Adam Dunn, he has come back in his second year to finally become the player the White Sox thought they signed in free agency. Dunn is third in the Majors in home runs and fifth in RBI’s. With the injury plagued rotation for the Sox this year, starter Chris Sale was needed to step up big, but the numbers he is putting up as a first time starter in the Majors is remarkable. Sale’s 9-2 record, 2.27 ERA, and 94 strike outs places him in the top ten in all three categories. Given his stats this year he really should be the frontrunner to start the All-Star game for the AL, but in all probability a veteran pitcher like Justin Verlander or C.J. Wilson will probably get the nod to start. The White Sox have two other players, Jake Peavy and A.J. Pierzynski, who also very easily could have made the team, but were left off the roster by Rangers Manager Ron Washington. Peavy still has a shot to make the team with the last fan voting which is how Konerko got in last year, but with the Rangers’ Japanese starting pitcher Yu Darvish being on the list as well, it will be a hard task for Peavy to get in.