It’s not even June yet. The All-Star Game is scheduled for mid-July. And yet, I’m already pondering who will be the White Sox representative in Miami. Now that the All-Star Game doesn’t have an actual effect on games played in October, it’s much easier to have fun with the fact that each team must have a player representing them in the midsummer classic. For a rebuilding team, finding that player can be an interesting exercise.
The young players are too inexperienced or simply not good enough to make it. That leaves Yoan Moncada (duh), Tim Anderson, and any of the pitchers who might make their White Sox debut in the coming month out of the equation. Then there are the underperforming veterans. Perhaps it seemed obvious that a Todd Frazier, Melky Cabrera, or Jose Quintana type would be donning the ugly All-Star attire for the White Sox coming into the season. However, none of those three have lived up to expectations, especially not to #ASGWorthy expectations.
What we’re left with is an odd group of players who all have a real chance at making it to Miami. Abreu seems like the obvious choice at this point. Unexpected players like Yonder Alonso, Logan Morrison, and Justin Smoak are crushing the ball right now, but the rest of the field at first base is thin. With a cool-off period certainly coming for the aforementioned first basemen and Abreu just now heating up, he could easily squeak in. He ranks fifth in wRC+ among qualified first basemen in the American League. The three odd emerging players mentioned before and Chris Davis are the only players above him. On the other hand, Alonso and company could keep up their torrid pace and make it an easy decision to keep Abreu out.
If Abreu can’t make it because of oddly great seasons from a few players, the White Sox do have some other options. There’s always Avisail Garcia, who somehow hasn’t completely cooled off yet. He’s still hitting .338/.388/.544 with a surprisingly low strikeout rate of just 19.0 percent entering play Wednesday. Among American League outfielders he ranks fourth in wRC+ with 157. Only Mike Trout, Aaron Judge, and Corey Dickerson have a higher wRC+ than Garcia. It would be hilarious, it would be sad, and it seriously could happen. Let’s continue to peruse the options though.
The other Garcia in the outfield is making quite a case. Leury Garcia is quietly hitting .312/.345/.486 with a 127 wRC+ and has taken over center field for the White Sox. His defense has been good, despite getting clocked in the head by a fly ball the other night. He’s also shown some surprising pop in his bat with four home runs and a .174 ISO. He hasn’t hit quite as well as the other Garcia or Abreu, and he doesn’t have the name recognition. However, he could be a dark horse for the All-Star Game spot if one of the other top Sox performers starts to crumble.
So far we’ve only discussed position players. The last time the White Sox even had a position player at the All-Star Game was 2014. Jose Quintana has already been dropped out of the race because of his poor start. After all, it took a few injured players to even get him on the All-Star roster last year despite an incredible start. It’s just not gonna happen. A pitching All-Star would have to come from the White Sox bullpen.
There are a couple candidates from the Sox bullpen. David Robertson hasn’t been as ridiculous as Anthony Swarzak or Tommy Kahnle, but he has the name recognition and performance to get him to the game. He’s currently sporting a 33.9 percent strikeout rate to go along with his 1.21 WHIP and 3.21 ERA. Those numbers are pretty good, but pale in comparison to Swarzak or Kahnle. Swarzak didn’t give up an earned run until Wendesday. He has a 35.5 percent strikeout rate, 3.2 percent walk rate, 0.31 WHIP, and 1.61 DRA. That is absolutely ridiculous.
Kahnle has also made his presence known with his wicked fastball and nasty changeup. His ERA is way above Swarzak’s at 1.80. He also has a comical 49.1 percent strikeout rate with a 7.3 percent walk rate, 0.80 WHIP, and 1.27 DRA. If either Swarzak or Kahnle can keep it up for the next month, they might have a shot at making it. With Terry Francona as the manager, they appear to have as good of a shot as anyone.
Who will be the White Sox representative at the midsummer classic? The favorite is probably Abreu. The backup might be Avisail Garcia if he keeps it up and gets enough support. A wackier, yet completely reasonable, choice would be either Swarzak or Kahnle from the bullpen. In a year where the team isn’t supposed to be competitive, a few odd players have actually stood out with outstanding seasons to date. Perhaps the White Sox even send a pair of players.Lead Photo Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports