Chicago White Sox: 7 Players Worthy of All-Star Consideration PLUS UPDATE
The Chicago White Sox are the surprise leaders of the AL Central entering July. Will this fact be represented at the All-Star Game on July 10?
The selections will be announced at noon on Sunday. I would be surprised if any less than three South Siders are included on the squad.
Here are seven White Sox deserving of at least a look when it comes All-Star consideration.
1. Paul Konerko, First Base
The only question with Konerko is when he appears in this game. Is he starting or not?
Despite cooling off in recent weeks, the captain has been otherworldly with the bat in the first half. He currently leads AL first basemen in average (.336), on base percentage (.413), slugging percentage (.556) and OPS (.969).
Konerko was second in votes in the waning days of balloting. Will voter support result in a start July 10?
UPDATE: Konerko was named an AL reserve behind starter Prince Fielder Sunday.
2. A.J. Pierzynski, Catcher
It will be a crime if Pierzynski isn't representing the American League.
Pierzynski not only leads AL backstops in RBI (45), he is second in home runs (14) and runs scored (36). He is also tossing out almost 32 percent of would-be base-stealers. He also leads full-time AL catchers with a .996 fielding percentage.
Pierzynski is having a career year at and behind the plate. I don't see how this can be overlooked.
UPDATE: ...and yet it was. Napoli is starting for the AL and the two reserve catchers are Mauer and...Matt Wieters from Baltimore? This is a horrendous omission that I will analyze in-depth on Monday.
3. Adam Dunn, Designated Hitter
The .213 average and the 125 strikeouts may preclude Dunn making the AL squad, but on the other hand, his bat has been productive in the first half.
Dunn is near the top of the league with 24 home runs and 58 RBI. His on base percentage is at a respectable .363, thanks to leading the majors with 64 walks.
David Ortiz and Edwin Encarnacion are both deserving candidates, which may keep Dunn from his first All-Star appearance since 2002.
UPDATE: Dunn got the nod as an AL reserve.
4. Alex Rios, Outfield
Before dismissing Rios, you have to concede that this would not be ridiculous the way Rios has performed so far in 2012.
Rios is batting .306 with 10 homers. He has scored 43 runs, knocked in 41, stolen 13 bases and has been solid in right field.
With the exception of the home run numbers, the above stats hover around the top 10 outfielders in the AL. His average is fourth among AL outfielders with enough at-bats to qualify.
It might be a stretch to say Rios will suit up for the American League, but it won't be because he's underperforming.
5. Alejandro De Aza, Outfield
De Aza's name likely won't be called Sunday, but he has had a terrific first half.
He has been a difference maker at the top of the order, hitting .295. That's good for sixth among qualifying AL outfielders. His offensive numbers are solid, having scored 51 runs (tied for sixth in the AL).
His fielding percentage (.995) and range factor (2.51) make him one of the AL's best defensive outfielders.
6. Jake Peavy, RHP
Despite just a 6-5 mark, Peavy has been one of the league's best arms in the first half with a 2.96 ERA. He has been plagued by poor run support in several starts, but he has pitched deep into games, including eight innings in a 4-0 loss at New York Saturday.
Chicago has scored just two runs in Peavy's last four starts, each of which saw him take the loss.
UPDATE: White Sox fans have a chance to select Peavy to the team via the MLB's Final Vote this week.
7. Chris Sale, LHP
Sale likely won't be pitching July 10 as he is scheduled to throw in the White Sox last game before the All-Star break. Otherwise it wouldn't surprise me if Sale had been named the AL starting pitcher.
9-2 with an American League-leading 2.27 ERA, Sale has more than met expectations with his move to the Chicago rotation.
UPDATE: Sale was included on the American League pitching staff, making him an All-Star for the first time.