Ranking Chicago Cubs' Best All-Star Game Candidates
Even though the Cubs are 11 games under .500 this season, they still have a few deserving All-Stars. Both on the mound and at the plate, the team has had players step up, and those players should be playing in Minnesota this July.
At this point, it doesn't look like any Cubs position players are going to be voted in as a starter, but there are still a couple that could be added to the roster as reserves.
There are actually no Cubs position players in the top five of fan voting, but that doesn't mean they won't have any suit up for the National League this summer. Based on how they stack up against the rest of the league, here are the Cubs' five best All-Star candidates.
5. LHP James Russell
James Russell has been one of the most reliable relievers in the Cubs' bullpen this season, posting a 2.05 ERA and allowing just a .173 opponents batting average. He hasn't been used as much this season with the addition of fellow lefty Wesley Wright, but this may be his most impressive season yet.
It's tricky business getting into the All-Star Game as a reliever if you're not a closer, but Russell is deserving. Russell making the team is a long shot, but his stats should tell the National League coaching staff he deserves the nod.
4. SS Starlin Castro
Going back to a simpler approach, Starlin Castro has gotten back to his old hitting ways. He's batting .287 with 11 home runs and 47 RBI, which puts him on pace for his best power production in his career. On top of that, he's hovering around a .290 average, which is what Cubs fans have grown accustomed to seeing over the years.
Shortstop is one of the harder positions to get into the All-Star Game as, given that Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is a shoe-in to start. Like a couple other players on the Cubs' roster, Castro could still be included on the roster if the National League coaching staff feels he's deserving of a spot.
3. RHP Jason Hammel
Jason Hammel has been overshadowed by Cubs' ace Jeff Samardzija, but he's been nearly as good all season long. He will be the top second-tier pitcher on the trade market this July, and some team is going to get a high quality starter. The righty is 6-5 with a 2.99 ERA this season and has been a consistent force for an otherwise inconsistent team.
Since he's not the ace of his staff, there's a good chance Hammel will be left off the roster, but he's as deserving as several aces on other teams around the National League.
Unfortunately, his lack of notoriety as a big name may leave him off the roster, but his numbers speak for themselves. Hammel should be included on the All-Star roster regardless.
2. 1B Anthony Rizzo
Cubs fans have been waiting for it, and Anthony Rizzo has finally broken through this season. He's combined his power and average in order to produce an extremely solid first half. His .291 batting average, 17 home runs and 44 RBI put him on pace to belt 36 home runs and drive in 94 RBI. Those are the numbers of an All-Star.
Rizzo is realizing his potential this season and he deserves to showcase that talent at Target Field in July. With his power and average finally coming together, Rizzo is putting the league on notice that he is one of the better left-handed power hitters in the game.
With that said, the National League coaching staff better take a long hard look at Rizzo as a reserve.
1. RHP Jeff Samardzija
The Cubs' ace is the only player on the team that appears to be a sure thing for the All-Star Game as he was dominant at the beginning of this season. Minus a couple rough starts, Samardzija has been consistently good all season long and an all-star appearance could be the final great achievement in his Cubs career.
"Shark" is just 2-6 despite posting a 2.53 ERA this season while striking out 97 batters over 103 innings. He's the one Cub who fits the mold of a sure fire all-star as he has the name recognition mixed with the dominant stuff to gain recognition. If there's one Cub to bet on making the All-Star Game, Samardzija is definitely the guy.