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Which White Sox Players Deserve to be All-Stars?

by Adam Kaplan

Fan voting for the 2022 MLB All-Star starters has begun. The early vote leaders have been released, and as of now, the White Sox are not leading the vote at any position:

Even though the South Siders don’t have a voting leader at the moment, they do have a handful of candidates that deserve recognition. Let’s break down those players and predict their chances of playing in Los Angeles.


Tim Anderson

Toronto’s Bo Bichette is currently leading the American League shortstops in fan voting, but as of now, Anderson would move to the second round in voting.

For the longest time, Tim Anderson’s All-Star chances were unassailable, as he not only was the best shortstop in the American League but in all of baseball.

Then, Anderson got injured. He spent weeks on the IL and hasn’t been lighting it up since his return. As such, the notion that TA “deserves” to be an All-Star has dwindled. Now, among AL SS, Anderson is third in wRC+, second in OPS+, and fourth in fWAR.

That being said, Sox fans should still feel good about his All-Star chances. Between appearing in national commercials and performing well on the highest stages, TA has become a star. That probably shouldn’t matter, but it likely does – it may give him that little boost during a tight competition. Ultimately, Boston’s Xander Bogaerts and TA should represent the AL at shortstop. The one who starts will be up to the fans.

Will He be an All-Star?: Yes


Andrew Vaughn

Andrew Vaughn’s All-Star candidacy is well-documented, as he continues to get better in his second season. However, like TA, Andrew Vaughn has been in a mini-slump of late. Last week, Vaughn had a wRC+ of 156, which was fifth among AL OF and best among AL left fielders (if you considered Houston’s Yordan Alvarez a DH). Vaughn currently sits at a 137 wRC+ with his mini-slump, which is still sixth among AL outfielders. That being said, players go through ebbs and flows, and Vaughn is current in an ebb. That’s just baseball, and that shouldn’t necessarily hurt his All-Star chances. However, considering Vaughn is a borderline candidate to begin with, he needs to improve his offensive game come selection time of the reserve players.

There are a handful of other factors working against Andrew Vaughn. For starters, his defense. It’s no surprise that Vaughn is a poor defender. That shouldn’t necessarily hurt him considering how much emphasis the All-Star Game has placed on offense, but it does hurt his WAR. Despite Vaughn being an offensive juggernaut, he’s 23rd in fWAR among qualified AL outfielders. Looking at WAR is a legitimate argument when determining All-Stars, and Vaughn takes a huge hit when viewing his candidacy through this perspective.

Additionally, the rule that every team must have at least one All-Star will hurt Vaughn’s chances. I think this most notably affects Vaughn as it relates to Kansas City’s Andrew Benintendi. The struggling AL Central foe will most likely only send one representative to the game, and unless their rookie sensation Bobby Witt Jr. gets the nods (he’s currently sixth among AL 3B in fWAR), the Royals’ selection will most likely be Benintendi. That’s one less OF spot for Vaughn.

In 2021, the AL had five official outfielders (plus Angel’s 1B Jared Walsh who played OF in the game) and three designated hitters. If Houston Astros and AL All-Star manager Dusty Baker decides to go that route again, the selections could very well be Aaron Judge (NYY), Mike Trout (LAA), Byron Buxton (MIN), Andrew Benintendi (KC), Yordan Alvarez (HOU), and J.D. Martinez (BOS). In this case, Vaughn then has to fight for that last spot against some of Baker’s own players like Michael Brantley and Kyle Tucker, plus other players like Giancarlo Stanton (NYY), Adolis Garcia (TEX), Julio Rodriguez (SEA), and George Springer (TOR). That’s a tough uphill battle it’s unclear if Vaughn will be able to climb.

Will He be an All-Star?: No, but deserving


Dylan Cease

As of this writing, among starting pitchers in the AL, Dylan Cease is fourth in fWAR, second in strikeouts, and first in K/9. These statistics alone mean that Cease is clearly worthy of an All-Star selection.

However, even Dylan Cease has a handful of factors working against him. Mainly, Cease is seventh in the AL in ERA. That’s pretty good, but an old-school manager like Dusty Baker might not think that’s good enough. By the All-Star Game in 2021, Lance Lynn and Carlos Rodón had the best and third-best ERAs, respectively, in the AL.

Additionally, the “Every Team Must Have an All-Star Rule” also slightly dings Cease. The Tigers, A’s, and Rangers’ sole selection will most likely be Tarik Skubal, Paul Blackburn, and Martin Perez, respectively. That’s three fewer chances Cease will earn a selection. Plus, the Sox righty will have to compete against Shane McClanahan (TB), Kevin Gausman (TOR), Gerrit Cole (NYY), Nestor Cortes Jr. (NYY), Justin Verlander (HOU), and Shane Bieber (CLE), plus all of the relievers the AL will select. Based on this, Cease’s selection is far from guaranteed.

On the flip side, a handful of pitchers will drop out before the actual game. Players who start a day or two before the All-Star Game will bow out.

All of that being said, Dylan Cease is currently in the conversation to win the AL Cy Young. Unless Cease implodes or gets injured between now and the All-Star Game, he will be one of the pitchers Dusty Baker initially selects.

Will He be an All-Star?: Yes


José Abreu

After getting off to a somewhat slow start, MVPito is having another MVPito-type season. He’s slashing .267/.365/.431, good for a wRC+ of 133. Currently, Abreu is tied for third among AL first basemen in fWAR.

However, there are a handful of factors working against José Abreu that likely ultimately leaves him out of the All-Star Game. First, there are four other first basemen in the AL who have a wRC+ better than Abreu. Second, among AL 1B, Abreu ranks eighth in HR and RBIs. Whether rightly or wrongly, you need to be a run producer in order to go to the All-Star Game as a first baseman, and Abreu hasn’t really been that so far this season. José Abreu is really good, but he’s not quite an All-Star this year.

Will He be an All-Star?: No


Liam Hendriks

Despite not appearing in a game since June 10th, Liam Hendriks is still second in the AL in saves (16), which is one behind the league leaders, and fourth among AL relievers in K/9. Hendriks is currently on the IL with forearm tightness, and he is scheduled to come back on July 1. However, if he does come back on or around then, and pitches the way he did pre-injury, he has a real shot at making the All-Star Game.

Liam Hendriks was the closer for the American League in 2021 and is widely regarded as the best closer in the AL. It’s likely that Dusty Baker feels the same, and he’s the one ultimately in charge of the All-Star pitcher selections.

Will He be an All-Star?: Yes, but only if he’s healthy


Conclusion

Shoutouts are due to Luis Robert, Michael Kopech, and Johnny Cueto who are all having very good seasons in their own right. However, for one reason or another, it’s not likely they will be All-Stars.

As of this writing, the White Sox’ All-Stars will likely be Tim Anderson, Dylan Cease, and Liam Hendriks. Andrew Vaughn and José Abreu can make legitimate arguments to be in the hunt, but unless other players drop out, it’s not likely they become All-Stars.

Make sure you’re voting for the White Sox to start the All-Star Game at MLB.com at this link!


Featured photo: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

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mellowjohn

Watched Liam throw a side session before Saturday’s game. He looked pretty good.

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