Chicago's 2014 All-Stars: Abreu, Alexei, Sale, Castro, Rizzo, and Samardzija

Chicago’s 2014 All-Stars: Abreu, Alexei, Sale, Castro, Rizzo, and Samardzija

Despite struggling through subpar seasons again, our hometown baseball squads have impressively doubled their combined All-Star output for 2014.  The studs at shortstop, first base, and atop the rotation from both sides of town make their way to Minnesota this week.

Chris Sale. Photo Source: Mark L. Baer/USA TODAY Sports

Chris Sale. Photo: Mark L. Baer/USA TODAY Sports

Chris Sale

Position: Starting Pitcher  
Age: 25

Chris Sale, ace of the White Sox, is an All-Star veteran now, appearing in his third straight game after getting the win in last year’s game.  But this year he’s at his most dominant yet, leading the AL with a 2.08 ERA and posting ridiculous splits of 106 strikeouts to 16 walks in 95 innings.  When he takes the mound, it seems to be a question of not how many runs the opponent will score, but if they will at all.  He easily beat out Dallas Keuchel, Rick Porcello, Garrett Richards, and Corey Kluber in the fan vote for the final spot on the AL roster. 

3rd All-Star Game (2012, 2013) 

 

Jeff Samardzija.  Photo Source: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Jeff Samardzija. Photo: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Jeff Samardzija

Position: Starting Pitcher  
Age: 29

Jeff Samardzija is immediately one of the AL’s best starting pitchers, but he’s technically supporting the other side on Tuesday.  He was announced an NL All-Star from the Cubs right before being traded to Oakland, making him ineligible to play in the game.  He posted a 2.83 ERA with 103 strikeouts in 17 Cubs starts this year and has pitched even better in his first two A’s starts.       

1st All-Star Game

Alexei Ramirez. Photo Source: Scott Strazzante/Chicago Tribune

Alexei Ramirez. Photo: Scott Strazzante/Chicago Tribune

Alexei Ramirez

Position: Shortstop  
Age: 32

Alexei has been underrated his entire career; it’s about time the veteran Cuban is recognized for his consistent play.  An early season tear propelled him into All-Star talk, but unfortunately Derek Jeter’s final season means Ramirez won’t get to start, fair or not. Ramirez (.282 avg, 41 RBIs, 15 steals) leads AL shortstops in hits (103) and has the second-highest Wins Above Replacement (WAR) at the position in the league according to ESPN.     

1st All-Star Game

Starlin Castro. Photo: E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune

Starlin Castro. Photo: E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune

Starlin Castro

Position: Shortstop  
Age: 24

Castro and Hanley Ramirez have been baseball’s most potent non-Troy Tulowitzki shortstops this year, a welcome sight for a Cubs front office hoping to build around Castro.  His bounceback campaign (.276 avg, 11 HR, 52 RBIs) has been credited to new manager Rick Renteria after a massive 2013 disappointment.   

3rd All-Star Game (2011, 2012)

Jose Abreu. Photo: Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports

Jose Abreu. Photo: Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports

Jose Abreu

Position: First Baseman  
Age: 26

Leading the AL in home runs with 29, Abreu nailed his first half in the bigs with flying colors.  Making adjustments on the fly has helped this masher stay hot all year, marking a major free agent steal for the budget-savvy White Sox.  He turned down an invite to the Home Run Derby, but at least he’ll get to represent his league in the Midsummer Classic.

1st All-Star Game

Anthony Rizzo. Photo: Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune

Anthony Rizzo. Photo: Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune

Anthony Rizzo

Position: First Baseman  
Age: 24

Leading NL first basemen in home runs with 20, Rizzo also earned his bid through the Final Vote, where 8.8 million votes cast last week help him edge out Justin Morneau, Justin Upton, Anthony Rendon, and Casey McGehee.  The slugging first basemen has been among the most dangerous run producers in the league all year–and he’s 24.     

1st All-Star Game

First is tonight’s Home Run Derby.  With no Abreu, Chicago has no players to root for, although if you want a stretch, A’s third baseman Josh Donaldson was originally drafted by the Cubs as a catcher in 2007.  The last Chicago player involved was the Sox’ Jermaine Dye in 2006.

Tuesday night’s All-Star Game begins with lineup introduction at 6:30 PM Central Time.  This year’s takes place in Minnesota for the first time since 1985, following MLB’s trend of awarding the Midsummer Classic to franchises with new ballparks.  The Twins’ Target Field is a dense, urban stadium that should prove an excellent venue to showcase the game’s best.

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 Photo Source: E. Jason Wambsgans
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