1. Chris Sale
If you believe FanGraph’s WAR, Chris Sale has been the 2nd best pitcher in the AL. If FIP (Field Independant Pitching) is your thing, he is #1. He is also 8-2, 5th in the AL in K/9 and he is #1 in ERA. There is literally a 100% chance that he makes the AL All-Star Team. He is also on the short list (along with Justin Verlander and Jered Weaver) to start the mid-summer classic. If he stays healthy the White Sox have their ace for the next five years.
2. Paul Konerko
PK is 2nd and about 300,000 votes behind Prince Fielder after the most recent update in voting for the AL team. This is the classic case of name recognition winning out, since Fielder is not having a better season than Konerko. You could even make the case for Edwin Encarnacion who is already just 5 homers short of his career high. If wOBA is your thing, and it should be, Konerko has been 2nd only to Josh Hamilton as far as “best hitter in the AL” goes. Konerko being the veteran, and presumably well respected, stands an awfully good chance to make his 6th All-Star game (3rd in a row). Jose Bautista has crept into the top 3 amongst AL outfielders and would negate the need to take Encarnacion as the lone Blue Jays representative (although I think both will ultimately make it). I think Konerko is in really good shape and would be a massive snub if he was left off.
3. Jake Peavy
No slouch himself, he is 4th in FIP, 3rd in WAR and 7th in ERA. Unfortunately he doesn’t rank in the top 10 in K/9 and is merely 6-4 thanks to atrocious run support, something which doesn’t bode well in some people’s eyes. If nothing changes between now and selection day, Sale, Weaver, Verlander, Jason Hammel and David Price seem like locks. Presumably Oakland only gets one guy in, and unless Josh Reddick and his 17 HRs pull it off, Brandon McCarthy probably makes it too. Felix Hernandez’s 5-5 record looks bad, but it doesn’t seem like there are any other options in Seattle. And we haven’t even mentioned Yu Darvish or C.J. Wilson. Peavy probably won’t get another start in before the team’s are selected, so he will likely need some help.
4. AJ Pierzynski
AJ is currently 4th in voting and ranks behind at least one more deserving guy. Joe Mauer is healthy and looking like his old self. He is currently leading the AL in OBP (and is 4th in batting average if that’s your thing). Mauer is an absolute lock to make this team, and if was the leading vote getter, AJ would have a shot. But that honor belongs to Mike Napoli, who rode a big playoff run into a massive lead in votes. Napoli has been about the same statistically as AJ, so it’s not that crazy that he would make it ahead of him anyway. It makes sense for the team to have three catchers, so that’s AJ still has a chance. His stiffest competition seems to be Matt Wieters from Baltimore. The young gun is coming into his own and is about the same statistically as Napoli and AJ. He has also been one of, if not the best defensive catchers this season. Plus he has cachè. AJ will need help, but it’s possible.
5. Adam Dunn
Dunn is in a really tough spot. David Ortiz appears to have the voting on lockdown, and he is more than deserving. Dunn is right near the top in home runs, but hasn’t done much beyond that. Edwin Encarnacion has split time between 1B and DH, and Kansas City’s Billy Butler hasn’t been bad at DH (although I think closer Johnathan Broxton will be the Royals only guy). I can see Dunn being one of those guys who gets put on the final ballot, so he has a shot.
6. Alejandro De Aza
I couldn’t leave De Aza off because he has been so important to the White Sox, but he doesn’t have a shot. Hamilton, Curtis Granderson and Jose Bautista are leading the votes1 and only Hamilton is 100% deserving. Bautista has hit a lot of home runs and hasn’t been a slouch, but there are so many deserving outfielders. This is another reason Dunn will have a tough time. Superstar in the making Mike Trout has played too well to be left off, unless it’s for his teammate Mike Trumbo (I can see them both making it). Adam Jones has to make it after the big start he had, which leaves (probably) two spots. As I mentioned earlier, Josh Reddick could sneak in as the only A’s player if McCarthy doesn’t make it. I still think Broxton represents the Royals, so that rules out Alex Gordon. Austin Jackson could also be in the hunt. Regardless, De Aza would need 5 guys to drop out to have a shot.
Sale and Konerko should be no brainers. Jake Peavy has a shot, and could be helped by an injury or two. AJ will need his tenure to be a tiebreaker between him and Weiters, but in the end I don’t think he makes it. Dunn could sneak on the final ballot, but he probably doesn’t really deserve it. I think when it’s all said and done, the White Sox will have 3 representatives, Sale, Konerko and one of the Peavy/AJ/Dunn trio.
- That’s the same three who started last year by the way [↩]