CHICAGO -- The three Chicago White Sox All-Star Game candidates likely know their fate by now, but the official word on who will be going to the July 15 contest at Minnesota won’t be revealed until 6 p.m. CT.
Jose Abreu, Chris Sale and Alexei Ramirez all stand a solid chance of receiving baseball’s highest midseason honor. If any of the three isn't selected, there also is the five-man final vote, which the White Sox have been successful with in the past to get players like Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski on the American League squad.
Abreu figures to be the sure bet for All-Star Game inclusion. He started Sunday tied with the Orioles’ Nelson Cruz for the most home runs in MLB at 27, and his 69 RBIs were one back of the major league lead. Abreu easily leads MLB with a .621 slugging percentage.
The decisions on Sale and Ramirez aren’t as clear cut.
Sale’s dominance can’t be argued with an 8-1 record and a 2.16 ERA, but he has pitched just 87 1/3 innings after missing a month with a strained left forearm muscle.
He doesn’t have enough innings yet to qualify for the ERA title. If he did, Sale would be second in the American League to the Seattle Mariners’ Felix Hernandez, who has a 2.11 mark. Hernandez not only is expected to make the AL squad, he is the solid candidate to start the game, along with the Toronto Blue Jays’ Mark Buehrle.
About a month ago, Ramirez looked like a lock for All-Star Game inclusion, but he has cooled off considerably of late. Since the start of June, Ramirez is batting .215 with a .246 on-base percentage, far under his season totals of .288 and .320. He had .329 and .361 marks on the last day of May.
It’s possible that Sale ends up getting voted into the game by the players and Ramirez ends up on the final fan ballot.
White Sox manager Robin Ventura was a two-time All-Star (1992, 2002) and considers a spot in the contest to be among the ultimate honors, especially for potential first-timers like Abreu and Ramirez.
“That’s always special to go, just be part of it,” Ventura said. “You are considered one of the better players in the game, and you get to represent your team, your city. You are playing against that kind of competition. Hopefully we get a few guys who get that call.”