The Midsummer Classic will be played in Cleveland, but it might have a distinct South Side flavor.
Baseball released an All-Star balloting update Monday, showing that three White Sox position players ranked in the top four in voting for their respective positions: James McCann ranked second at catcher, Jose Abreu ranked third at first base, and Tim Anderson ranked fourth at shortstop. Yoan Moncada was eighth among American League third basemen.
As far as the end goal of the White Sox rebuilding effort goes, it's ultimately meaningless how many of their players make the All-Star team. There's no rule tying All-Star representation to one's ability to win the World Series. But having numerous guys in contention to make the team - even if they don't win starting spots, McCann, Abreu, Anderson and Moncada would still have strong cases to make the AL roster - is a nice sign of rebuilding progress.
It's another example that the rebuilding project is moving in the direction the White Sox want it to. All these position players plus Lucas Giolito, who's pitching as well as anyone in the game, and even closer Alex Colome are having All-Star kinds of seasons. Those guys are all part of the team's plans past the 2019 season (Abreu, who is set to become a free agent at the end of the year, sure sounds like he's part of those plans, anyway), which means that All-Star consideration is not just a nice nod that things are going well this season but an indication that 2020 could see the White Sox contention window start to open.
"It's indicative of more the process moving forward," general manager Rick Hahn said Monday. "Right now, Tim is fourth for shortstops. I'm biased. I think he should be higher on that list. Moncada should be much higher on the list than he is.
"I don't know how much notice other people necessarily are taking, but I do see All-Star caliber seasons out of young players that we drafted and developed, like Tim Anderson, or we traded for, like Moncada and Giolito, or even free agents we signed, like James McCann. That's all positive signs for this process moving forward."
Much like Anderson didn't concern himself with leading the AL in batting average earlier this season or his chances of being named AL Player of the Month for April, he similarly brushed aside the early results of All-Star voting. Unsurprisingly, the guy who owes much of his current success to the work he's put in over the years wants to keep focusing on said work. But he couldn't deny how nice a trip to the All-Star Game would be.
"I don't care about that," he said. "We'll see what the results are. I only can control what I can control, keep going and keep having fun.
"It'd be a good thing to have under my belt. Why not? But I don't need that to approve of me being a great player. I'm just going to keep working and keep having fun with it."
Anderson's received plenty of nationwide attention this season already after he was at the center of the bat-flipping brouhaha with the Kansas City Royals. He doesn't necessarily need any more of it. But he's hoping his teammates get some, which would in turn shine a spotlight on the progress that's happening on the South Side.
"Those guys deserve it," he said. "A lot of people sleep on this organization. But we're going to keep working and keep bringing attention to us, keep having fun. It means we're doing something good if they're paying attention to us."
The chances the White Sox land multiple guys in the All-Star Game actually seem pretty good at the moment. Giolito figures to be a shoo-in if he continues pitching like one of the three or four best pitchers in the American League. McCann and Abreu could benefit from playing positions without a ton of competition. Anderson would be a great inclusion as at least baseball's marketing department seems to want to "let the kids play." Moncada and Colome are certainly worthy of consideration.
If it's a large White Sox contingent, that'll be a mighty good sign for the direction this franchise is heading. If there isn't that much representation, well, the White Sox get to go to Cleveland plenty, right?
"Yeah," Anderson said, "but one more trip won't hurt."