If you were so inclined, you could argue that the Crosstown Classic has been going on for longer than the Cubs championship drought. In the 1906 World Series the White Sox and Cubs squared off for the city bragging rights to go along with a major league championship. The Sox would win that battle, 4 games to 2. And that was that. The two Chicago teams didn’t play another game that counted for 90 years.
Now, of course, the two teams play 6 times a year. A bit much, by my call, but I don’t make the schedules, I just watch the games. Being in Chicago, I have plenty of exposure to both teams, even outside of the head to head matchups. And though it doesn’t make me qualified to do so, I thought it would be fun to create an All-Chicago baseball team for 2012:
Hats off to the year that Bryan Lahair is having, but with each game that passes, he is defying the odds of regression. Also, Paul Konerko isn’t exactly putting out a clunker either. Heading into the series, Lahair is at .330/.422/.670 to Paulie’s .362/.447/.580. Sorry Cubs fans, I know you’re excited for Lahair, but the nod goes to Paul Konerko.
This list isn’t based on promise, or what a player should have been, and defense can’t carry too much weight either. Though he’s not striking any fear into the hearts of opposition the second baseman for the 2012 All-Chicago team is Darwin Barney. I love Gordon Beckham, but maybe once he gets over that .200 mark to stay we can talk about being included.
Again, a White Sox player that is high on my list. In fact, Alexei is the player on the Sox I most like to watch on a daily basis. The things he does at shortstop should not go underappreciated. The things he’s been doing at the plate are best forgotten. On the northside, Starlin Castro is much the opposite; while you’d like to forget his work in the field, watching him hit is a treat. Our city’s shortstop for 2012 is Starlin Castro.
Everybody else may hate him, but White Sox fans love him, and it has more to do with his play on the field than the whole “AJ attitude”. A.J. Pierzynski continues to put up solid numbers year after year, so far in 2012 posting a .299/.338/.465 line with 5 HR. On the other end Geo Soto is serving as a performance arc role model to Gordon Beckham. Start that career out strong and then spend the remainder of your days trying in futility to live up to promise. A.J. Pierzynski it is.
Alfonso Soriano and Dayan Viciedo are both guys thought of as homerun hitters that are not so great in the field. Soriano only just found his 2012 power stroke in the last couple of games, he’s got 2 dingers. Viciedo has also recently picked it up, but wasn’t struggling so mightily with it leading up to mid-May. He’s got 6. Viciedo has also surprisingly been…not so terrible in left, matching Soriano’s surprisingly less than brutal performance in the field this year. Youth, performance to date, and likelihood to maintain or improve throughout 2012 gets the win here, though. Dayan Viciedo in left field.
Alejandro De Aza has been getting a lot of extra credit from me for not being Juan Pierre. It’s nice to have a lead off guy that’s an occasional power threat, that isn’t completely noodle armed, that isn’t champing at the bit to get picked off immediately after reaching base. He’s done a pretty fine job at the plate hitting .286/.369/.435 and though he’s had some very questionable moments in center, overall he covers ground and makes catches. The Cubs having traded Marlon Byrd away are featuring Tony Campana in center most of the time. People love high socks and speed, and much of the time it makes them want the player to be better than he is. Campana is even riding a hot streak right now, batting .315/.359/.370 in 85 at-bats. Aside from that batting average getting ready to drop, he’s got no peripherals to accompany it. He can’t be our centerfielder, Alejandro De Aza is.
In 2011, Alex Rios was the most useless batter in the entire league. No, really, I mean that, the least effective of all everyday position players. And Sox fans, I don’t have to remind you that it was every day. He was awful. In 2012 he’s been much better, but relativity is a deceptive beast. He’s still not doing all that great. Meanwhile David DeJesus has proven to be a quality pickup for the Cubs. Both are playing right field well, having CF experience, but the nod has to go to DeJesus. And forgive me if I’m misquoting, but Nobody effs with DeJesus.
Let’s just put together 5 starters and skip the bullpens because, well, bullpens depress me a little bit. Both aces are obviously on the team. Jake Peavy has, most recent start excepted, been looking a lot like his former Cy Young self. Ryan Dempster has had an amazing year so far, but he doesn’t know how to win. Poor guy is 0-1. I’d be glad to listen to your arguments about how pitcher’s wins mean anything about the individual if you’ve got them. Rounding it out: Chris Sale, Matt Garza and…I never thought I’d include him on any list that could be construed as complimentary but Jeff Samardzija. Those are the 5 pitchers having the best seasons of the bunch thus far, those are the 5 pitchers that shall represent Chicago (not really, I have no power or influence, this list is for fun).
Lots of baseball left, and it begins with 3 at Wrigley between Chicago’s teams. Enjoy!