BOSTON, MA - JULY 9: Chris Sale #49 of the Chicago White Sox pitches against the Boston Red Sox in the first inning at Fenway Park on July 9, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
The Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox may not have had many reasons for optimism so far this season, but they both won a small victory on Thursday as Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo and White Sox pitcher Chris Sale were both named the winners of MLB's Final Vote contest.
Both Rizzo and Sale will be the third players from their teams to be named to the All-Star Game this year, with Starlin Castro and Jeff Samardzija representing the Cubs and Jose Abreu and Alexei Ramirez representing the Sox.
The game, which will take place at Minnesota's Target Field next week, will be the first All-Star Game appearance for Rizzo, while Sale will be heading to his third consecutive All-Star Game.
The Cubs, who won a tough extra-innings affair against the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday afternoon, were understandably excited about Rizzo's inclusion:
Big cheer in #Cubs clubhouse. Rizzo is an All Star
— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) July 10, 2014
Sale is the fourth White Sox player to win the Final Vote for the All-Star Game, joining Scott Podsednik (2005), AJ Pierzynski (2006), and Paul Konerko (2011). Rizzo is the first Cub to ever win the distinction. Aramis Ramirez (2004) and Carlos Zambrano (2007) are the only other Cubs to have been nominated for the award, which was instituted for the 2002 game in Milwaukee.
Sale missed several starts due to injury this season, but he’s still putting up some very good numbers. In 14 starts this season, the hurler has an 8-1 record for the White Sox, posting a 2.08 ERA and a league-best WHIP of 0.84. He also is averaging nearly 10 strikeouts per nine innings, and his strikeout-to-walk ratio of 6.38 is a career high.
Meanwhile, Rizzo is bouncing back in a big way for the Cubs after having a lackluster season in 2013. So far this year, Rizzo has 20 home runs and 49 RBI for the Cubs, batting .280 and racking up a healthy .899 OBP. He is also walking more often, with 52 free passes, and he’s striking out less, with 71 strikeouts. His home run total is tied for second in the National League, just one behind Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton, and his OPS is second among NL first basemen, trailing only Paul Goldschmidt of the Arizona Diamondbacks.