Its that time of year. The Crosstown Classic, the most exciting time of the baseball season. Okay, not exactly, but its fun to watch the rivals play against each other. However, both teams have struggled this season, with the White Sox posting only a slightly better record than the Cubs. Despite the struggles, both teams have had players that have stood out at their respective positions. So, without further ado, here are your top players, position by position, of this year’s Crosstown Classic.
Catcher: Welington Castillo, Cubs
This is a tough one, as neither of the starting catchers have performed well this season. Castillo has shown flashes of why the Cubs made him the starting catcher this season, but has struggled a lot as well, striking out 38 times while walking only three times. That stat can only be described as terrifying. However, Tyler Flowers has been even worse. He has fanned 40 times and is putting up a slash of just .202/.269/.345. He was supposed to provide power from the bottom of the order, but he has only homered four times and has driven in just 12 runs. Castillo is hitting .279, but most of those hits have been singles. Regardless, Castillo gets the edge as he has been both the better offensive and defensive catcher between the two.
First Base: Anthony Rizzo, Cubs
Yes, Paul Konerko is the face of the White Sox. But that face is dwindling. Konerko has been hitting nowhere near as well as he has in the past, posting just a .236 batting average, homering just five times, and collecting only 19 RBI. This has been far from a Paul Konerko type season. Rizzo, on the hand, is both similar and different from Konerko in terms of what he is thought of. Rizzo is the current face of the Cubs and is expected to be for a good while, while Konerko’s time as the face, as I stated earlier, is running low. Rizzo has not put up spectacular numbers for the Cubs, but is avoiding a sophomore slump. Although he is struggling right now, Rizzo has still done well enough to raise his average up to .261, an accomplishment considering it was about thirty points lower only three weeks ago. He also leads the team in Home Runs (10) and RBI (32), and consistently hits out of the three hole in the lineup.
Second Base: Jeff Keppinger, White Sox
Someone who hasn’t benefited from a change of scenery is Jeff Keppinger. He has been hot as of late, but is still only hitting .218 with one Home Run. His breakout season in Tampa Bay last season seems like a thing of the past. However, Darwin Barney has been equally as bad. He continues to play great defense at second base, and is coming off of a Gold Glove season. He seems to still be recovering from an early season injury, and has hit only .207. A positive for him at the plate has been that he has more walks (13) than strikeouts (12).
Shortstop: Alexei Ramirez, White Sox
Starlin Castro is another face of the Cubs, but hasn’t had a great start to the season. He is hitting just .270 with just three Home Runs. He has also committed a team high seven errors, and it is clear he still has a lot of room to develop in the field. On the contrary, Ramirez, who has always been sharp with the glove, has had another strong season in the field, making a bevy of highlight plays. Ramirez hasn’t shown much pop at the plate, homering only once, but has hit .280, with an OPS at .679, dragged down because of that lack of power. Ramirez’s all around game gives him the advantage on Castro.
Third Baseman: Conor Gillaspie, White Sox
Luis Valbuena and Gillaspie have had similar seasons, but Gillaspie has exceeded expectations to a bigger extent than Valbuena has. Gillaspie has yet to reach double digits in RBI’s, but has more than serviceable, hitting .298, much higher than Valbuena’s .250. While Valbuena has more Home Runs (5), and RBI (15), Gillaspie’s all around hitting gives him a very slight edge.
Left Field: Dayan Viciedo, White Sox
Even though he has spent time on the Disabled List, Viciedo has still put up very good numbers for the White Sox in the 28 games he has played in. He is fourth on the team with a .276 Batting Average, but has only homered four times. Viciedo is expected to hit at least 20 Home Runs, so he will need to pick up the pace to get to that mark. Alfonso Soriano is still not earning that money for the Cubs. He has homered only four times, which is less than players such as Valbuena, David DeJesus, and Nate Schierholtz, all of who have significantly less power than Soriano. He isn’t making up for that power, hitting only .262, which is why he is the inferior Chicago Left Fielder.
Center Field: David DeJesus, Cubs
One of the most reliable players year after year on the Cubs, this season is no different for DeJesus. He is currently hitting .287 with five Home Runs, and has a very impressive strikeout to walk ratio (23:15). He is also second on the team with 13 doubles and leads all Cubs starters in OPS. Alejandro De Aza, who, much like DeJesus, is his team’s leadoff hitter, has shown more pop than DeJesus, but is only hitting .243. He has also fanned 51 times, second to only Adam Dunn, who is the strikeout king.
Right Field: Alex Rios, White Sox
The Cubs Nate Schierholtz/Scott Hairston platoon has not put up even close to the numbers that Rios has. Schierholtz is having a nice comeback season, batting .281, but Scott Hairston is putting up Ian Stewart type numbers, hitting just .138. Rios has been the White Sox best hitter, homering ten times and posting a .297 batting average, and is coming off a very good 2012 campaign. His eight stolen bases also put him in a tie with Alexei Ramirez for the most on the team.
Utility: Adam Dunn, White Sox
While Dunn is far from a utility player, he is in here because of my decision to leave out the Designated Hitter. Dunn is playing like typical Adam Dunn, homering a lot, striking out, and hitting for a low batting average. Dunn is hitting a historically low .156, but has 11 Home Runs, the most on either Chicago team. He has also fanned 62 times and walked 19 times, both leading the team.
Utility: Dioner Navarro, Cubs
The backup catcher, Navarro has been great while pinch hitting, but has struggled in his starts. I put him here because both teams have very weak benches. Navarro has been a bright spot at times, homering three times, including one that tied the game in the bottom of the 9th. His average being at .200 is the reason why he does not start more often, and it is becoming clearer and clearer that Navarro will be out of Chicago by the end of the season.
1. Chris Sale, White Sox
The young phenom has been great again for the White Sox. He leads the team with a 2.53 ERA and has won five games. His best start came only a couple of weeks ago, when he threw a one hit complete game shutout against the Angels.
2. Travis Wood, Cubs
Acquired in the Sean Marshall trade two offseason’s ago, Wood is finally living up to the hype he earned while pitching for Cincinnati. Travis is putting together an All Star like season, leading the team in Wins (4), and ERA (2.73). He just had his streak of nine straight quality starts to start the season snapped today against the Reds.
3. Jake Peavy, White Sox
The former Cy Young winner has been almost as good as Sale, and performed phenomenal against the Marlins today. That said, it is the Marlins. Six of Peavy’s nine starts have been quality starts and his ERA is at 2.97, while is WHIP is at a very good 1.04.
4. Scott Feldman, Cubs
If you erase his start yesterday against the Reds, Feldman may be the number one starter on this team. Seriously, he has been that good. Even with that rough start, his ERA is still at 2.80, not much worse than Wood’s. The majority of his starts have been quality ones, and he has been quite good at the plate, homering and doubling in his last two starts.
5. Jeff Samardzija, Cubs
Barely making this list over White Sox starters Jose Quintana and Hector Santiago, Samardzija is starting to pitch more and more like the ace the Cubs need him to be. He has put together a nice couple of starts recently, and his ERA currently stands at 3.25. His win-loss record (2-6) is a perfect example of why it is such an overrated stat.
Closer: Addison Reed, White Sox
Reed makes this list over Kevin Gregg because he has had more appearances this year, and has the better track record. Addison has been great, saving 16 games and posting just a 2.05 ERA. He is also averaging over one strikeout per inning. Gregg has thrown 12 scoreless innings this season, saving six games. He hasn’t been closer as long, and therefore has had less opportunities than Reed.
Setup: Jesse Crain, White Sox
The 0.82 ERA posted by Crain this season makes him one of the top relievers in all of baseball. He has fanned 28 batters in 22 innings, surrendering 16 hits and walking just eight batters.
Setup: James Russell, Cubs
Russell has also established himself as one of the top relievers in all of baseball. He has let up just two runs all season, and has an ERA of 1.00 and a WHIP of 0.83. He has developed from a situational lefty to a premier setup man.