On Sunday night, Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu was voted to start for the American League in the 89th MLB All-Star game this year in Washington D.C. on July 17th. Abreu becomes the first White Sox player to be voted to start in an All-Star game since White Sox legend Frank Thomas did so in 1996.
This will be his second All-Star game as he made it in his rookie season when he was selected as a reserve.
Between Thomas and Abreu’s start, the team has sent only two other first basemen to an All-Star game, but neither won the fan voting to start the game. The White Sox have had pitchers to start for the American League in Chris Sale, Mark Buehrle. and Estaban Loaiza. Loaiza did so in front of the home crowd when the White Sox hosted the All-Star game in 2003.
There is huge significance to Abreu winning the vote to start at first base as it speaks volumes about the fan base. White Sox fans have been criticized and made fun of on both a local and national level for the team’s low attendance for home games. When it comes to fan voting, it is regarded a popularity contest as team’s with larger fan bases tend to have players from their own team win starting spot even though the players might not deserve so. A key example was Shea Hillenbrand in 2002.
Although Abreu currently is mired in a month-long slump in which his batting average has dropped below .260, he still has been a productive player for the White Sox both on and off the field. He has driven in over 50 RBIs and is on pace to have his fifth-straight season of at least 25 home runs and 100 RBIs. He is one of just three players to achieve this feat in their first four seasons in the major leagues, the other two players include Joe DiMaggio and Albert Pujols. He has been a leader for a White Sox team that features many inexperienced players.
In a season that may go down as the worst in franchise history, Abreu being named a starter in the All-Star game may be the lone bright spot this year. It will provide the team with national recognition and possible assist in building the fan base going forward. It could also help draw attention to the team’s younger talent when they come into their own. The selection speaks volumes not only about Abreu’s success being noticed but for the fan base helping to reward and pay tribute to that success also.