Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras has earned a return trip to Dodger Stadium, and Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson is taking a dream come true to another level.
Contreras was voted into the All-Star Game as the National League starter at catcher. It’s his third All-Star honor (2018 and 2019), having started each time.
”I can’t believe it,” Contreras said. “This means everything to me being (in the organization) 13 years, and I’m really thankful and proud of everything that I’ve done here.
”I would love nothing more than play for the Chicago Cubs the rest of my life, and obviously those kind of things are out of my control, but I’m really excited and proud.”
Anderson, who recently described his first All-Star experience last year as a “dream come true,” is headed back to the game — this time as a starter. Anderson topped Bo Bichette of the Toronto Blue Jays in the final ballot voting Friday and was named the American League starter at shortstop for the Midsummer Classic, which takes place July 19 in Los Angeles.
Anderson received 55% of the vote to Bichette’s 45%.
“It wasn’t long into my first year here when I said he was as good as anybody out there,” Sox manager Tony La Russa said before Friday’s game against the Detroit Tigers at Guaranteed Rate Field. “If you see him enough, then you’ll see, you rank him with the best playing.”
Contreras, a free agent after 2022, is in the midst of his best offensive season of his seven-year career. He is third in the National League with a .392 on-base percentage and is tied for the major-league lead with the Dodgers’ Will Smith among catchers with 13 home runs. Contreras’ .890 OPS also leads the NL at his position.
Contreras join Gabby Hartnett (1934, 1936-37) as the only catchers in Cubs history to make three All-Star Game starts. He’s also only the fourth Cubs catcher in the last the 40 years to make an All-Star team. Contreras becomes the 10th player in Cubs history to make at least three All-Star Game starts along with Ernie Banks, Andre Dawson, Stan Hack, Hartnett, Billy Herman, Don Kessinger, Ryne Sandberg, Ron Santo and Sammy Sosa.
Contreras is still day to day with left hamstring tightness but expects to play at some point during the Cubs’ four-game weekend series at Dodger Stadium.
Anderson entered Friday with a .313/.352/.422 slash line in 55 games. He had five home runs, 20 RBIs and 10 stolen bases.
Anderson will be the first Sox shortstop to start the All-Star Game since Luis Aparicio in 1970. He is the fourth Sox shortstop to start, joining Aparicio (seven times), Chico Carrasquel (three times) and Luke Appling (twice).
Anderson was one of four Sox players on last year’s AL roster at Coors Field in Denver, joining pitchers Lance Lynn, Carlos Rodón and Liam Hendriks.
Anderson entered that game at shortstop in the eighth and was in the on-deck circle in the top of the ninth when the inning’s final out was recorded.
It’s possible Anderson could be joined this year by starter Dylan Cease. The right-hander is 7-4 with a 2.45 ERA in 17 starts and entered Friday tied for the AL lead with 133 strikeouts.
Pitchers and reserves, added via a combination of player-ballot choices and picks from the commissioner’s office, will be announced at 4:30 p.m. Sunday on ESPN.