September 27, 2022

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Pick your All-Star: Anderson vs. Bichette

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Phase 2 of the Chevrolet MLB All-Star Ballot has arrived, and that means some of the most exciting players in MLB are going head to head for the right to start the 92nd All-Star Game on July 19 at Dodger Stadium.

The Phase 1 results were announced last Thursday, leaving two final candidates per league at each position except for outfield, where four finalists will battle it out for two spots. (The Yankees’ Aaron Judge and the Braves’ Ronald Acuña Jr. clinched automatic starting spots by virtue of being their respective leagues’ top vote-getters in Phase 1). In each case, vote counts start over from zero rather than carrying over from Phase 1.

Fans can vote once per day in Phase 2, which continues until 2 p.m. ET on Friday. Unsure of which box to check? MLB.com is here to help, with breakdowns of some of the more intriguing one-on-one ballot showdowns.

At shortstop for the AL, it’s Chicago’s Tim Anderson and Toronto’s Bo Bichette. Here is what you need to know:

Born: June 23, 1993 (Age 29)

Birthplace: Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Drafted: 1st round, 2013 (by CHW)

Debuted: June 10, 2016 (with CHW)

Born: March 5, 1998 (age 24)

Birthplace: Orlando, Fla.

Drafted: 2nd round, 2016 (by TOR)

Debuted: July 29, 2019 (with TOR)

DEFINING STAT (THROUGH WEDNESDAY)

Anderson: .314 batting average
As we’ve seen in each of the last four seasons of his career, Anderson just hits and hits. He isn’t a qualified batter right now due to time missed on the injured list with a groin injury, but his .314 average is still notable. It’s sixth in the AL among batters with at least 200 plate appearances. His .318 expected batting average, based on quality of contact, is 98th percentile, too.

Bichette: 126 hard-hit batted balls
A hard-hit ball is one with a 95+ mph exit velocity, and only four players have more of them in 2022 than Bichette does. Bichette is hitting a cool .532 with a .968 slugging percentage in at-bats ending on hard contact this season. Not too shabby. Bichette also leads the Majors in plate appearances, being a consistent presence for his postseason-hopeful club.

Anderson:
It’s been an injury-riddled first half for the White Sox, and that includes Anderson, as noted earlier. He missed 18 games in late May and June with that groin injury. But when healthy, he’s continued to hit. Before the injury on May 29, the month was the most productive of his career, with a .385 average, his highest in a calendar month (min. 80 plate appearances). His current .314 average would be his second-highest in a first half, behind only 2019 (.317), when he led MLB in average for the season. He’s on pace for his third-best year by both batting average and OPS+, behind only 2019 and ‘20.

Bichette:
The Blue Jays are one of three AL East clubs pursuing a Wild Card berth, and Bichette is a key part of the team. While some of his stats aren’t where we’re used to seeing them, there are very encouraging signs with his contact. His 49.0% hard-hit rate would be a career-high and ranks in the 91st percentile in MLB. In related news, his expected batting average and expected slugging percentage, which are based on quality of contact, are .286 and .494, respectively. That’s closer to what we expect of him, and indicates that his results thus far should be better, based on what he’s done.

Anderson:
In 2016, Anderson received AL Rookie of the Year votes to start off his career. His breakout campaign came in ‘19, when he led the Majors with a .335 batting average, as noted above. In 2020, he won the AL Silver Slugger at shortstop and finished seventh for AL MVP. He has a .485 batting average in his seven-game postseason career so far.

Bichette:
Bichette debuted on July 29, 2019, and by Aug. 8, he had set an MLB record. From July 31-Aug. 8, he notched a double in nine straight games, the longest such streak in MLB history — for anyone, not just a rookie. He led the AL in hits last season and received down-ballot MVP consideration.

Anderson:
This would be the second All-Star selection and first start for Anderson, who was a reserve last year. He replaced none other than Bichette on defense in the bottom of the eighth, but never came to the plate. The only White Sox shortstop to be voted a starter since voting was returned to the fans in 1970 was Luis Aparicio, in ‘70.

Bichette:
This would be the second All-Star selection and first start for Bichette, who was a reserve last year. He entered the game in the bottom of the fifth and hit against Mark Melancon in the top of the eighth, striking out. No Blue Jays shortstop has been voted a starter in franchise history.

Anderson:
Anderson oozes emotion on the field, making him a fun and intriguing watch. Never was that more visible than in his epic Field of Dreams walk-off homer last August. That “it’s over” celebration? Chef’s kiss.

Bichette:
He knows the importance and power of a good friend. As SportsNet announcer Dan Shulman noted earlier this season, this is the sixth season that Vlad Jr. and Bichette have been teammates. A key part of said friendship? Hugs abound.

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