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Cubs Catcher Willson Contreras Named NL All-Star Starter for Third Time

Willson Contreras joins Gabby Hartnett as the only catchers in Cubs history with at least three All-Star starts.

Willson Contreras Chicago Cubs All-Star Game
Photo: Cubs/Twitter

After leading all National League catchers during the preliminary round of All-Star voting, Willson Contreras will start behind the dish in the 2022 Midsummer Classic. This marks the third time the Chicago Cubs backstop will start in the MLB All-Star Game.

Contreras joins Hall of Famer Gabby Hartnett as the only other Cubs catcher in franchise history with three All-Star starts. That’s pretty good company considering Hartnett won MVP honors in 1935 and made six consecutive All-Star appearances from 1933 to 1938.

Will Contreras get a chance to break Hartnett’s record? The uncertainty remains.

“I would love nothing more than to 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,” Contreras said following his All-Star selection. “I don’t see myself going anywhere else, but this is business.”

Playing in his final year under team control, Contreras is putting up excellent numbers. In 71 games this season, Willy is slashing .274/.392/.498 (.890 OPS) with 13 home runs and 35 RBIs. His Statcast page looks incredible as well. The righty slugger ranks in the top 15 percent or better in each of the following categories: average exit velocity, max exit velocity, hard hit rate, xwOBA, wOBA, and pop time.

Despite hamstring tightness keeping him out of action since July 4, Contreras was an easy decision to start for the National League team. Travis d’Arnaud of the Atlanta Braves, the runner-up in votes, touts a .795 OPS with 11 home runs and 37 RBIs. d’Arnaud has been good, but he’s only played in 57 games. Among qualified hitters at the catcher position, Contreras ranks second to only Alejandro Kirk with a 151 wRC+. Furthermore, Contreras is tied for the best fWAR (2.9).

The Coolest Part?

Willson Contreras might get a chance to start alongside his brother William Contreras of the Atlanta Braves. William lost to Bryce Harper in fan voting for the NL DH spot. That’s right; two Braves catchers finished second in voting at separate positions. However, Willson’s brother might get the start, given that Harper is out indefinitely with a fractured thumb.

A dream came true for the brothers earlier in the year as they squared off against each other at Wrigley Field. Willson has said in the past that he would love to play on the same team as his brother at some point. His wish might come sooner than expected at this year’s All-Star game.

Whether Contreras heads to another team at the trade deadline or comes to an agreement with the Chicago Cubs on a contract extension remains to be seen. If I had to put money on it, I would bet on a trade. Still, at least Cubs fans will get an opportunity to see another special moment as Willson will be representing the North Siders at the All-Star Game for the third time.

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