Who's going to get snubbed this year?
My fellow MLB FCs already predicted every starter for the 2012 MLB All-Star game in Kansas City, and I'd have to agree with most of their assessments.
But what about the snubs each season who are forced to rely on the fans and their organizations' marketing departments?
From Shane Victorino and Paul Konerko last season to to Andruw Jones and Johnny Damon back in 2002, fans have seen their fair share of creative "Final Vote" campaigns.
For those who don't know, the MLB selects five players from each league who were left off the squad, giving fans a chance to vote in one player from each league.
So who will be on the ballot for this year's Final Vote?
Here are my predictions:
Michael Bourn is the engine that makes the Atlanta Braves offense go.
Hitting .313 with a .363 OBP, Bourn ranks tied for fifth in the NL in runs scored and fourth in stolen bases, yet as of June 12, Bourn ranked No. 8 among NL outfielders in voting with 768,049 votes.
Never a power guy, the 29-year-old already has more home runs (six) than he has ever had in his career, and he ranks No. 2 in the NL in hits with 88.
With other players like Matt Kemp, Carlos Beltran, Ryan Braun, Andre Ethier, Matt Holliday and more ahead of him in voting, Bourn is sure to be snubbed from the squad, but is definitely deserving of a Final Vote chance.
It's a shame, but San Francisco Giants hurler Ryan Vogelsong will probably be left off the initial All-Star team due to being overshadowed by teammates Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner.
Vogelsong ranks No. 5 in the NL with a minuscule 2.29 ERA and his 6-2 record isn't too shabby either.
Cain and Bumgarner have each won eight games for San Francisco. Cain's recent no-hitter and 2.18 ERA and 0.85 WHIP will make him an easy All-Star selection, while Bumgarner's 2.92 ERA and 1.07 WHIP will best Vogelsong.
It's extremely rare for three starting pitchers from the same team to make the All-Star team, but it's not out of the question for Vogelsong to be on the Final Vote ballot.
Bryce Harper plays the game the right way, and aside from being a phenom and one of the most exciting players in the game right now, it's one of the min reasons he'll be eligible for the Final Vote ballot.
Through 44 games, the rookie has a line of .294/.370/.524 with seven homers and 19 RBI, combined with four stolen bases, an .894 OPS and some pretty plays in the outfield.
From his famous comments to a reporter in Toronto to his wacky haircut, Bryce Harper has given us many reasons both on and off the field to believe he deserves to be playing in Kansas City next month.
And with the Washington Nationals becoming more edgy—including their "Take Back the Park" campaign—Harper should have plenty of help from the Washington organization.
Mark my words: Jose Altuve will be snubbed.
He currently leads all NL second basemen in hits (83), batting average (.317), doubles (18), runs (43) and stolen bases (12), yet he ranks fourth amongst NL second baseman in voting, with 700,640 votes as of June 12.
Ahead of him are Dan Uggla, Brandon Phillips and Omar Infante, all players which Altuve posts better all-around numbers than.
Defensively, Altuve's numbers don't support an All-Star bid, as he has already committed eight errors. But Uggla, the leading vote-getter at second base, also has eight errors.
The popularity of Uggla and Phillips will probably overshadow Altuve's performance, but he deserves a chance to be on the Final Vote ballot.
Bryan LaHair isn't going to earn an All-Star selection over Joey Votto, especially playing for the Chicago Cubs, but that doesn't mean he can't make it with a little help from the MLB and the fans.
LaHair has been one of the few bright spots for the Cubs, hitting .297/.380/.560 with 12 HR and 26 RBI.
He's been solid in the field also, committing just three errors this season.
As of June 12, LaHair ranked No. 5 in All-Star voting for NL first basemen, with Votto, Lance Berkman, Freddie Freeman and Brandon Belt ahead of him.
It'll be difficult, but LaHair has a chance to earn his first All-Star appearance.
While Robinson Cano deserves the starting spot at second base for the AL, Jason Kipnis definitely deserves a spot on the team.
As of June 18, he ranked No. 4 in voting for second basemen, behind Ian Kinsler, Cano and Dustin Pedroia, despite leading all AL second basemen in RBI and stolen bases.
His .284 average, 11 HR, 41 RBI and 17 SB have been extremely impressive this season.
Kipnis has been great defensively, committing just three errors, which is the same as Cano, but two more than Pedroia.
Hopefully fans recognize the kind of season this dude is having. He's easily worthy of a roster spot on the AL All-Star squad.
Mike Trout has been the Bryce Harper of the American League.
An electric leadoff man for the Los Angeles Angels, Trout has been extremely impressive in his 45 games played this season.
Sporting a .324 average and 59 hits, Trout has scored 35 runs and stolen 16 bases while looking like a stud in center field.
While Josh Hamilton, Jose Bautista, Curtis Granderson and Adam Jones have dominated the voting for outfield, Trout still has an opportunity for write-in and the Final Vote by fans, and he undoubtedly deserves it.
The MLB's latest All-Star voting numbers for the AL have Austin Jackson as the No. 12 vote-getter, somehow behind Nick Swisher, Justin Upton, Jeff Francoeur and Brett Gardner, who has played in just nine games for the Yankees this season.
What is wrong with voters?
Jackson boasts a .323 average with seven homers and 27 RBI in just 44 games, also swiping six bases and posting a .415 OBP.
Furthermore, the outstanding center fielder has yet to commit an error in the Detroit Tigers outfield.
Hopefully voters wise up, because this guy deserves his first All-Star appearance in 2012.
It still baffles me that Billy Butler has never been selected to an All-Star game.
A career .297 hitter—including .300 this season with 12 HR and 38 RBI—Butler has found success in this league for five years now.
Butler has better numbers than some of the DHs in the top five in voting, including Raul Ibanez (.239, 10 HR and 32 RBI), who currently ranks No. 3 on the list with more than one million votes.
If nothing else, it'd be nice for the hometown to have a guy to root for.
Jason Hammel's one-hitter against the Atlanta Braves has helped him gain some more recognition around the league, but I still don't think he's an obvious All-Star selection. He will need help via the Final Vote ballot.
He's having a fine season, at 7-2 with a 2.87 ERA and 1.16 WHIP, but he will have to compete with names like CC Sabathia, David Price, C.J. Wilson, Justin Verlander, Chris Sale and Yu Darvish for a spot on the team.
And we all know a lot of the voting is based on who you are rather than what you've done on the field, and Hammel isn't very well known.
I'm hoping Hammel doesn't need the Final Vote for his first All-Star selection, but it very well may come down to it.
National League: Bryce Harper
American League: Mike Trout
You can't argue with what these two rookies have done for their respected squads this season. I think both of these guys possess the capable offensive and defensive skills to be All-Stars for years to come in the MLB, so why not start in 2012?
Besides, it would be pretty sweet to see two first-year guys make the team.
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