Like anything else that involves voting, the 2012 All-Star Game will be as much of a popularity contest as it is a true reflection of which players are having the best seasons.
And that's fine—it's for the paying fans of the sport, and they should be allowed to see whomever they want. If the fans want to watch Derek Jeter play in the game when he's 52 years old and has the defensive range of Jabba the Hutt, so be it.
But it also means that some truly deserving players are going to be left off of the team, even after the managers make their selections. Let's take a look at those players.
Carlos Ruiz, C, Philadelphia Phillies
Ruiz has been one of the few bright spots on a disappointing Phillies team this season. Statistically, he is having the best offensive season of any catcher in baseball.
Ruiz is currently hitting .358 with 11 home runs and 43 RBI, astronomical numbers both for his position and career averages. But Ruiz may be left off the team, as Buster Posey was the leading vote-getter at the position at last tally and Yadier Molina is having a fantastic season.
Plus, the National League manager is Tony La Russa, and he's likely to select his guy, Molina, over Ruiz. Which means for as good as the latter has been, if the players don't vote him in, there's a very good chance he won't be participating in the Midsummer Classic.
Edwin Encarnacion, 1B/DH, Toronto Blue Jays
Encarnacion plays the wrong position in the American League.
At first base, he would have to overcome Prince Fielder, Paul Konerko, Mark Teixeira and Albert Pujols to garner a selection. Heck, even at the designated hitter spot he's dealing with players like David Ortiz and Michael Young.
It's hard to imagine either the players or manager Ron Washington will select him for the squad. And that's a shame, because Encarnacion is hitting .289 with 22 home runs (fifth in baseball) and 59 RBI.
If only he played a different position...
Jason Kipnis, 2B, Cleveland Indians
If Kipnis isn't elected for this squad, it will be a travesty. But I'm sorry to report that it's a very real possibility.
At last tally, he was fourth among AL second basemen, with Robinson Cano looking like a solid bet to earn the fans' vote. Second in the voting was Texas Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler, meaning his selection by Ron Washington would be totally justified.
And you couldn't blame Washington for taking care of one of his guys, especially when Kinsler's been good enough this season to warrant the honor.
But Kipnis is totally deserving of the honor as well, hitting .275 with 11 home runs, 46 RBI and 19 stolen bases. If three second basemen are to be included on the roster, I'd give him the edge over every other candidate. But in my opinion, he's got "snub" written all over him.
And that's a shame.
Hit me up on Twitter—my tweets want Dwight Howard to just get traded already too.
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