Dynamic rookie Yasiel Puig is easily the favorite to win the NL Final Vote despite limited MLB experience.
Most of the 2013 MLB All-Stars were revealed on Saturday, but another phase of the selection process is just beginning. Thanks to the Final Vote, fans can choose additional players for the American and National League rosters.
These are the 10 talented candidates vying for your affection:
|AL Candidates||NL Candidates|
|RHP Joaquin Benoit (Detroit Tigers)||SS Ian Desmond (Washington Nationals)|
|RHP Steve Delabar (Toronto Blue Jays)||1B Freddie Freeman (Atlanta Braves)|
|RHP David Robertson (New York Yankees)||1B Adrian Gonzalez (Los Angeles Dodgers)|
|RHP Tanner Scheppers (Texas Rangers)||OF Hunter Pence (San Francisco Giants)|
|RHP Koji Uehara (Boston Red Sox)||OF Yasiel Puig (Los Angeles Dodgers)|
Quality of first-half performance, historical trends and common sense allow us to closely approximate their odds of winning.
*All video clips courtesy of MLB.com.
Moments after the Final Vote candidates were announced, Steve Delabar introduced a clever campaign hashtag. Personality is obviously a plus in this competition.
The soon-to-be 30-year-old boasts a 12.83 K/9 as of July 6, which ranks him above the other American League candidates. He gets it done with electric stuff, including a fastball that averages 95 miles per hour, per FanGraphs.
The Toronto Blue Jays reside deep in the AL East cellar. As a result, casual fans might not be familiar with their relievers, particularly Delabar, who's third in their bullpen pecking order behind closer Casey Janssen and All-Star Brett Cecil.
Although his command has noticeably improved since Memorial Day, he has issued 22 walks through 40 innings (5.0 BB/9). Fans thinking strategically will hesitate to support a pitcher who doesn't always know where the ball is going.
Past Final Vote candidates representing the Blue Jays have fared horribly. Roy Halladay (2007) and Adam Lind (2009) both finished last on the AL ballot.
Tanner Scheppers tops the AL options in earned run average and innings pitched. Those stats might be even more impressive if not for the hitter-friendly conditions of Rangers Ballpark.
The Texas Rangers setup man has less major league experience than the others, and voters always embrace new things.
His team's fanbase has grown in both size and intensity so far this decade. As the Rangers battle for the division lead, enthusiasm certainly hasn't waned.
The version of Scheppers we've seen since May 19 has been erratic and far less effective overall.
He generates way more ground balls than strikeouts, which isn't sexy. That's disappointing from someone who possesses such elite velocity.
Though #TakeTanner makes good use of alliteration, it lacks the originality to trend outside the Dallas-Fort Worth region.
Saves actually influence the perspectives of many fans, and Joaquin Benoit has six, more than the other AL candidates combined. For what it's worth (and it shouldn't be worth anything), the 35-year-old is undefeated.
He appeals to the sabermetrics crowd, too. Per FanGraphs, Benoit is the best of the bunch in terms of FIP and WAR despite a sustainable .293 BABIP.
Coming off a World Series appearance, the Detroit Tigers have a ton of followers. That's evident from the eight million votes that Miguel Cabrera received to start at third base in a year where the position is stacked with deserving players.
Just like #TakeTanner, #BackBenoit is sort of lame.
The Midsummer Classic is being held in the Big Apple. Even though the New York Mets will host it, the entire metropolitan area has more awareness and energy than usual.
David Robertson gets a significant boost by setting up for Mariano Rivera in the Sandman's final season.
The University of Alabama product will surely do his part to spread the word about his Final Vote campaign. He's both active and popular on Twitter.
His earned run average pales in comparison to the other hopeful relievers despite fewer innings pitched.
Three of Koji Uehara's countrymen—Yu Darvish, Hideki Matsui and Hideki Okajima—have been Final Vote candidates since the gimmick was created in 2002. All of them succeeded in making an All-Star roster.
Do not underestimate the power of Japanese and other international fans. Uehara is going to grab a huge share of their votes after spending the first decade of his professional career in the Far East.
Along with Joaquin Benoit, he's currently a closer on a first-place club. The 38-year-old allows fewer baserunners, however, and boasts an excellent 6.50 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Since debuting in the majors in 2009, Uehara has been vulnerable to the home run ball. He has served up five through 37 innings so far this summer.
Some AL fans probably imagine him leaving an 88-mile-per-hour fastball over the middle of the plate during the All-Star Game.
Dating back to June 2, Freddie Freeman has reached base in 30 of 32 games. His batting average hasn't dipped below the .300 mark since late May.
The Atlanta Braves still maintain a firm hold atop the National League East.
An April oblique strain relegated Freeman to the disabled list. He returned when eligible, but doesn't rival other NL first basemen when it comes to extra-base hits because of the lost time.
Allen Craig, Paul Goldschmidt and Joey Votto provide ample depth for the Senior Circuit.
On a Los Angeles Dodgers team that slumped for much of the first half, Adrian Gonzalez stands out for his consistency.
Everybody knows the first baseman from his dominant years with the San Diego Padres and successful stint in Beantown.
Chicks dig the long ball, and this perennial All-Star has launched three of them since the beginning of July. His Gold Glove-caliber defense ought to be appreciated, too.
The aforementioned depth at his position is obviously an obstacle.
Moreover, a pretty bright star who's also on the Dodgers roster will hog the attention.
After amassing 25 home runs and 21 stolen bases in 2012, Ian Desmond is on pace for near-identical totals. That kind of athleticism sells.
There's no guarantee that fan-elected National League shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (broken rib) will be fully healthy in time for the All-Star Game. Desmond would add extra depth to that position.
The Washington Nationals have been major underachievers. They're barely holding on to second place in a down year for the NL East.
Desmond's terrible plate discipline could doom him against AL power pitchers who expand the strike zone.
Hunter Pence's awkwardness makes him extremely likable.
He's also pretty good at baseball. Pence has 37 extra-base hits—including 13 home runs—despite spending half the season at cavernous AT&T Park.
The 30-year-old outfielder excels against left-handed pitching, which would make him a formidable weapon off the National League bench.
The Twitter juggernaut has nearly 200,000 followers who might side with him.
San Francisco Giants fans ultimately didn't have enough clout to get superstar catcher Buster Posey into the NL lineup. Actually, none of their position players received a starting nod.
Given the gloomy state of the franchise in 2013, it's hard to envision them having the energy to rally behind Pence's sub-.800 OPS.
We could spend the entire five-day voting period quoting Yasiel Puig stats that summarize his unprecedented, career-opening awesomeness.
There's the one about his 44 hits through one calendar month, which put him in the exclusive company of Joe DiMaggio. Only teammate Hanley Ramirez sports a higher OPS this season among National League players (min. 100 PA).
Even the numbers don't do this Cuban phenom justice. You really need to watch his effortless opposite-field power and hair-on-fire hustle.
Puig only debuted on June 3, so the league hasn't had sufficient time to adjust to his unique skill set.
There's a faction of MLB fans—albeit a minority—who will not vouch for him considering the other NL Final Vote choices have been fighting for their teams since Opening Day.