There is a "changing of the guard" taking place in front of baseball fans across the nation.
For years, the Midsummer Classic would feature popularity-contest showdowns with emphasis on big-market franchises and their voting fanbases.
This year promises to be different.
Now, a younger generation of players are beginning to showcase their skills and earn the accolade of being named to the All-Star game.
Some of these young stars have been all-stars before, yet there are a number of players who will be playing in an All-Star game for the first time. Some promise to showcase their talent for the entire baseball world.
Despite the transition, there have already been stories of snubs and omissions.
Perhaps the most noteworthy is that of Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig. In a mere 123 at-bats during his first 31 games with the Dodgers, Puig is hitting .407 with eight home runs and 19 runs batted in. Combine that with his raw athleticism and speed, and there is little reason to see Puig miss the Midsummer Classic.
Danny Knobler of CBS Sports agrees. He writes:
Above all else, the All-Star Game is a show, and right now Yasiel Puig is baseball's best showman. Above all else, baseball needs to give people a reason to watch the All-Star Game. Yasiel Puig is a reason. He's also the first player ever to win a player of the month award in his first month in the big leagues. He was the National League's player of the month, and the National League's rookie of the month.
While Puig was not initially selected to be a part of the National League All-Star roster, there is still an outside chance that he makes the team thanks to Major League Baseball's All-Star Game Final Vote which gives fans the opportunity to vote on the last two All-Stars.
If Puig is eventually selected to make the team, he would have the perfect opportunity to show the rest of the baseball world why he has been such a shot-in-the-arm over the past month.
In the case of second baseman Jason Kipnis of the Cleveland Indians, he will not have to worry about a fan vote potentially snubbing his opportunity to make his first All-Star roster. Fortunately, the third-year infielder was named as an American League reserve behind second basemen Robinson Cano and Dustin Pedroia.
After a slow start to the 2013 season, Kipnis was able to rebound very nicely after a problematic first month. As described by Yahoo! Sports Shaun Heidrick, Kipnis' performance since the start of May could result in a 30-homer, 100-plus RBI season over a full year. Heidrick argues that Kipnis has been the best offensive second baseman in the American League this season.
Thus far, Kipnis is hitting .296 with 13 home runs and 54 RBIs. His 19 stolen bases are good for fifth in the American League.
While Kipnis may not be the flashiest and most popular player on the American League's All-Star roster, he will surely catch some eyes on July 16th.
Jumping back to the National League West, first baseman Paul Goldschmidt of the Arizona Diamondbacks has a chance to reveal how he has become one of the young and dominating sluggers in baseball.
Goldschmidt burst onto the scene last year during his first full-season when he hit .286 with 20 home runs and 82 RBIs. He looks to surpass all of those stats in 2013 and has already posted a .305 batting average with 21 home runs and a league-leading 73 runs batted in.
There is no way that Goldschmidt can be left off the National League roster. While Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds is going to start the game, Goldschmidt could emerge as the bigger star during the game.
David Miller of Rant Sports feels that Goldschmidt got the starting snub as voters elected Votto to start instead. Miller elaborates further:
I know people get to vote but there has to be some room for a guy that is breaking out as the best first baseman in the National League to start the [All-Star] game. Nothing against Votto but he hasn’t been the best first baseman this year in the NL, Goldschmidt has. Basically all Votto getting voted in means is that there were more people scrambling to vote him in than there were Goldschmidt. It has absolutely nothing to do with the skills.
Either way, Goldschmidt will turn heads this All-Star game. National League West fans know him well by now. The rest of baseball will very soon.
Another first baseman has a chance to also light up Citi Field later this month: Baltimore Orioles' Chris Davis.
Davis has already tied his season-high 33 home runs he hit last year and the 2013 season is not yet halfway over. In addition, Davis is hitting .324 with 85 RBIs and an astounding 1.120 OPS which leads the American League.
It is a simple reason why the first-time All-Star is leading all others in votes.
Perhaps even more spectacular are the thoughts and stories that Davis may have a chance to challenge the American League single-season home run record of 61 set by Roger Maris in 1961. As reported by CBS Sports insider Jon Heyman, Davis is on par to do so if he does not slow down in the second half like many others before him have done.
Either way, fans are going to be excited about what Davis does during the All-Star break. They may follow him more towards the end of the season if he keeps up this torrent pace.
The remainder of the first-time All-Stars also have a similar chance to showcase their own talents and become the next vanguard of baseball's best, taking over from the players who have long-dominated the Midsummer Classic for years.
All statistics and records courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.
Peter Panacy is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @PeterMcshots
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!