That's how long fans have to make their voices heard in the vote for the 2014 MLB All-Star Game. In-stadium, old-fashioned vote-counting has already commenced, the people in the league office working hard to tally up every ink-stained, scribbled-on sheet of folded paper filled out by a toddler as a mid-inning entertainment activity.
The only way fans can affect the process is via the online vote, which runs until 11:59 p.m. ET on Thursday night. Given how close some of the races are in both leagues, the last-minute tallies could wind up being the difference between some players starting at Target Field in a couple of weeks and some players not making the trip at all.
At the last check-in, third base in the National League and the final outfield spot in the American League were far too close to call. That's just fine for MLB, which looks to mine any possible intrigue it can from the Midsummer Classic.
With that in mind, let's take a quick look at the races in both leagues, highlighting some of the best battles and making predictions for the final starting lineups.
MLB All-Star Game Voting Info
Deadline: July 3 at 11:59 p.m. ET
Where to Vote: MLB.com
National League Roster Breakdown
|National League All-Star Starting Lineup Predictions|
|Catcher||Yadier Molina (Cardinals)|
|First Base||Paul Goldschmidt (Diamondbacks)|
|Second Base||Chase Utley (Phillies)|
|Shortstop||Troy Tulowitzki (Rockies)|
|Third Base||Aramis Ramirez (Brewers)|
|Outfield||Yasiel Puig (Dodgers)|
|Outfield||Andrew McCutchen (Pirates)|
|Outfield||Carlos Gomez (Brewers)|
For the most part, the National League roster is settled. Seven of the eight spots were separated by at least hundreds of thousands of votes at the last check-in. Though anything can happen when it comes to an Internet voting process, that's a whole heck of a lot of clicking over something that has zero chance of making you any money.
Jonathan Lucroy is probably more deserving, but Yadier Molina will earn his sixth straight All-Star berth. Molina is hitting .279/.330/.404 with seven home runs and 28 RBI. While those numbers are down from his offensive surge the past three seasons, Molina remains among the league's best defensive catchers. The Cardinals rank fourth in ERA, third in WHIP and second in batting average against. Molina's ability to frame pitches and work on the mental side with his staff has been a major boon in St. Louis for his entire career.
First base goes to Paul Goldschmidt, again having a sterling all-around season. Goldschmidt, perhaps the game's best all-around first baseman, is hitting .298/.386/.582 with 15 home runs and 53 RBI. He's on pace for his second consecutive six-win season. The relative lack of competition at first base in the NL makes Goldschmidt a no-brainer candidate.
The same could be said for Chase Utley, who holds a comfortable lead at second. Utley is having a fine season at age 35, but the key for him has been health. The Phillies lifer has missed only four games in 2014 and has avoided any major nicks and cuts.
Avoiding injury might be the only thing that keeps Troy Tulowitzki from the NL MVP award. The Rockies star is in the midst of a career year at the plate, belting 18 home runs and driving in 46 runs thus far. He will captain the NL All-Stars at the Home Run Derby and holds a lead of more than two million votes over Brewers shortstop Jean Segura. Tulo's 4.6 WAR puts him on pace to dwarf his previous career numbers.
Also largely settled is the outfield race. Yasiel Puig, Andrew McCutchen and Carlos Gomez are all within 60,000 votes of one another, giving each a strong cushion over hard-charging Giancarlo Stanton. The Miami Marlins star is likely a victim of his market in this regard. Puig is one of MLB's brightest faces and is playing in Los Angeles. McCutchen is the defending NL MVP. Gomez has perhaps the league's strongest voting contingent behind him; Milwaukee has players among the top five at every position.
That includes third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who is currently the leader of the only race in question. Ramirez led Mets star David Wright by fewer than 20,000 votes at the last update—an almost nonexistent total considering the sample. Ramirez has been more productive from a statistical standpoint and might have caught a break with Wright dealing with a shoulder injury.
The Brewers fan contingent gives me faith his lead will hold over the final few days.
American League Roster Breakdown
|American League All-Star Starting Lineup Prediction|
|Catcher||Matt Wieters (Orioles)|
|First Base||Miguel Cabrera (Tigers)|
|Second Base||Robinson Cano (Mariners)|
|Shortstop||Derek Jeter (Yankees)|
|Third Base||Josh Donaldson (Athletics)|
|Outfield||Jose Bautista (Blue Jays)|
|Outfield||Mike Trout (Angels)|
|Outfield||Melky Cabrera (Blue Jays)|
|Designated Hitter||Nelson Cruz (Orioles)|
I'm reminded of the 2001 All-Star Game when looking at the American League roster. It was the final All-Star Game for legends Cal Ripken and the legendary Tony Gwynn. Both were honored with their moments in the sun, and Ripken's line-drive home run over the left field fence remains one of the few Midsummer Classic memories etched in my brain.
This is, of course, because Target Field will play host to the final July appearance for Derek Jeter. The Yankees legend will retire after this season, and like the two legends whose appearances I'm reminded of, Jeter will come limping into the All-Star festivities. He's hitting a paltry .272/.329/.330 with two home runs and 18 RBI, and there is talk pervading about whether Jeter "deserves" the honor over better players.
Taking one quick look at the potential All-Stars at shortstop in the AL quickly exposes the answer as being "yes." Jed Lowrie is currently currently the fifth-place vote-getter. Alexei Ramirez might be more deserving of the starting nod, but the White Sox star will get his honor. Odds are, he'll get a lion's share of the action.
Honoring Jeter is an easier proposition because of the dearth in talent at his position. Same goes for Matt Wieters, who is significantly ahead of any other AL catcher despite playing only 26 games this season. Wieters is the AL's best catcher without question when healthy; that he hasn't played in nearly two months is concerning.
Derek Norris, who would probably start in the event Wieters cannot make the trip, is probably too far behind to catch the Orioles slugger at this point. Norris' lack of national profile also does not help.
The rest of the AL starting lineup is more justifiable from a production standpoint. Miguel Cabrera has continued his all-out assault on cowhide and continues to establish his reputation as the best hitter of this generation. Cabrera's power numbers are a little down this season—and are significantly less than Jose Abreu—but come on. The first base spot was decided before the ballots came out.
Robinson Cano has experienced a similar power outage this season. Cano's jet-setting out west and away from the short porch of New York has left him with only four dingers at the midway point. But he's still hitting over .300, and his power numbers will regress to the mean. His isolated power of .104 is roughly half of his 2013 number.
Josh Donaldson and his propensity for the big fly round out the infield. Nelson Cruz and his propensity for the big fly will start at designated hitter.
The outfield features the AL's two biggest vote-getters in Jose Bautista and Mike Trout. Bautista has returned to form this season after consecutive injury-plagued years and is baseball's leading vote-getter by a significant margin. And Trout just so happens to be the world's best baseball player. No biggie.
The third outfield spot will be occupied by someone with half the votes of Bautista and Trout. Toronto's Melky Cabrera currently leads the crop but is closely followed by Oakland's Yoenis Cespedes. The "who deserves it" question is a matter of taste. Cabrera has been better from most statistical measures; Cespedes is exponentially more fun to watch.
I'd take the fun one. But with a lead of more than 100,000 votes, the nod probably goes Cabrera's way.
Statistics current before Sunday's games. All advanced stats are via FanGraphs.
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