The Midsummer Classic is nearly around the corner, and the MLB's top performers in the first half of the 2014 season will be invited (thanks to the fans) to compete for home-field advantage in the World Series.
Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota, will be the host for an exciting several days of events, but it all culminates on July 15 when the American League representatives clash against the best of the National League.
Things can get crazy with fan voting, however, and the right decisions aren't always made. The voting has gone well (for the most part) up until now, and with voting officially in the books, it's time to look forward to the All-Star Game Selection Show on Sunday, July 5.
For now, we only know the leaders as of July 1. You'll find those leaders below, along with some predictions regarding several players on the cusp of the game.
|Current ASG 2014 Leaderboard|
|First Base||Miguel Cabrera||3,323,380|
|Second Base||Robinson Cano||2,474,924|
|Third Base||Josh Donaldson||2,943,332|
|First Base||Paul Goldschmidt||2,582,955|
|Second Base||Chase Utley||2,436,143|
|Third Base||Aramis Ramirez||1,790,777|
|ESPN.com as of July 1|
Jose Altuve Will (Wrongfully) be Snubbed
Jose Altuve has been one of the top hitters in all of baseball this year. Yet, as of the current ballot, he's buried in the rankings behind Robinson Cano, Ian Kinsler and Dustin Pedroia.
That's just not right.
Altuve has been incredible this year. The diminutive second baseman boasts a slash line of .343/.383/.445. The .343 average leads the league, as do his 118 hits and 37 stolen bases. Not generally thought of as a speedster, Altuve has picked his spots well this season.
His two homers and 26 RBI aren't flashy (especially when compared to the aforementioned guys ahead of him), but there's no better candidate to hit atop the AL's lineup in Minneapolis.
Mike Trout could feasibly hit No. 1, but do you want arguably your team's best hitter hitting leadoff? No. You want him in a spot to drive in runs. With Altuve hitting first, this gives the AL the optimal chance of scoring runs and winning the game.
You know, because the game matters.
Houston Astros manager Bo Porter and catcher Jason Castro think that Altuve deserves more than the All-Star Game. He told Howard Chen of CSN Houston that Altuve needs to be put in the AL MVP discussion:
'I may be biased, but I think it's warranted,' Porter said. 'If you give me a vote and the season ended today, he's the MVP of the American League.'
'I mean, if he keeps playing like he has so far, I don't see why not,' Castro said. 'He's a pretty special player and to have someone like that, he's been an integral part of our success this year. I definitely don't see why he wouldn't at least be in the conversation, for sure.'
A player in the MVP discussion certainly deserves a nod to the Midsummer Classic, no? Unfortunately, he'll be snubbed because of the overwhelming popularity of the guys ahead of him.
Jonathan Lucroy Will Also Get Snubbed
Jonathan Lucroy deserves to be the starting catcher for the NL at Target Field. Instead, Yadier Molina will likely be behind the dish.
Molina hasn't been bad this season, but Lucroy has just been that much better. He owns a slash line of .331/.399/.511 with eight homers, 43 RBI and a league-leading 29 doubles. Couple that with his work behind the dish, and you've got yourself an MVP-candidate catcher.
Unfortunately, the popularity of Molina will win out.
Lucroy deserves just as much praise, however, as he's a huge reason why the Milwaukee Brewers are still dominating the rest of the National League. The Brewers currently sit at 51-35, the best record in the Senior Circuit.
It's a close vote as it stands now, with Lucroy about 500,000 votes behind last year's third-place finisher in the NL MVP. It's a total that could have easily been made up by the close of voting, but we won't know for certain until the results are announced on Sunday.
Yasiel Puig Will Lose to Giancarlo Stanton for OF3, but DH Instead
The NL really can't go wrong with its outfield. The three current leaders—Andrew McCutchen, Carlos Gomez and Yasiel Puig—are three of the top outfielders in the game today.
Lurking behind Puig is Giancarlo Stanton, and because chicks dig the long ball, I'm giving the nod to the Miami Marlins' slugger. Let's compare the stats of the two below:
|Stanton vs. Puig|
|Player||Slash Line||Other Numbers|
|Giancarlo Stanton||.313/.412/.585||21 HR, 61 RBI, 21 2B, 99 H, 59 R|
|Yasiel Puig||.314/.401/.518||11 HR, 46 RBI, 21 2B, 95 H, 45 R|
As you can see, Stanton has been the more powerful hitter. But has he been the better one? Probably not.
Puig has been stellar in the field and at the plate, and he's already a fan favorite despite just over a full year of service time. Fans won't be disappointed, though, as the NL is lucky this year to have the ability to throw a DH into its lineup.
That's what an American League park can do for you.
Puig is certainly deserving of a spot in the starting lineup, and he'll get the opportunity to wreak havoc on the likes of Masahiro Tanaka, Felix Hernandez and the other star pitchers of the AL. Look for him to do some damage as the DH.
Follow Kenny DeJohn on Twitter: @KennyDeJohn_BR