With more than half of the MLB season in the books, the focus now shifts toward baseball's Midsummer Classic in the form of the MLB All-Star Game.
While the game is an exhibition, it will be competitive since home-field advantage in the World Series will be up for grabs. Fans have been voting for the past several weeks, but the entire American League and National League rosters will be revealed during a special selection show Sunday night.
MLB's best players will converge on the Minnesota Twins' Target Field on July 15, but there will undoubtedly be plenty of controversy regarding who makes the cut and who doesn't.
With that in mind, here is everything you need to know about when and where to watch the All-Star Selection Show along with predictions for the 33-man rosters in both leagues.
When: Sunday, July 6 at 7 p.m. ET
Live Stream: WatchESPN
AL Roster Predictions
|American League Roster Predictions|
The potential American League roster is exciting to think about. It is stacked with powerful hitters and power arms. Big boppers like Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu, Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista and Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout are all virtual locks to make the team.
In addition to that, the American League boasts an impressive stable of pitchers that includes Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners, Masahiro Tanaka of the New York Yankees and many more.
Perhaps the most controversial potential selection is Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. Although he isn't having a sparkling year, this is his final MLB season, and there are plenty of fans who would love to see him in the game.
According to Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com, he is in position to win the fan vote:
Despite his current standing, the Yankees' captain isn't convinced that his spot on the team is secure quite yet, per MLB.com's Bryan Hoch.
"You know me—I don't think about that before it happens," Jeter said. "I learned that a long time ago. I'll wait to see what happens."
Even if Jeter isn't the best shortstop in the AL currently, many players have made the All-Star Game in this manner before, with Cal Ripken Jr. and the late Tony Gwynn coming to mind. This game is for the fans, so Jeter making it would certainly be fitting.
NL Roster Predictions
|National League Roster Predictions|
It can be argued that the National League's potential roster isn't quite as impressive as the AL's from top to bottom, but there is still plenty of talent across all positions. That is especially true in the outfield, where there has been quite a battle in the voting.
With Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Milwaukee Brewers' Carlos Gomez seemingly entrenched, the final spot will come down to eccentric Los Angeles Dodgers star Yasiel Puig and Miami Marlins powerhouse Giancarlo Stanton.
According to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times, Puig still holds the advantage:
Regardless of which one of them gets voted in, it is almost a sure thing that they will both make the team as they are enjoying spectacular campaigns.
It will also be interesting to see how St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny handles the pitching situation. There are so many starters with great numbers in the NL right now that Matheny will have some extremely difficult decisions to make.
If he pulls the right strings, though, his team may have the arms necessary to counteract the American League's top-notch hitting.
Some players who don't make the initial All-Star Game rosters will still have an opportunity to get voted in by the fans in the last-chance 34th-man vote. With that said, there will inevitably be some great players left out in the cold.
The American League boasts four outstanding designated hitters, but one or two of them will have to stay home. Nelson Cruz, Edwin Encarnacion and Victor Martinez have all been too productive to leave out. That means perennial Boston Red Sox All-Star David Ortiz could be the odd man out.
He does have the advantage of Red Sox manager John Farrell serving as the AL's manager, though. According to Ryan Hannable of Metro Boston, Farrell admitted that Ortiz is in the running for a spot:
As much as Farrell would like to take his guy, though, he simply can't snub Cruz, Encarnacion or Martinez.
In the NL, catcher is a position of interest. While it is an extremely weak position in the AL, the opposite is true in the Senior Circuit. Yadier Molina and Jonathan Lucroy will likely make the team, but the third spot will come down to Devin Mesoraco and Buster Posey.
Posey is a key player for the San Francisco Giants and perhaps the best all-around backstop in the league, but Mesoraco is tearing the cover off the ball and will be tough to leave out. Whoever doesn't make it will know that they had a good enough resume to be on the team.
Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter