The winner of the All-Star Game MVP award is more unpredictable than the regular-season award. If you look at the last 10 years, there's been a diverse mix of elite superstars, one-year wonders and retiring closers who have been bestowed the honor.
As the 2014 All-Star Game approaches, the list of potential MVP candidates that you can rattle off the top of your head is vast.
Do you choose the best player in the sport (Mike Trout)?
How about the best pitcher (Clayton Kershaw)?
Does Jose Abreu's prodigious power put him in line to shine in his All-Star Game debut?
Even with no shortage of names to choose, there are a few that stand out for the rest for reasons that we will get into. Here are our top three choices to be named MVP of the Midsummer Classic on July 15.
No. 3: Giancarlo Stanton, OF, Miami Marlins
In a game loaded with power hitters like Abreu, Trout and Jose Bautista in the American League and Troy Tulowitzki in the National League, no one hits more impressive or majestic homers than Miami star Giancarlo Stanton.
The 24-year-old led the NL in homers through Thursday with 21 and home run-to-fly ball percentage at 21.4. Then there is this little nugget, courtesy of ESPN Stats & Info, about how prodigious Stanton's power is:
Marlins OF Giancarlo Stanton has 5 HR calculated at 450 feet or further this season. That’s more than any other TEAM in MLB— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 8, 2014
Even though he will be going up against a pitching staff that features power arms like Max Scherzer, Felix Hernandez, Yu Darvish and David Price, Stanton has so much natural strength that he doesn't have to square a pitch up to hit it out.
All it takes is one of those majestic moon shots for Stanton to jump up everyone's list of MVP candidates at the All-Star Game. Given what we know about the Marlins' young stud, that shouldn't be a problem.
No. 2: Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels
Who is the favorite to win All-Star Game MVP honors?
I wanted to make a joke about how Trout can't win a regular-season MVP award, so he will have to settle for being the best player in an exhibition game, but something tells me that awards recognition won't elude the Angels superstar much longer.
Since most players aren't going to be on the field for all nine innings, it's easier to get recognized if you can do everything instead of specializing in one area. As much fun as it is to watch Stanton blast homers, he doesn't bring a lot of diversity to the table in the field or on the bases.
Trout, on the other hand, specializes in being able to do anything on a baseball field that he wants. The 22-year-old isn't stealing as many bases as he did the last two years, but speed is still very much a part of what makes him special.
Combine that with the best power production of his career (.590 slugging percentage) and improved defensive numbers compared to 2013, Trout has the potential to make at least two spectacular plays as long as he's in the lineup.
No. 1 Derek Jeter, SS, New York Yankees
Let's be honest. We are talking about an exhibition game for the fans, despite the pointless slogan telling us "this game counts," and since the fans play a role in determining the MVP, sentiment will trump everything.
Like last year's game, which saw Mariano Rivera awarded MVP honors for pitching one scoreless inning in the AL's 3-0 triumph, the New York Yankees will send another icon to the Midsummer Classic for the final time.
Derek Jeter has been the face of baseball since debuting in 1996. Even though he's not the hitter he used to be, The Captain still warrants more of a reaction at the plate than anyone in the sport.
Fans are still buying his No. 2 jersey in droves, proving how popular the Yankees shortstop remains even as his skills decline. As long as Jeter doesn't completely botch a play at shortstop, or strike out three times, it will take a strong effort from someone else to prevent him from being named MVP of the All-Star Game for the second time in his career.
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