Leagues always leave open the possibility of some crazy All-Star lineups when they allow fan voting to decide the starters. The added involvement helps build interest in the game, though, and the voters did a pretty good job this time around.
There were no completely outlandish selections, which puts both the American and National Leagues in good shape for the early innings. Of course, that's important because the exhibition game counts toward deciding home-field advantage for the World Series.
This year's All-Star Game, which is the 85th Midsummer Classic, will take place from Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The marquee clash is scheduled for Tuesday, July 15 at 8 p.m. ET, and it will air on Fox.
|AL Fan Voting Winners|
|Catcher||Matt Wieters||Baltimore Orioles|
|1st Base||Miguel Cabrera||Detroit Tigers|
|2nd Base||Robinson Cano||Seattle Mariners|
|Shortstop||Derek Jeter||New York Yankees|
|3rd Base||Josh Donaldson||Oakland Athletics|
|Outfield||Jose Bautista||Toronto Blue Jays|
|Outfield||Mike Trout||Los Angeles Angels|
|Outfield||Adam Jones||Baltimore Orioles|
|Designated Hitter||Nelson Cruz||Baltimore Orioles|
|Final Vote||Chris Sale||Chicago White Sox|
Unfortunately, after a strong start to the season, Matt Wieters has been sidelined since the middle of May due to an elbow injury. He will be replaced in the lineup by Salvador Perez of the Kansas City Royals.
The headliner of the AL squad is Derek Jeter. The longtime Yankees captain is following in the footsteps of Mariano Rivera by enjoying a farewell tour while continuing to put up solid stats. Of course, the pick was more sentimental than based on numbers.
Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News passed along comments from the shortstop, who appreciates the chance to play in one more All-Star Game:
It feels good. All-Star Games are fun. I'm happy I get the opportunity to come back here. It'll be special for me. It'll be the last one for me, so I'm glad I have the opportunity to go.
Back in the day, Jeter had to battle Alex Rodriguez and Nomar Garciaparra for the starting shortstop spot in the AL. There wasn't that much competition this year, which means nobody had to get snubbed just to get him in the lineup.
He wasn't the top vote-getter in the league, though. That honor went to Jose Bautista, who lead all players in votes received. The Blue Jays outfielder has an on-base percentage over .400 and is on pace for around 30 home runs and 100 runs batted in.
ESPN Stats & Info notes it's not the first time he's garnered the most fan votes:
Having Canada on his side certainly helps with that. There's no doubt he deserves a spot on the team, though.
As for the final vote, Chris Sale edged out a strong group of fellow starting pitchers to get a spot on the roster. The fact an ace with an ERA only slightly above 2.00 and a WHIP below 0.90 didn't make the initial roster shows how much pitching depth there is in the AL.
|NL Fan Voting Winners|
|Catcher||Yadier Molina||St. Louis Cardinals|
|1st Base||Paul Goldschmidt||Arizona Diamondbacks|
|2nd Base||Chase Utley||Philadelphia Phillies|
|Shortstop||Troy Tulowitzki||Colorado Rockies|
|3rd Base||Aramis Ramirez||Milwaukee Brewers|
|Outfield||Andrew McCutchen||Pittsburgh Pirates|
|Outfield||Carlos Gomez||Milwaukee Brewers|
|Outfield||Yasiel Puig||Los Angeles Dodgers|
|Final Vote||Anthony Rizzo||Chicago Cubs|
Just like in the junior circuit, there's a swap at catcher due to injury. Yadier Molina is dealing with a thumb ailment, which opened the door for Jonathan Lucroy of the Milwaukee Brewers to get added to the starting lineup.
While the NL infield features some MVP candidates in Paul Goldschmidt and Troy Tulowitzki, the thing that immediately jumps off the page is the outfield. The amount of talent and athleticism is off the charts, led by reigning MVP Andrew McCutchen.
MLB even noted the trio's star power:
The final vote in the NL fell in favor of Anthony Rizzo. The rising star is already getting close to surpassing his career high of home runs (23), which shows he's finally starting to reach the sky-high potential the Cubs have been waiting on.
Fred Mitchell of the Chicago Tribune provided remarks from the first baseman, who was especially thankful for the people who helped create buzz around the vote:
I thanked all of the front office and the people who were working behind the scenes to pump it up and promote it. I am just very, very appreciative. My family's ecstatic. We have come a long way, all together.
Given his status as the final member of the roster, he could end up coming to the plate in a key situation at the end of the game. If that's the case, the NL should like its chances.
Ultimately, very little separates the two sides, which should always be the case in an All-Star Game. Although both starting lineups feature plenty of star power, the game has been trending toward the pitchers in recent years.
Because of that, it wouldn't be at all surprising to see a low-scoring game decided by one big hit in the late innings by a player like the aforementioned Rizzo. It should make for another entertaining Midsummer Classic.