The All-Star Game is a chance for rising young stars and veteran players to make their marks on the sport of baseball.
Every year, there's a slew of deserving players who don't make the cut to the Midsummer Classic, and this year will be no different.
Sometimes it is a result of an unknown name being beaten out by a superstar who was less deserving but more noticeable on the fan ballot. Other times the "every team must have one representative" rule causes a fringe-at-best Pittsburgh Pirate All-Star to take the place of a no-doubt candidate of another franchise.
Here's a list of 15 Major League Baseball players who may not make the cut for the 82nd All-Star Game at Chase Field in Phoenix--even if they have more than earned the honor.
Ryan Roberts is perhaps the MVP of the Diamondbacks so far in 2011 but may be overshadowed by bigger names on the team such as infielder Kelly Johnson, Ian Kennedy, Justin Upton or Chris Young.
Arizona is on the upswing in the National League West, thanks in large part to the very solid play of Roberts. The hosts of the All-Star Game should have more than one representative in the game this year, and if they do, it should be Roberts.
Zach Britton has been the bright spot in the rotation of an Orioles team finding their identity in the American League East. He's currently 5-2 with a 2.35 ERA and is making a strong case as the ace of the staff.
It still remains to be seen whether or not his performance this year is just a one-and-done case, but he's relatively unknown and quietly making his way to the top. Jeremy Guthrie may technically be the No. 1 starter for the Orioles, but given a chance, Britton could impress a lot of people.
In the absence of Alex Rios, Jed Lowrie has found his groove at shortstop for the Red Sox. He's currently hitting .310 with three home runs and 21 RBIs in 145 at-bats in 2011.
Unfortunately, with names like Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Kevin Youkilis on the same team, and shortstops like Derek Jeter and Reid Brignac and Alexei Ramirez in the same league, Lowrie could easily be left off the list of players packing their bags for Phoenix.
He may not have Cy Young stuff, but the Cubs definitely upgraded when they acquired Garza from the Tampa Bay Rays. Garza, who threw the Rays' first-ever no-hitter last year, is 2-4 with a 3.72 ERA.
What's possibly most impressive about Garza is his 68 strikeouts, as he has been able to limit damage while his WHIP rests above his typical average.
In a league with top-notch pitching, however, it's doubtful that Garza will make the National League All-Star team, and unfortunate he won't. He's definitely deserving of an honor he's never experienced.
One year removed from being snubbed from the 2010 All-Star Game, Joey Votto followed up by winning the National League MVP--an award he rightfully deserved. This year, however, it'll be tough to make the 2011 All-Star Game in a division full of top-tier first basemen, let alone a league full of them.
Between Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder and Ryan Howard, Votto may not make the All-Star game in spite of his current .333 average, six home runs and 28 RBI.
Last year's omission should be enough to open plenty of eyes to the fact that Votto is a must-add to the 2011 roster, but history has taught us never to expect rational thought during an All-Star selection process.
Todd Helton was once one of the premier infielders in all of baseball. In his heydey, he could keep pace if not exceed many of the best players in the game.
Recently, the health of Helton's back has been a roadblock to returning to his glory days. This year, however, Helton has seen a dramatic increase in his performance.
A new spring training complex in Scottsdale and an offseason regiment of P90X has Helton back in the swing of things hitting .305 with six home runs and 21 RBI, but with all the premier first basemen in the National League today, it will be hard for Helton to make it to this year's All-Star Game.
Despite nearly throwing his second career no-hitter, and amassing an ERA of 3.02 and a record of 3-1, Anibal Sanchez will once again be in the shadow of Josh Johnson when it comes to National League All-Star selections.
Sanchez has been dominant this year and has proven that start after start, but there is simply far too much star power in NL pitching staffs.
Between Johnson, Tim Lincecum, Roy Halladay, and many others, it is likely that he Sanchez will be overlooked for the 2011 NL roster.
Kansas City Royals relief pitcher Joakim Soria was an All-Star selection in the American League in 2008.
With a record of 3-1 and a 5.12 ERA, he does not yet deserve to return to the Midsummer Classic this year even if he is annually one of the best closers in MLB
With a league full of quality pitching, the question is will a quick turnaround get him there? If he can lower his ERA by July, the answer should be a yes, but the question of "will that be enough?" still remains.
Reasons why Angels second baseman Maicer Izturis should make the All-Star Game:
1) He's hitting .303 with three home runs and 13 RBI
2) He's playing with a slugger like Howie Kendrick and a similar player in Erick Aybar
3) He's helping to lead the Angels to within a half game of the AL West lead
Reasons why Angels second baseman Maicer Izturis won't make the All-Star Game:
1) He's only hitting .303 with three home runs and 13 RBI. Numbers that while good, won't get you on the All-Star team because of number two.
2) He's playing with a slugger like Howie Kendrick (.322, seven home runs, 18 RBI) and a very similar performer in Erick Aybar (.303, two home runs, 14 RBI)
Unfortunately for Izturis, as it stands now, Kendrick and Aybar look to be taken for the All-Star team over Izturis. It's sad because Izturis is having an All-Star-caliber year.
Corey Hart is having a very good year for the Brewers—a year that is very deserving of an All-Star bid.
The bad news for Hart (other than the fact it's hard to wear sunglasses at night if you play in a roofed stadium) is that with teammates like Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder and Yovani Gallardo, you have to have a year that's better than "very good" to make the All-Star team.
He may be overshadowed by many of his own team members, but hopefully he can sneak onto the 2011 roster regardless.
Russell Martin is reviving his career in the Bronx.
He may just have another All-Star year or two left in him, but he'll have to stay hot in order to do it, especially with Alex Avila having his own surprising breakout year in Detroit in 2011.
If he can, he should absolutely be selected for the game. If he doesn't, it's possible he'll shockingly be left off if fans vote for Joe Mauer as the starter--as they often do with injured and undeserving big-names.
Cameron Maybin has had a very good year in a Padres uniform so far. Hitting .265 with 5 HR, 15 RBI, 24 R and 7 SB, he's proven himself to be among the elite of National League center fielders. Given the fact that he's also only 24 years old, he's got plenty of time to improve.
No doubt he's one of the best young center fielders in the National League (see Dexter Fowler and Andrew McCutchen), but with a league full of outstanding outfielders, Maybin may be on the outside looking in in 2011.
Sanchez may just be the best player the San Francisco Giants acquired in recent years. Hitting .281 with two home runs and 16 RBI, Sanchez has proven himself to be one of the better infielders in the National League.
However, Sanchez may still be a year away from a breakout season and could find himself a year away from the All-Star Game.
John Jay may not be a starter for St. Louis yet, but that doesn't mean he's not ready to compete against some of the best in the game. In 86 at-bats this year (which is nothing to shake a stick at), he's hitting .326 with three home runs and 11 RBI.
He's proven himself against major league-caliber teams and should be given a shot at the next level. However, until he gets a chance at being a full-time starter, he won't get a chance at his first All-Star Game.
Matt Joyce is doing nothing but impressing as an outfielder for the Tampa Bay Rays.
With an average of .367, eight home runs and 26 RBI, it's hard not to notice his potential. Unfortunately for Joyce, the American League, and Major League Baseball for that matter, is full of quality outfielders.
This may mean that Joyce is still a few years away from being selected for the AL roster, but if he keeps producing like this, he'll be a very difficult name to keep off of the 2011 team.