As you would have become accustomed to, every year for the MLB All-Star Game there are five players from each league denoted as ‘Final Vote’ candidates. Essentially they position players who were unlucky to make the All-Star roster, and whose teams campaign constantly for you to vote for them.
The player who finishes first from each league in this voting will always go to the MLB All-Star Game, but those who finish second and third generally aren’t in a terrible spot either because they may be called in if a current All-Star is injured or decides not to participate in the event. There are a variety of reasons why players may choose not to go to the All-Star festivities, mostly because they want a bit of rest.
Of this year’s American League candidates, three are from the powerhouse American League East. It’s comprised of two second baseman, a third baseman and two outfielders. With that, let’s take a look at who you can vote for.
Ian Kinsler (Tigers)
.288 AVG, 16 HR, 17 2B, 52 RBI, 8 SB
Why you should vote for him: Kinsler has been one of the most consistent second baseman in the game for years now and would be making his fifth All-Star appearance should he be selected.
The Tigers have a lot of big hitters in their lineup with names like Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, J.D. Martinez and Nick Castellanos all capable of putting the ball in the seats. Kinsler is a dangerous threat hitting atop the lineup because he does a lot of things well: he can hit for power, get on base, steal bases, drive runs in and play great defence.
He actually leads the Tigers with 52 RBIs, a number that also places him second among AL second baseman. In terms of WAR, this 34-year-old is second on the team behind Michael Fulmer.
Dustin Pedroia (Red Sox)
.308 AVG, 8 HR, 20 2B, 34 RBI, 5 SB
Why you should vote for him: If David Ortiz is the heart and soul of the Red Sox clubhouse, Pedroia is the heartbeat that keeps it alive. We’ve seen this gritty second baseman play through injury, make unbelievable plays in the field and put his body on the line for the sake of trying to help his team win.
A few years ago, he and Robinson Cano were the best second baseman in the American League. Both have now been surpassed by the rise of Jose Altuve, but both remain really good players on both sides of the ball. If the game is close in the late innings, you want to have a guy like Pedroia coming off the bench because he’s going to make something happen at the plate or pull of a game-saving play in the field.
He has to be one of the most enjoyable baseball players to watch because of his grit and determination that is on display day in and day out.
Evan Longoria (Rays)
.277 AVG, .846 OPS, 18 HR, 23 2B, 45 RBI
Why you should vote for him: If Dustin Pedroia is the heartbeat of the Red Sox clubhouse, then Longoria is what makes the Rays clubhouse tick. No one has played for the franchise longer than this guy who is now in his ninth MLB season. 2016 has by no means been his best, but the now 30-year-old Longoria is starting to produce the type of numbers that made him an All-Star for three straight seasons between 2008 and 2010.
He’s on track to have more RBIs than he’s had each of the last four years while his extra-base numbers are going to rise drastically compared with what Longoria did a year ago. Playing in such a small market is going to make life very difficult for Longoria to make the team but he’s established himself well enough in the American League that perhaps fans of the opposition will give him an opportunity.
Michael Saunders (Blue Jays)
.293 AVG, .914 OPS, 15 HR, 24 2B, 38 RBI
Why you should vote for him: If there’s one player that has surprised more than anyone else in the first half, it has to be Michael Saunders. At 29, it seemed as though his best years might have been past him but he’s been able to really rejuvenate his career while being the third outfielder that Toronto were searching for.
Saunders was expected to be a significant piece of the Blue Jays lineup a year ago but he suffered a knee injury during spring training and was limited to just nine games during the first two months of the season prior to being shut down. He’s come back to enjoy a career year and will likely surpass his numbers from a solid 2012 campaign in Seattle. His .293 average is the highest of his eight-year career while on-base and slugging percentages have followed suit.
If there’s anyone most deserving of winning this final vote, it’s Saunders hands down. Having never previously received All-Star status, there’s really no time like the present for this Canadian.
George Springer (Astros)
.265 AVG, .842 OPS, 19 HR, 12 2B, 50 RBI, 6 SB
Why you should vote for him: At 26, Springer is the youngest of our five Final Vote candidates. He may be young, but that doesn’t mean that the Astros outfielder is any less qualified to participate in the All-Star festivities in San Diego.
Though his average won’t blow anyone away, Springer has continued to get on base at a strong rate while hitting for plenty of power. Having played only 102 games in 2015, he’s already topped his 16 home runs and 41 runs batted in while the doubles should soon follow. He’s one of the brightest young players in the game and is a very exciting defender capable of playing either center field or right field. He didn’t feature much in the fan voting but Springer would certainly be deserving of a spot on the AL roster.