Last-minute All-Star Game voting advice
Come on, Astros fans. Get out to Minute Maid Park and cast those votes. You could get a free Chick-fil-A sandwich if enough of you vote at the game or, should you prefer to cast the maximum 35 votes for Jose Altuve in the privacy of your home, you could win a $1,000 shopping spree with the reigning batting champ.
Whatever it takes, whichever team you root for, vote for Altuve as often as possible between now and 11:59 p.m. ET Thursday, when voting for the All-Star Game's starting lineup ends.
Altuve isn't the obvious choice at second base in the American League if you base it solely by stats -- Jason Kipnis and Brian Dozier also have legitimate cases -- it's just that he isn't Omar Infante, the .233-hitting Kansas City second baseman whose popularity with voters has caused a firestorm about Royals fans stuffing the ballot box.
Altuve, who is hitting .292 and cracked his sixth homer in the Astros' win over the Royals on Monday, is a great player on possibly baseball's most fascinating team, and if you're looking for a place to put your ASG support, give it to Altuve. While Kipnis has a good case, a vote for him is essentially as good as another vote for Infante at this point, as he's barely received half as many votes to date, making it seemingly impossible for him to catch up.
Altuve, on the other hand, was only 231,708 votes behind at Monday's final update. He can catch up.
And if Altuve does, that will provide a ray of hope for Dozier, Tampa Bay's Logan Forsythe and the Tigers' Ian Kinsler. They deserve consideration but probably won't get it if Infante, a bottom-of-the-order hitter for Ned Yost, wins the fan vote.
Altuve carries the torch for all second basemen other than Infante. Here's hoping that enough of you vote for him to clear the decks for the AL's most deserving second baseman and spare us all from the continued white noise about the process.
Here's some more last-minute advice for All-Star voters:
• Vote for Reds third baseman Todd Frazier. The Cardinals' Matt Carpenter leads him by only 62,980 votes, and both Frazier and the Rockies' Nolan Arenado are more deserving. Using WAR to determine the most deserving, Arenado gets the call by the tiniest of margin over Frazier. Others high on the WAR leaderboard who are not leading voting at their position are Brandon Crawford, A.J. Pollock, Stephen Vogt, Xander Bogaerts, Kevin Kiermaier and Kipnis.
• Vote for Nelson Cruz. The Mariners' DH moved past the Royals' Kendrys Morales in the most recent voting update but leads him by 204,905. That lead could vanish as quick as a short stack of ribs if Kansas City fans keep voting like they have been. Morales wasn't a part of the Royals' 2014 AL championship and his 1.0 WAR is behind guys like Billy Burns, Robinson Chirinos, Joey Butler and Marcus Semien. It's gonna get complicated if the fan vote somehow puts him and Infante into the back of the pickup trucks for the All-Star Game parade.
• Vote for the Cards' Matt Holliday. No, he's not one of the three most deserving National League outfielders (he's currently on the DL with a strained quad but could be back by the All-Star Game), but he -- yes, like Carpenter -- represents the best team in the game. And, more importantly, Holliday is a far better choice than the Giants' Nori Aoki, who is fourth among outfielders. Andrew McCutchen trails Holliday by 877,307, so it doesn't seem likely he can close that gap.
• Write in Justin Turner, even if you can't do it at third base because you're voting for Frazier. Turner has played all over the infield for the Dodgers, so write him in at second, short or first. It won't impact the voting in any way, but it'll feel good to do it. Turner deserves the love for his .979 OPS, if not also for that glorious red beard.
• Give Vogt a vote. Despite what WAR suggests, there's nothing wrong with Salvador Perez being the AL's starting catcher. He's likely to be one of four Royals in the starting lineup (along with Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain and Alex Gordon) and that's fine, as it represents the way Kansas City plays -- as a team of blue-collar contributors, not flashy mega-stars. But the Athletics' Vogt is having a monster season (.304, 13 homers and an AL-leading 53 RBIs) and deserves to finish second to Perez.
• Ignore Paul Goldschmidt and vote for Anthony Rizzo. Goldschmidt is going to be the NL's starting first baseman, as he should be, but the Cubs' Rizzo should not be fifth in voting, behind sidelined Cardinal Matt Adams. Rizzo ranks ahead of Joey Votto and Adrian Gonzalez in WAR, but apparently Chicago fans have been too busy to vote.
• Help Crawford close the gap on Jhonny Peralta. The Cardinals' shortstop seems secure, leading Crawford by almost 3 million votes, and he'll look totally in place in Cincinnati. But the Giants' Crawford is a great player having a breakout season. He deserves as many votes as he can get.