The long holiday weekend might be over, but Major League Baseball's All-Star fireworks haven't gone off just yet.The starting position players for the 87th All-Star Game presented by MasterCard, set for July 12 at Petco Park in San Diego, will be revealed on the Esurance All-Star Selection Show at 7
The long holiday weekend might be over, but Major League Baseball's All-Star fireworks haven't gone off just yet.
The starting position players for the 87th All-Star Game presented by MasterCard, set for July 12 at Petco Park in San Diego, will be revealed on the Esurance All-Star Selection Show at 7 ET tonight on ESPN, prior to the broadcast of the Pirates-Cardinals game.
And after the 2016 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote participants are announced tonight -- with voting begining immediately -- MLB Network will announce the winners in each league on Friday at 4 p.m. ET.
That means All-Stars will be hitting the rosters of the National and American Leagues from all angles: the Esurance All-Star Game Ballot that fans have been ringing up to the tune of 35 submissions per user account, the partisan clicking to come in support of the five Final Vote contenders, and the additional selections made by the combination of the "Player Ballot" peer voting and the personal choices of NL manager Terry Collins and AL skipper Ned Yost.
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In other words, it's the midsummer moment we've all been waiting for, and it's happening in the week ahead.
"Going to the All-Star Game means a lot to us," said Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz. "When the fans pick you, it's because they want to see you play."
As of the final online ballot posted June 27, Ortiz was running away with the voting for the AL designated hitter spot, and it's only fitting. Not only is Ortiz having a terrific year at the plate, but he has said that the 2016 season will be the final one in his great career.
But for all the intrigue lacking in the voting for the AL DH position, there are still quite a few starting positions in the upcoming Midsummer Classic that are up for grabs.
Take the battle behind the plate in the NL, for example. As of the last update, Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina led with 1,568,930 votes, but Buster Posey of the Giants was right behind him at 1,563,800. And it wouldn't be wise to discount the chances of Nationals backstop Wilson Ramos, whose breakout season at the plate had him as a legitimate dark-horse contender with 1,282,287 votes.
Elsewhere in the NL, the voting seems to be echoing one of the storylines of the summer -- that the Cubs have been dominant from Opening Day until now. As of the final update, the NL Central leaders had voting leads at first base (Anthony Rizzo), second base (Ben Zobrist), shortstop (Addison Russell), third base (Kris Bryant) and in the outfield (Dexter Fowler).
"I'm happy for our guys -- it's great for the organization," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "It will elevate their game. It's exciting for everybody. It's exciting for the players, Cubs fans and the city. You have to believe the ratings will be high in Chicago on that particular night. I know I'll be watching."
He won't be the only one.
Fans of the AL will be rooting on their preferred selections, too, and the final update tallies have set up results in tonight's big reveal with the potential to surprise and or not surprise at all.
Mike Trout of the Angels, for example, has won the last two All-Star Game MVP awards and is heading into the week ahead with a commanding lead in the voting for those three slots. Trout had 2,972,582 votes, with Boston teammates Jackie Bradley Jr. (2,184,884) and Mookie Betts (1,915,637) behind him.
"I take pride in my game and to be an All-Star is a humbling feeling," Trout said at last year's game. "It's an honor and it's fun. It's for the fans."
Trout looks like a shoo-in to play in the game, but there's still potential drama ahead with the selection of the rest of the Junior Circuit roster.
Third base is a power-packed position, with the voting battle likely coming down to Manny Machado of the Orioles, who led as of the final update with 2,196,732 tallies, and reigning AL MVP Josh Donaldson of the Blue Jays behind him at 1,590,183.
Jose Altuve of the Astros held a comfortable lead at second base, his 2,186,949 votes well ahead of second-place Robinson Cano of the Mariners' 1,276,010.
Elsewhere around the diamond, Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts was looking good atop the AL voting standings with 2,825,025 votes and a pair of Royals (Eric Hosmer at first base, Salvador Perez behind the plate) were the ones to beat at their positions.
Perez, in fact, has gotten more fan love than any player in the Major Leagues. His 3,754,594 tallies as of the final update posting put him in a position to be the coveted overall vote leader.
But none of this becomes official until tonight, and even after we find out the 33 players for each roster, there will be suspense in picking the 34th. The selection show will end with the announcement of the five Final Vote nominees from each league. Now in its 15th season with nearly 600 million votes cast, the Final Vote will take place exclusively at MLB.com, club sites and mobile devices and will conclude at 4 p.m. ET on Friday.
On Tuesday, July 12, watch the 2016 All-Star Game presented by MasterCard live on FOX, as well as MLB.TV Premium (for authenticated subscribers), and during the game, visit MLB.com to submit your choice for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet via the 2016 MLB All-Star Game MVP Vote.
The 87th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 160 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB.com, MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB.