Stunning start has Puig among Final Vote nominees
Five relievers on ballot in AL; voting runs until Thursday at 4 p.m. ET
When it comes to Yasiel Puig, it seems that everyone has an opinion.
For the past week or so, we've heard plenty of baseball figures putting in their two cents as to whether Puig deserves to be on the All-Star team. Managers, media, fellow ballplayers … you name 'em, they all seem to have a take on the latest hot topic to sweep through Major League Baseball's chat lines.
Guess what? Ultimately, it's not up to them. It'll be up to you.
Yes, you. Fittingly, Puig's All-Star fate will be decided by the fans this week, during the frenetic race to the finish also known as the Final Vote.
Puig is one of five National League players eligible for the 2013 All-Star Game Final Vote sponsored by freecreditscore.com, where fans select the final two spots on the All-Star team, one in the National League, the other in the American League.
Joining Puig in the NL competition are Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond, Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman, Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and Giants outfielder Hunter Pence.
In the American League, the pool of five includes all right-handed pitchers: Steve Delabar (Blue Jays), David Robertson (Yankees), Koji Uehara (Red Sox), Tanner Scheppers (Rangers) and Joaquin Benoit (Tigers).
Now in its 12th year, the 2013 All-Star Game Final Vote sponsored by freecreditscore.com gives baseball fans around the world the opportunity to select the final player on each All-Star team. Balloting began immediately following Saturday's Major League All-Star Selection Show presented by Taco Bell and ends Thursday at 4 p.m. ET. The winners will be announced on MLB.com shortly thereafter.
Since making his Major League debut with the Dodgers on June 3, Puig has captured national attention with a hard-nosed style of play fortified by offensive production that has a chance to prove historic by season's end. Entering Saturday's competition, Puig had hit safely in 26 of 30 games, batting .420 while slugging .706. He's the third player in history to reach 50 hits in his first 30 Major League games, joining only Joe DiMaggio and Roy Weatherly, both of whom accomplished the feat in 1936.
Puig's presence has made a difference in the standings, as well. The Dodgers were 23-32 and in last place in the NL West before he was called up, 18-12 and tied for second place after.
That doesn't mean Puig is the only worthy Final Vote candidate. Gonzalez, his Dodgers teammate, is no stranger to the All-Star Game, having played on four prior to this season. He's currently providing his usual steady offense, having compiled a .300 average with 13 homers through 82 games.
The NL West is well-represented in Final Vote balloting. Pence, who joined the Giants at the Trade Deadline last year, is hitting .272 on the year with 13 homers. He hit his stride in May, logging 35 hits in 106 at-bats for a .330 average.
Shifting to the NL East, two worthy Final Vote candidates have emerged from that division: Desmond is hitting .281 on the year and has 90 hits, 40 of which were for extra bases. Freeman is slugging .468 to go with a .309 batting average.
One thing is for sure in the AL: whoever wins it will help Jim Leyland's team out of the bullpen. All right-handed pitchers, this pool of five boasts some of the lowest reliever ERAs in the league: Benoit (1.78), Delabar (1.58), Scheppers (1.48) and Uehara (1.95). Robertson has provided stability for the Yankees' bullpen, especially since the beginning of May, turning in 14 scoreless outings in 16 appearances.
Despite his impressive numbers, Uehara was surprised to see his name on the list.
"I didn't think that I was in position to be even considered for the All-Star team," Uehara said. "So I don't know what to think."
What he was thinking before Saturday, apparently, was about what he would be doing as a non-All-Star during the break.
"I was going to book some tee times," Uehara said, adding that if he makes the team he will probably "explode with excitement."
Robertson, who was on the All-Star team in 2011, said he'd love to make a return trip.
"I feel excited and hopeful that I'll be selected to go to my second All-Star Game," Robertson said. "I know there are four other guys in the mix, but hopefully I can get enough votes. To be able to sit alongside Mariano [Rivera] in that bullpen in his final All-Star Game appearance would be an awfully special moment in my career. Yankees fans are the best, and I know that they will make every effort to send me to Queens."
There will be an extra treat for fans who participate in the Final Vote online. If you are not a current MLB.TV subscriber (MLB.TV or MLB.TV Premium), you are eligible to receive a 14-day free trial of MLB.TV from July 12-26. If you are a current MLB.TV subscriber (MLB.TV or MLB.TV Premium), you will receive a 15-percent discount to the MLB.com Shop. MLB.com will send an email on July 12 to all Final Vote voters with instructions on how to redeem the applicable offer.
Mobile voting in the U.S. and Canada is open to everyone. In the U.S., to receive the 2013 All-Star Game Final Vote sponsored by freecreditscore.com mobile ballot, text the word "VOTE" to 89269. To vote for a specific player, simply text message your choice using the codes below to 89269 (Example: Text "A1" to vote for Joaquin Benoit). In Canada, fans should text their choices to 101010. Standard message and data rates may apply. To vote for your player via text message, use the codes below.
A1 - Joaquin Benoit, Detroit
A2 - Steve Delabar, Toronto
A3 - David Robertson, New York Yankees
A4 - Tanner Scheppers, Texas
A5 - Koji Uehara, Boston
N1 - Ian Desmond, Washington
N2 - Freddie Freeman, Atlanta
N3 - Adrian Gonzalez, Los Angeles
N4 - Hunter Pence, San Francisco
N5 - Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles
For the second consecutive year, the 2013 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by freecreditscore.com (#FinalVote) will include a social balloting element as Twitter support from the candidates' fans over the last six hours of balloting will count toward their final totals. From 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. ET on Thursday, any tweet that includes a designated player hashtag will be tabulated as part of the overall vote total used to determine the AL and NL winners. Fans may follow @MLB on the popular social networking service for the latest standings updates in advance of the 4 p.m. ET balloting deadline.
The fun doesn't end there, however. Fans, having already decided the starters and final player on each team, once again will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevrolet via the 2013 All-Star Game MVP Vote on MLB.com during the All-Star Game.
The 84th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM also will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.