DETROIT -- Is this the year Miguel Cabrera finally gets voted to start in the All-Star Game?
Is a Triple Crown and an MVP award enough at last?
With this week's release of Major League Baseball's All-Star ballot, the question and the debate are about to come up again: What more does Cabrera have to do?
He has the resume of a future Hall of Famer, but only one All-Star Game start on it, and that was as an injury replacement for Justin Morneau at first base in 2010.
For four years, he was the odd man out in a crowded pack of elite first American League first basemen. His move across the infield last year was expected to bring the side benefit of a smaller field to beat for an All-Star nod, but an outstanding start and a wave of fan balloting in Texas helped Adrian Beltre hold onto his spot at the hot corner.
Now, Cabrera is coming off a historic campaign and a vault into superstardom that makes him much more than a Detroit choice or a Venezuelan choice. He'll still have to outdraw Beltre at the ballot box, but he has a much higher profile in his favor than he did a year ago. Whether or not one believes the All-Star Game should reward a previous season's accomplishments, Cabrera has a case as the best hitter in the game today.
The last three AL MVPs have been in the All-Star lineup the next year, including Justin Verlander starting in last year's Midsummer Classic. Though recent years have had notable exceptions -- Joey Votto lost out to Albert Pujols two years ago, while Dustin Pedroia went from 2008 AL MVP to '09 All-Star reserve -- Cabrera's season should put him in a different category.
Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- online or via your mobile device -- using the 2013 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot until July 4 at 11:59 p.m. ET.
Fans may submit 25 online ballots during the voting period, but can also earn a one-time bonus of 10 additional online ballots. To access these additional online ballots, you must be logged into your MLB.com account when you submit any online ballot. If you do not have an MLB.com account, visit mlb.com and register in accordance with the enrollment instructions for a free MLB.com account.
Paper balloting at Comerica Park begins Thursday and runs through June 9.
While Cabrera tries to get a long-awaited starting nod, Prince Fielder will be trying to defend his at first base. Torii Hunter will try to turn his fast start into a return to the starting lineup, though fellow outfielder Austin Jackson has a case of his own as he continues to emerge among the top all-around center fielders in the league.
Other Tigers on the ballot include Alex Avila, who won the start at catcher two years ago, second baseman Omar Infante, shortstop Jhonny Peralta, outfielder Andy Dirks and designated hitter Victor Martinez.
Fans can also once again participate in the Home Run Derby Fan Poll. Fans will have the opportunity to select three players in each league whom they would most like to see participate in the Home Run Derby. The 2013 Home Run Derby -- part of Gatorade All-Star Workout Day -- will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN HD, ESPN Deportes and ESPN Radio in the United States beginning at 8 p.m. ET on July 15.
The 2013 American League and National League All-Star teams will be unveiled on July 7 on the 2013 MLB All-Star Game Selection Show, televised nationally on TBS. Baseball fans around the world will then be able to select the final player on each team via the All-Star Game Final Vote sponsored by freecreditscore.com on MLB.com.
And the voting doesn't end there. The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again have fans participating in the official voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com via the 2013 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote, and their voice will represent 20 percent of the official vote determining the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
The 2013 All-Star Game will be played at Citi Field on July 16. Come to MLB.com for extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.
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 will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason.