After years of snubs in All-Star balloting, Miguel Cabrera finally broke through last year when he won the starting nod at third base. If he's going to repeat, he's going to have to do it at first.
It was a positional move meant for the long-term health of his career. It might not be much help for his All-Star standing.
Major League Baseball released its annual All-Star ballot on Friday, complete with Cabrera at first base after the last two seasons at third. He joins a field that includes reigning former teammate Prince Fielder, reigning home-run champion and American League leading vote-getter Chris Davis, three-time MVP Albert Pujols, former MVP and three-time batting champion Joe Mauer, White Sox rookie slugger Jose Abreu, Red Sox hero Mike Napoli and Yankees slugger Mark Teixeira.
Even for the reigning two-time AL MVP, that's a challenging vote to win. He'll get some help from in-stadium balloting at Comerica Park, which begins at the start of the next homestand May 5, and runs through June 18. In the end, however, Cabrera will need a heavy amount of support from the online ballot, which is now available.
Others on the Tigers ballot include second baseman Ian Kinsler, who has made the All-Star team as a reserve every even-numbered year since 2008. His solid start gives him some momentum for early votes amidst a field that includes Boston's Dustin Pedroia and Seattle's Robinson Cano.
Other candidates include rookie Nick Castellanos at third base, Victor Martinez at designated hitter, Alex Avila behind the plate, and an outfield trio of Torii Hunter, Austin Jackson and Rajai Davis.
"Obviously, it would mean a lot to come back to my hometown and play in the All-Star Game," Hunter said. "This is where I grew up. Of course, it's Target Field -- I didn't get to play here. To see everything in place and knowing there's an All-Star Game, of course that's one of my goals, to get here and play here. I don't know how much longer I'm going to be playing and it might be my only opportunity."
The Tigers can already rule out one position. Detroit released Alex Gonzalez on Sunday, but not with enough time to change the ballot, so he's listed at shortstop.
Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- online or on a mobile device -- using the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian until Thursday, July 3, at 11:59 p.m. ET. The 2014 All-Star Game will be played at Target Field on Tuesday, July 15.
Fans may submit up to 25 online ballots, but they 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, register on the site in accordance with the enrollment instructions for a free MLB.com account.
Fans this year once again can participate in the Home Run Derby Fan Poll. Fans will have the opportunity to select three players in each league who they would most like to see participate in the Home Run Derby. The 2014 Home Run Derby will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN HD, ESPN Deportes and ESPN Radio in the United States beginning at 8 p.m. ET on Monday, July 14.
The 2014 American League and National League All-Star teams will be unveiled on the 2014 MLB All-Star Game Selection Show during the weekend of July 5-6, with further details to follow on MLB.com. Immediately following the announcement of the AL and NL All-Star rosters, fans can begin voting to select the final player for each league's 34-man roster via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Experian. Fans will cast their votes from a list of five players from each league over the balloting period.
The voting doesn't end there. The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again have fans participating in the 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 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote Sponsored by Pepsi, and their voice will represent 20 percent of the overall vote that determines the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.
The 85th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX, 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.