CHICAGO -- Chris Sale stands as one of the best pitchers in the American League.
If the 8-1 record, 2.16 ERA, 96 strikeouts and 60 hits allowed over 87 1/3 innings and 13 starts don't prove that to be true, then just watch the left-hander in action for a start or two.
But in order for Sale to be honored with his third straight AL All-Star appearance, he will have to get there by way of MLB.com's Final Vote. Sale's road will not be an easy one, with fellow standout pitchers Garrett Richards (Angels), Rick Porcello (Tigers), Dallas Keuchel (Astros) and Corey Kluber (Indians) on that AL ballot.
Sale becomes the record 11th all-time Final Vote candidate for the White Sox. They have run winning campaigns in 2005 with Scott Podsednik, in '06 with A.J. Pierzynski and in '11 with Paul Konerko. The theme of this year's campaign is #TargetSale, and All-Star selections Jose Abreu and Alexei Ramirez already began the process Sunday by sporting hats urging fans to vote for their teammate.
"It will be fun," Sale said. "We've already started to throw around some ideas. It'll be fun to kind of see -- I remember doing it with Jake [Peavy] in 2012, kind of making fun of it and having a good time with it, so it should be a fun process to go through."
Don't look for self-promotion or even online votes to come from Sale, who said he'll leave that part of the Final Vote procedure to the White Sox front office political machine and his friends and family. Manager Robin Ventura started taking up his ace's cause early on Sunday.
"If they've got a big lefty coming up for the National League, I know who I'd want pitching," said Ventura of Sale. "The game means a lot now as far as having home-field advantage for the American League. I know I'd have him there in case there was a big spot in there for a lefty."
Fans began 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 immediately following the announcement of the All-Star rosters on Sunday night. Fans can cast their votes from a list of five players from each league until the winners will be announced after the voting concludes on Thursday at 3 p.m. CT.
In addition to the web, fans can use their mobile phones to cast votes via the mobile web at MLB.com/vote or via text message. To receive the All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Experian mobile ballot, text the word "VOTE" to 89269. To vote for a specific player, fans can text the choice to 89269. Example: Text "A5" to vote for Sale. Standard message and data rates may apply. Text "STOP" to end and "HELP" for information. Mobile voting in Canada also is available and fans should text their choices to 101010.
For the third consecutive year, the All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote will include social balloting participation, as Twitter support from the 10 candidates' fans over the last six hours of balloting will count toward their final vote totals. From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday, any tweet that includes a designated player hashtag (#TargetSale) will be tabulated as part of the official vote total used to determine the winners. Fans will be able to follow @MLB for the latest standings updates over the course of the entire four-day voting period.
NL #FinalVote hashtags
Casey McGehee: #VoteHitsMcGehee (N1)
Justin Morneau: #VoteMorneau (N2)
Anthony Rendon: #VoteRendon (N3)
Anthony Rizzo: #VoteRizzo (N4)
Justin Upton: #VoteJUp (N5)
AL #FinalVote hashtags
Keuchel: #VoteKeuchel (A1)
Kluber: #VoteKluber (A2)
Porcello: #PickRick (A3)
Richards: #VoteGRich (A4)
Sale: #TargetSale (A5)
Here are five reasons why Sale should win the AL Final Vote and a spot on the AL All-Star Game roster:
1. Lefties stand little chance. Many of the left-handed hitters in the game will list Sale as one of the most uncomfortable at-bats around. The Mariners started six left-handed hitters in a complete-game loss to Sale on Friday and found that to be true. Sale has not given up an extra-base hit to a left-handed hitter this season and could make life awfully tough on the NL opposition, even in matchup situations.
2. He's healthy. The primary reason as to why Sale wasn't an outright All-Star selection centers on the 32 games and six starts he missed this season due to a flexor muscle strain in his left arm. A healthy Sale has allowed 14 earned runs over his 60 innings pitched upon return to the mound.
3. He can handle pressure. Sale already has worked three scoreless innings in two previous All-Star Games. Sox, dealing with the bright lights and hoopla of the Midsummer Classic won't be an issue. None of the other four choices have pitched in an All-Star Game.
4. He can get the big (and little) strikeout. Sale already has 14 career games with double-digit strikeouts and he has accomplished that feat in just 72 career starts. Sale certainly can get the ground-ball outs, but he is arguably the most accomplished strikeout pitcher of the five, which could be important in tight late-game situations.
5. He's a starter and a reliever. Sale has been a dominant starter for the past three years, but before his entrance into the rotation, Sale made 79 career appearances out of the bullpen. He should someday start an All-Star Game, but in '14, he'll have no problem coming in for an inning or two late.
The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again have fans help choose 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 and via Twitter in the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote Sponsored by Pepsi, and their collective voice will represent 20 percent of the overall vote that determines the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
MLB.TV Premium subscribers, for the first time, will be able to live stream the All-Star Game via MLB.TV through FOX's participating video providers. Access will be available across more than 400 platforms that support MLB.TV, including the award-winning MLB.com At Bat app. 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.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin.