We are in the final hours of voting in the Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot (voting ends at 11:59 p.m. ET Thursday), and the full list of American League and National League honorees and Final Vote candidates for the July 11 Midsummer Classic in Miami will be unveiled on Sunday night. It will be a slightly different arrangement this year, because while the fans still select the starters and the player ballots pick the first stash of backups and pitchers, manager selections -- always a bastion of complications and controversy -- are no more. The Commissioner's Office will round out the rosters.
But lest you think this will be the rare year in which peace and positivity reign and the AL and NL lists will be utterly unassailable, fear not! There will be snubs, and snubs aplenty!
With that in mind, this seems like a good time to celebrate position players -- some of whom will wind up making it to Miami, many of whom will not -- whose strong seasons you might have overlooked. The barometer here -- and the reason we're not including pitchers -- is guys who, for one reason or another, aren't listed as finalists (the top 15 in the outfield and top five for all other positions) in the latest ballot results, in most cases because they aren't even on the ballot.*
*Cody Bellinger is not a finalist because he's not on the ballot, but there's no point in including him here, because I'm reasonably certain you've noticed his season.
Here are 13 overlooked All-Star candidates:
Trey Mancini, 1B, Orioles
If this were a normal season -- i.e., if there weren't a 6-foot-7, 280-pound superstar named Aaron Judge in the Bronx and a multi-homer machine named Cody Bellinger out in L.A. -- we'd be talking about Mancini as the unheralded prospect on pace for 30 homers and carrying his club. He earned an Opening Day roster spot with the O's despite them not having a position for him and made the most of his limited starts in the outfield (a place he hadn't played before). Lately, though, he's had ample opportunities at first base on account of Chris Davis' oblique injury.
Rather than being exposed by the increased at-bats, Mancini has been elevated. The slugger has slashed .366/.404/.677 with seven homers, six doubles and a triple in June, boosting his overall weighted runs created plus (wRC+) to 147, or 47 percent better than league average.
Scooter Gennett, 2B, Reds
Well, obviously, when you go 5-for-5 with four homers in a single, out-of-nowhere night, that's going to inflate your season numbers. And so maybe that takes some of the shine off a wRC+ mark (139) identical to that of reigning NL MVP Kris Bryant. But don't dismiss Gennett as a total one-trick (or one-night) pony. Even if you could just magically erase that magic evening from his game log, he'd still be ringing in with a respectable .818 OPS that would be 54 points higher than he's logged in any full season in his career.
He's made some great plays in the field and he even hit this home run from his knee:
His year did not, in fact, begin and end on June 6.
Travis Shaw, 3B, Brewers
Even if Shaw were turning in another 89 OPS+, as he did last year, we'd be critiquing Boston's Tyler Thornburg trade, because Thornburg won't throw a pitch for them this season and third base has been an offensive wasteland for the Sox. Shaw, though, has only made Boston's end of that swap look worse, because he's been one of the most productive players at a loaded position, and he's done it for a Brew Crew club still surprisingly on top of the NL Central deep into the season.
Shaw's got a .294/.353/.565 slash, lodged right there between Bryant (.908) and Nolan Arenado (.892) on the third base OPS leaderboard. And to see him keep mashing while his newborn daughter recovers from open-heart surgery is nothing short of inspiring. Shaw might get squeezed by a deep position and his team's depth in quality candidates, but he's certainly had an All-Star start.
Ben Gamel, OF, Mariners
Another AL rookie overshadowed by the Judge phenomenon. Fellow rookie outfielder Mitch Haniger was looking like the steal of the offseason with his April performance, until he injured his oblique and missed about seven weeks. But Haniger's absence opened the door for Gamel to come up to the bigs and make what (again, in a Judge-free world) would be a pretty strong Rookie of the Year case.
And the Yankees could have had both guys! The Mariners sent the Yanks a couple rookie ball pitchers for Gamel last August, and they've watched Gamel emerge as a .338/.397/.481-slashing machine.
Marwin Gonzalez, UT, Astros
Among Astros with at least 200 plate appearances, the guy leading the best team in the American League in wRC+ is not Jose Altuve or Carlos Correa or George Springer (all of whom have a strong argument to start for the AL). It's Gonzalez. And Gonzalez has compiled his 162 mark while playing six different positions. You don't put together a World Series-caliber season without some unsung hero coming out of the woodwork, and that's what's happened to the Astros with Gonzalez this year.
That's kind of the point here. Gonzalez isn't a starting finalist because he's not on the ballot, and he's not on the ballot because where would you list him? Everywhere?
Justin Bour, 1B, Marlins
An incredible year at this position in the NL. Anthony Rizzo was already pretty wonderful before he became a leadoff wonder, Paul Goldschmidt is finally on a contending team and has taken his star-caliber talent to another level, Eric Thames was an April sensation after coming over from Korea, Ryan Zimmerman decided to have his best season at age 32, Freddie Freeman was doing MVP-type things before he got hurt and Joey Votto is Joey Votto.
So it's easy to ignore how good Bour has been for a bad Marlins team. Injuries have held up Bour at various points in his big-league career, but the 6-foot-3, 265-pounder can mash when he's healthy, and this year he's put together a career-best .289/.364/.564 slash around a brief DL stint this month with an ankle bruise. Here's the key number to note: Bour's homer-to-fly ball ratio of 31.0 percent trails only that of Judge (40.6), Springer (32.9), Bellinger (32.4) and Trout (32.0) among those with 200 plate appearances.
Logan Morrison, 1B, Rays
I'd argue the entire Rays team -- a viable contender for the AL East crown -- is overlooked, but that's another column for another time. For now, let's hone in on Morrison, who, despite the relative lack of attention, is pretty much the textbook example of the revolution in approach we're witnessing here in 2017. Morrison hit 23 homers back in 2011, when it seemed he had star potential beyond his Twitter account. But from that point forward, he never hit more than 17. Last year, he started to try to pull and elevate everything, and the results were all over the map (he started out ice cold, raked in May, came down to earth and then wound up hurt) in what turned out to be a league-average season.
This year, the results have been more consistent, and LoMo already has 22 homers with a career-best .565 SLG. He's hitting .250 and his strikeout percentage has jumped, but you know the reaction to such things in today's environment: As long as you're hitting homers, who cares?
Alex Avila, C, Tigers
Despite valuing his leadership behind the plate and in the clubhouse, the Tigers let Avila walk after the 2015 season, and it seemed to make sense. His offensive performance had waned, and his dad, Al, had just taken over as general manager, so the potential conflict of interest just didn't seem worth it. But after 2016, which Alex spent with the White Sox, the Tigers decided they had a need for a left-handed bat to split time with James McCann, and suddenly Avila looked attractive again. They gave him a one-year, $2 million contract.
The unknown was just how attractive the 30-year-old would turn out to be. Avila's time is limited by his role, but still: In 187 trips to the plate, he's put up an incredible .323/.439/.587 slash with 10 homers and 11 doubles. Nobody saw this coming, and now his father is put in the possible position of entertaining trade offers from contenders for his son.
Tyler Flowers, C, Braves
Another unexpectedly clutch catcher here. In the second year of a nondescript two-year, $5 million deal, Flowers has put in a ton of time with hitting coach Kevin Seitzer and come out with a .333/.430/.480 slash with six homers and seven doubles in 200 plate appearances. Again, this is a matter of taking advantage of limited opportunities, but this is by far the best offensive season of the 31-year-old Flowers' career.
Chris Taylor, UT, Dodgers
Though his bat has been quiet the past couple weeks, Taylor is the non-Bellinger revelation in the Dodgers' lineup this season. He's played second base, short, third, left and center and hit in every batting order position other than cleanup. His slash is a respectable .273/.361/.474 through 238 plate appearances. When Logan Forsythe was hurt early in the year, Taylor was the one who filled in and stepped up at second. Basically, Taylor has been the perfect type of player for a Dodgers team that operates with more of a plug-and-play lineup. He might be coming down to earth offensively, but he's been a very valuable player on one of baseball's best teams.
Michael Conforto, OF, Mets
He has definitely cooled (hitting .206 in June) and he's currently nursing a wrist injury. But simply put, on the very, very short list of positives from the Mets' 2017 season, there are Conforto's 14 homers, 14 doubles and .953 OPS.
Mark Reynolds, 1B, Rockies
Because of the aforementioned depth at first base, Reynolds is likely to get hosed when the All-Star rosters are announced. At least he's helped the Rox become one of the NL's best. Reynolds already profiled as a perfect player for Coors Field, but he didn't take advantage of the home environs last year as much as this year. He's only on the 2017 roster as the product of a Minor League invite, but he capitalized on Ian Desmond's early season injury and has posted a sensational .339/.433/.694 slash with 13 homers and 34 RBI through 35 games at Coors.
That puts Reynolds' overall wRC+ at 127, right in line with sure-fire All-Star teammate Charlie Blackmon (125).
Josh Harrison, 2B, Pirates
Look at the midweek, Baseball Reference-calculated Wins Above Replacement leaderboard for NL second basemen, and you'll see Harrison (2.5) on top. Look at the All-Star ballot results, and you won't see him at all. Daniel Murphy has not surprisingly run away with that vote, but Javier Baez, DJ LeMahieu, Brandon Phillips and Forsythe all rank ahead of him, undeservedly
Harrison has done his part to keep the Pirates loosely alive in the NL Central picture after the suspension of Starling Marte, contributing a .291/.370/.457 slash with 27 extra-base hits. Quietly, he's had a season similar to what we saw in his 2014 breakout.
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Anthony Castrovince is a Sports on Earth contributor, MLB.com columnist and MLB Network contributor. Follow him on Twitter @Castrovince.