Albert Pujols made the All-Star team in nine of his first 10 seasons, but has gone four straight years without taking part in the Midsummer Classic and hasn't really come close to getting there the last two years, after going on a month-and-a-half-long homerless slump in 2012 and being hindered by plantar fasciitis in 2013.
This could be the year Pujols makes it back, though.
The All-Star Game ballots were unveiled on Friday, with fans given a chance to decide the starting position players in the American League and National League. Pujols, of course, was listed as the first base representative for the Angels. And it served as a reminder of how much better the 34-year-old has looked at the start of the season, both offensively -- especially while hitting career home run Nos. 499 and 500 on Tuesday -- and with the glove.
"I told you guys before, I'm healthy and I'm feeling good at the plate right now," Pujols said recently. "I mean, I don't need to tell you guys. You guys can see it. When you have your leg [under you], now you can rely on the power you have, and it wasn't there the last couple years. You can look for your own eyes."
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 8:59 p.m. PT. 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 AL and NL 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 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 also will provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.
In-stadium balloting at Angel Stadium will take place April 30 to June 11.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less