Washington's Bryce Harper, left, and the Dodgers' Yasiel Puig… (John G. Mabanglo / EPA; Barry…)
Now this would be fun: Yasiel Puig vs. Bryce Harper for the last spot on the All-Star team. America, who do you want to see?
The possibility arose this week, when Harper dropped out of the top three in outfield voting for the NL All-Star team. Harper, who spent all of June on the disabled list, ranks behind Carlos Beltran of the St. Louis Cardinals, Carlos Gonzalez of the Colorado Rockies and Justin Upton of the Atlanta Braves.
Harper returned to action on Monday, but voting closes Thursday. He could make up enough votes to pass Upton, but let's say that he does not -- or that Matt Holliday of the St. Louis Cardinals passes them both.
Would the players include Harper among their three outfield selections, given all that time on the disabled list? If not, would NL Manager Bruce Bochy include Harper among his few choices?
Maybe not, given a strong outfield candidate pool that includes Domonic Brown of the Philadelphia Phillies, Michael Cuddyer of the Rockies, Carlos Gomez of the Milwaukee Brewers and Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Oh, and Puig, despite Jonathan Papelbon's declaration that Puig's candidacy is "an absolute joke."
We already know Bochy is reluctant to select Puig. Let's say he gets the chance to pick Harper and passes on him as well, again with the intent of rewarding an outfielder who has played the whole first half.
That could set up Harper and Puig for the "Final Vote," in which five finalists are submitted to a fan vote to determine the last spot on the All-Star team.
Or not. Harper was selected for the Final Vote last year, when he was baseball's new heartthrob. He finished third, behind David Freese of the Cardinals and Michael Bourn of the Braves.
But four of the five players on the Final Vote ballot eventually made the All-Star team -- Freese as the Final Vote winner, and Harper, Bourn and Chipper Jones of the Braves as injury replacements.
Really, it's hard to see how Puig does not at least make the Final Vote. If he does, and if last year is any indication, he's in the All-Star Game win or lose.