Kipnis likely to make All-Star team tonight

Francona also believes Kluber, Carrasco made strong cases

Kipnis likely to make All-Star team tonight

PITTSBURGH -- If statistics were the only element in play, Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis likely would have had his named called as a starter for this year's American League All-Star team, but Kipnis fell short in fan voting and will have to wait one more day to learn his fate.

Given the nature of his first half, Kipnis is currently Cleveland's leading All-Star candidate. With Jose Altuve of the Astros winning the fan vote for the AL's starting job, the Tribe's second baseman will likely be announced as a reserve during the Esurance All-Star Selection Show on ESPN at 7 p.m. ET on Monday, when pitchers, reserves and Final Vote candidates are revealed.

"It's always a fun time," Kipnis said of the All-Star process. "It'll be good just to get it over with and done with. I'm more excited to go home and get back to Cleveland and have a homestand for a week. It'll be cool if it happens, to find out and hear the names and what, if any, waves are caused by anything. It'll be fun to see what happens."

Indians manager Terry Francona had a blunt opinion on the matter.

"If Kip's not an All-Star, there's not one," Francona said. "He's been one of the better players in the game."

Immediately following Monday's selection show, fans can return to MLB.com to begin voting to select the final player for each League's 34-man roster via the 2015 Esurance All-Star Game Final Vote. Fans can cast their votes from a list of five players from each league until 4 p.m. ET on Friday, July 10.

And the voting doesn't end there. During the Midsummer Classic in Cincinnati on Tuesday, July 14, fans can once again visit MLB.com to submit their choice for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award. Voting exclusively at MLB.com, online and via their mobile devices in the 2015 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote, the fans' collective voice will represent 20 percent of the overall vote that determines the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.

During Sunday's 5-3 loss to the Pirates, Kipnis collected his Major League-leading 27th double of the season and scored his 56th run (fifth in the American League). With his latest performance, Kipnis now boasts the best WAR (4.8, according to Fangraphs.com) in the AL and will carry a .341/.419/506 slash line into Monday's All-Star announcement show.

Kipnis, who was an All-Star in 2013, currently leads the AL in hits (109), ranks second in on-base percentage and is third in batting average. The second baseman has also collected six home runs, four triples, 35 RBIs, 39 walks and 10 stolen bases in 80 games.

When he made his first All-Star team two years ago, Kipnis was named to the AL squad by former manager Jim Leyland. If he makes it this year, it will come either by managerial selection or via Kipnis' peers. While earning the starting nod from the fans would have been nice, Kipnis said being named by his peers might carry more weight.

"Just going makes it the honor, that's the cool part," Kipnis said earlier this week. "To me, I don't know, [being voted in by your] peers might be the best one for me. If you get the respect of the other players, where they know you're having a great year and they put you in, that says a lot to me."

Cleveland's other All-Star candidates include outfielder Michael Brantley, starters Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco, and potentially closer Cody Allen.

Francona believes the debate between Kluber (the reigning AL Cy Young winner) and Carrasco is an interesting one. Kluber has a disappointing 3-9 record due to low run support, but his peripheral stats paint him as arguably a top-five starter in the Majors. Carrasco, on the other hand, is currently tied for the AL lead in wins (10), but trails Kluber in nearly every other category.

"It's interesting, because you look at Carrasco, he's got 10 wins," Francona said. "And then you look at Kluber and, if you look across the board, Kluber's got better numbers. It'll be interesting. … I wouldn't be surprised if Kluber gets more recognition than maybe somebody -- a normal, casual fan that sees his record -- [would expect]. And, he deserves it.

"What he did last year [should be taken into account]. I'm a believer that All-Stars are not just the first three months of the season. I get it. As a player, I really believe that. I think a lot of baseball people pay attention to that, too."

MLB.TV Premium subscribers 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 supported MLB.TV platforms, including the award-winning MLB.com At Bat app. MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities, including the 2015 Gillette Home Run Derby presented by Head & Shoulders, part of Gatorade All-Star Workout Day on Monday, July 13. The Derby will feature a new format with brackets and timed rounds and will be broadcast live by ESPN and MLB.com beginning at 8 p.m. ET.

The 86th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports (7 p.m. ET air time, 8:15 first pitch), in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 160 countries. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive 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.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.