Anthony Castrovince

Final Vote: Why Kershaw, Dozier should win

Dodgers ace, Twins sparkplug deserve place at All-Star Game

Final Vote: Why Kershaw, Dozier should win

The 2015 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote is underway to determine the last spot on the American League and National League rosters, and as usual, there are some very difficult choices on the ballots.

Cast your Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote now

If you're having a particularly difficult time deciding which guys should get the opportunity to play at the 86th All-Star Game presented by T-Mobile on July 14 at Great American Ball Park, here are the guys I'd vote for in each league.

AL: Brian Dozier
I suppose you could call Dozier a victim of circumstance. Jose Altuve's batting title still registers in the minds of fans, and he won the popular vote. Jason Kipnis has been on an absolute tear since the start of May and has been one of the AL's most productive players at any position, so he was a no-brainer as Altuve's backup.

Unfortunately, that left Dozier, who has been the MVP of the surprise Twins, twisting in the wind.

Dozier entered Tuesday with the 15th-highest OPS (.849), the 11th-most homers (17) and the 12th-highest WAR (3.1) of any player in the AL, and he leads all second basemen in extra-base hits. As is the case with Altuve and Kipnis, Dozier's body is compact but his numbers are not. For those not totally clued into the Twins' story, how they've risen from four straight seasons of 92-plus losses to sudden, shocking contention here in 2015, just know that Dozier is a big, big part of that rise.

Once an unheralded prospect and now an unquestioned cornerstone of this franchise, there's no way they're playing above .500 ball without him, and the AL All-Star roster doesn't look complete without him.

Dozier a Final Vote candidate

NL: Clayton Kershaw
There are three starting pitchers on the NL Final Vote ballot, and on measure, Kershaw probably ranks third among them in 2015 statistics. Johnny Cueto is the "hometown" guy for the host Reds, and Carlos Martinez's ascension to elite starter status is a big reason why the Cardinals have the best record in baseball. They're both fine choices.

But if you're like me and emphasize the "Star" in All-Star, how can you vote for anybody other than Kershaw? The reigning NL Most Valuable Player and three-time Cy Young Award winner is one of the biggest, brightest stars in this sport, and there's no reason this midseason showcase shouldn't include him.

Besides, it's not like Kershaw is having some horrendous season. The only way his numbers look bad is if you compare them to the historic -- dare I say, unrepeatable -- standard he established in 2014. Though his year got off to a tough start and his win-loss total has been affected by a relative lack of run support, Kershaw carries a strong 3.08 ERA, an even better 2.54 FIP and a Major League-best 147 strikeouts in 114 innings.

More to the point, Kershaw, going into Wednesday's start against the Phillies, has a 1.78 ERA and .177 average against in his last eight outings. Maybe he's not MVP or even Cy Young worthy this season. But All-Star worthy? Heck yeah.

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.