Papi seeks All-Star send-off on his final ballot

Slugger, eyeing 10th Midsummer Classic nod, leads list of Red Sox candidates

Papi seeks All-Star send-off on his final ballot

As David Ortiz plays through his final Major League season, it would only be fitting for the gregarious slugger to enjoy the spectacle of All-Star festivities one last time.

The 2016 Esurance All-Star ballot is now live, and Big Papi is on the ballot at designated hitter hoping to represent the American League and the Red Sox.

Though the lefty slugger is 40 years old, he continues to perform at a high level. Through the first 16 games, Ortiz has eight doubles, three home runs and a .992 OPS. Ortiz is a nine-time All-Star, first making it on to that stage in 2004.

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Dustin Pedroia, Ortiz's long-time teammate, will try to become an All-Star for the fifth time. The scrappy second baseman last went to the Midsummer Classic in 2013, as injuries slowed him a bit the past couple of years. But Pedroia looks healthy during the early stages this season and is playing well on both sides of the ball.

Of all the young Red Sox players, the one who seems most primed to make it to his share of All-Star Games is Mookie Betts. The dynamic outfielder has that rare combination of speed and power from the leadoff spot, and seems to make a highlight-reel play in the outfield every game. Betts is just 23 years old, but he is probably the best all-around player on the Red Sox. Shortstop Xander Bogaerts is also 23 and looks more polished with each season.

Hanley Ramirez was a National League All-Star at shortstop three times, and he's adjusted seamlessly to a new position for first base this season.

The lone All-Star the Red Sox had last year was Brock Holt, and he wasn't even on the ballot. Holt made it as a super-utility player. Holt has settled into a regular position in left field and he's on the ballot as one of three Red Sox outfielders. The exciting Jackie Bradley Jr. rounds out Boston's trio of outfielders on the ballot.

Travis Shaw won the starting job at third base late in camp and is a first-timer on the All-Star ballot. The left-handed hitter has started the season with a hot bat. Blake Swihart, who was recently optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket, is on the ballot at catcher.

Browsing the ballot

The other side: Over in the NL, if you haven't hitched on to the Trevor Story bandwagon, it's not too late. The Rockies rookie shortstop has burst on to the scene by smashing eight homers in his first 17 games. It would certainly be exciting to see him play on the national stage that the All-Star Game provides.

Tip of the cap: When Mark Trumbo was dealt from the Mariners to the Orioles in December, it didn't get the buzz of some of the other Hot Stove moves. But Trumbo has come out swinging in Baltimore and could warrant consideration to be an All-Star for the second time in his career. The right-handed-hitting slugger drilled five homers in his first 16 games with the Birds.

A rising star: Story isn't the only rookie creating a buzz around the Majors. Check out the numbers Tyler White is putting up for the Astros. The first baseman has slashed .298/.369/.632 through his first 17 Major League games to go along with five homers. It has been an amazing story for someone who was picked in the Round 33 of the 2013 MLB Draft.

Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- on their computers, tablets and smartphones -- exclusively online using the 2016 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot until Thursday, June 30, at 11:59 p.m. ET. Vote up to five times in any 24-hour period for a maximum of 35 times.

Fans may also receive the ballot by texting VOTE to 89269 (USA) or 101010 (Canada). Or text VOTA for a ballot in Spanish. Message and data rates may apply. Up to five messages. No purchase required. Reply STOP to cancel. Reply HELP for info.

Following the announcement of the 2016 All-Stars, be sure to return to MLB.com and cast your 2016 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote for the final player on each league's All-Star roster. On Tuesday, July 12, watch the 2016 All-Star Game presented by MasterCard live on FOX, and during the game visit MLB.com to submit your choice for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet via the 2016 MLB All-Star Game MVP Vote.

The 87th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 160 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB.com, MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.