Who will take over for retired superstar David Ortiz as designated hitter for the American League? Are early surprises Avisail Garcia, Mitch Haniger and Steven Souza Jr. on your radar? Is now the time for Paul Goldschmidt to start? Will the removal of World Series home-field advantage for the winning league have any bearing on fans' picks for the most prestigious All-Star event in sports?
Voting is underway for the 88th MLB All-Star Game presented by MasterCard on July 11 in Miami, and this is your chance to start answering those and many more questions, as May and the 2017 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot both arrived on Monday.
Major League Baseball and the host Marlins marked the official launch of the largest All-Star Balloting Program in professional sports, not starting until the month of May for the first time in several years, which gives players more time to establish themselves on the field. And for the third consecutive season, it will be conducted exclusively online and via mobile devices at MLB.com, all 30 club sites and the MLB.com At Bat and MLB.com Ballpark mobile apps. Fans around the world can cast their votes for starters a total of 35 times, including a maximum of five valid ballots cast in any 24-hour period.
"To be an All-Star is a humbling feeling," said Trout, who plays center field for the Angels and has hit safely in each of his first five All-Star Game appearances, from 2012-16. "It's an honor, and it's fun. It's for the fans. It's a couple of days for the fans. I go out there to play my hardest and try to put on a show. It goes by so quick. Just enjoy every minute of it. No pressure -- go out there playing my game and try to help the team win."
The game at Marlins Park will be the first one hosted by the Marlins and the first All-Star Game to be played in Florida. Is Giancarlo Stanton, last year's winner of the T-Mobile Home Run Derby, an early candidate to make a hometown start? This year's ballot launched in May instead of April, as usual, and you already have enough data to start making some solid cases for those ballots that you are about to start submitting.
Details regarding the unveiling of the All-Star rosters will be available in the coming weeks. The AL team will have nine elected starters via the fan balloting program, while the NL squad will have eight fan-elected starters.
The pitchers and reserves for both squads -- totaling 23 for the NL and 22 for the AL -- will be determined through a combination of Player Ballot choices and selections made by the Commissioner's Office. Joe Maddon of the Cubs and Terry Francona of the Indians will manage the NL and AL teams, respectively, thanks to their 2016 World Series appearances.
Speaking of Maddon's Cubs, it will be interesting to see if the team's long-awaited World Series title manifests itself in NL lineup domination. When MLB released its Most Popular Jerseys list last month, four of the top five jerseys belonged to Cubs. That's fan-based data based on popularity. The Cubs dominated All-Star balloting updates in 2016, so what happens after dreams come true? And how will fans of other NL clubs approach that possibility?
There are many voting storylines and many ballot-update arguments to expect in the weeks and months ahead. For now, just dive in. Pore over the sortable stats, watch the games and start using those ballots.
During this voting period, the 2017 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot will be available in English and Spanish, and it will offer audio CAPTCHA functionality for visually impaired fans. Banco BHD León will once again sponsor online All-Star balloting in the Dominican Republic, making Spanish-language ballots available to fans in the Dominican Republic via LasMayores.com.
Fans may cast votes for starters at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- on computers, tablets and smartphones -- exclusively online using the 2017 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot until Thursday, June 29, at 11:59 p.m. ET. On smartphones and tablets, fans can also access the ballot via the MLB.com At Bat and MLB.com Ballpark mobile apps. Vote up to five times in any 24-hour period for a maximum of 35 ballots cast.
Following the announcement of the 2017 All-Star starters, reserves and pitchers, fans should return to MLB.com and cast their 2017 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote for the final player on each league's All-Star roster. Then on Tuesday, July 11, while watching the All-Star Game live on FOX, fans may visit MLB.com to submit their choices for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet with the 2017 MLB All-Star Game MVP Vote.
The 88th Midsummer Classic, at Marlins Park in Miami, will be televised nationally by FOX Sports; 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, while MLB Network, MLB.com and SiriusXM will have comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information about MLB All-Star Week and to purchase tickets, please visit AllStarGame.com and follow @AllStarGame on social media.
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com and a baseball writer since 1990. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com/blogs hub. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.