First, the choice should be based upon what each of the final five players have done in the first half of the season to help their own teams push toward a second-half pennant chase.

Second, consider the unique traits that make baseball's midsummer classic special: the mixing of tradition and innovation, the combination of up-and-comers and aging stars.

Taking both factors into account, Yu Darvish deserves the AL nod. The rookie has more wins and strikeouts than any of his final five competitors, and his team has a commanding division lead.

See what Darvish can do

Lance Pugmire

Los Angeles Times

For the sake of bringing more attention to the game, I'd select Texas starting pitcher Yu Darvish with my Final Vote.

Darvish has a 10-5 record with a 3.59 earned-run average in what's effectively his rookie MLB season after starring in the Japanese League. The right-hander has helped the Rangers maintain a first-half chokehold on first place in the AL West, with 10 or more strikeouts in three of his four most recent starts.

Jonathan Broxton struggled with his previous All-Star chance. Ernesto Frieri hasn't been with the Angels all season. Jake Peavy has been to two All-Star games. And Jason Hammel just doesn't bring the same buzz to the game.

Let's see what Darvish can do.