Update: The official answer is Brett Gardner.
Detroit Tigers fans know too well the sinking feeling. When Miguel Cabrera was sidelined with a Grade 3 left calf strain for six weeks, it put a wrinkle in the team's plans going forward. With the loss of Kansas City Royals left fielder Alex Gordon to a Grade 2 plus groin strain for eight weeks, a starting position in the outfield needs to be filled. The question becomes: Who replaces Gordon?
Three players immediately come to mind: J.D. Martinez, Yoenis Cespedes, and Brett Gardner. Only Martinez is currently on the team, as a reserve. Both Gardner and Cespedes are in the Final Vote. There are a number of ways this could be decided. By the numbers both on offense and defensively, Martinez has the upper hand. But between Cespedes and Gardner, the scales could tip in Gardner's favor offensively. Of course, Cespedes has the better chance defensively.
But do you slip Martinez into the starting role, creating a slot for either Cespedes or Gardner to take a reserve spot, or do you start either Cespedes or Gardner and keep Martinez where he is?
The numbers advocate best for Martinez, who supplies more power -- whose home run total is second only to Angels first baseman Albert Pujols, who has 26 -- than both Cespedes and Gardner, gets on-base at a higher rate than Cespedes, can play both left and right field, and has the most outfield assists of any player on the All-Star roster. His DRS is the second-highest on the roster, second only to Lorenzo Cain.
Ideally, Martinez will slip into the starting role for Gordon. At that point you could objectively advocate for either Cespedes or Gardner to be inserted to the now-vacated reserve spot. But with Cespedes' cannon for an arm and extreme clutch power in late and close games in high pressure situations, Gardner falls by the wayside.
The All-Star game is only five days away and Ned Yost will have to make a decision relatively quickly. It could be that Yost chooses someone not on this list, for whatever reason. But for a manager who values defense as highly as Yost does, as well as clutch hitting, it would seem that the favor rests with Martinez, with Cespedes filling a reserve role. We'll just have to wait and see.