There are many benefits to finishing the first half of the season with the best record in the National League.
You earn praise from the media, fans stuff every corner of the ballpark and your chances of making a run into October improve exponentially. You also tend to land a lot of your players on the roster for the All-Star Game as most of your better teams earn their records because of superior talent.
When the rosters for the game are announced on Sunday, the Phillies figure to both prove that rule and act as something of an exception to it. There will be good representation from Charlie Manuel's clubhouse, but since he won't be on the bench for the first time in three years there will likely be fewer than you might expect.
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Let's take a look at the possibilities and the likelihood that they will be in Phoenix for the game.
Roy Halladay -- He'll be there and he'll probably be on the mound when the National League takes the field in the top of the first inning. You could make an argument for Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers or a couple of other names you'll be seeing in a moment, but Halladay has been the best pitcher in the National League thus far and Bruce Bochy isn't going to overthink this one.
Cole Hamels -- Hamels would be as certain a choice as Halladay if not for the fact that he's going to pitch a week from Sunday, barring him from pitching in the game. There's still a good chance he'll get named to the team and then replaced, but it will still be a shame to miss him on the big night.
Cliff Lee -- Any doubt about his worthiness of a spot on this staff was erased when Lee tore through June like a bear through a picnic basket.
Placido Polanco - Polanco should probably send an open letter of thanks to the Phillies fans for stuffing the ballot box on his behalf. Injuries to David Wright and Ryan Zimmerman left this one wide open and the hometown crowd definitely pushed Polanco past guys with similar resumes in Ryan Roberts and Chase Headley. If he somehow didn't hold on to win the vote, he might not make it.
Ryan Howard -- If Manuel was managing the team, there's little doubt Howard would get a spot on the bench. Until Albert Pujols's injury, his inclusion seemed quite iffy as both Prince Fielder and Joey Votto are more deserving. He's got a shot now and could be a choice for the last man vote if he doesn't make Bochy's list.
Carlos Ruiz -- He'd have an outside chance if Manuel was making the choices, but he seems like a real dark horse for a spot. Good incentive for making the World Series.
Ryan Madson -- Had a decent chance before the injury, but won't get the nod now.
Antonio Bastardo -- His work this season is definitely deserving of consideration, but his lack of name recognition and, pre-Madson injury, less flashy role work against him. There have been some non-closers on teams in the past so you can't totally rule it out.
Shane Victorino -- If the fan voting had gone a different way, say Matt Kemp and Andrew McCutchen over the Cardinals duo of Lance Berkman and Matt Holliday, Victorino might have a chance of making the roster as a reserve. As it stands, we've now got five guys who have to be on the team plus the need to represent the Astros and Marlins with Hunter Pence and Mike Stanton. Maybe he makes that final vote ballot, but if he doesn't it is hard to see a spot for Victorino.