Rookies staking their claim. First-year managers commanding the league's top teams. And we can't forget about the surprise players sure to make All-Star rosters sooner rather than later.
At this week's Midsummer Classic, we asked MLB's brightest stars what has them jazzed about the sport and its future -- and what they'd change.
What's the best story in baseball right now?
Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels: "Obviously there's a lot of great pitchers this year. You know, [Blake] Snell, for the Rays, he's having an unbelievable season. [Luis] Severino from the Yankees. I wanna say, the one particular story with them stepping up this year."
Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox: "There's so many good teams and so many good things going on. Our team has been pretty good, too. We have a first-year manager [Alex Cora] that has the best record in baseball. So I think that's a great story in itself."
George Springer, Houston Astros: "What Max Muncy has been doing has been pretty cool to watch. A lot of guys have been having great years. Every year it seems like it's somebody new or somebody else that's stepping into their own realm. I've been a big fan of Max Muncy so far."
Yan Gomes, Cleveland Indians: "Francisco Lindor or Jose Ramirez. That's a story that everyone needs to pay attention to because I know the comparisons are always going to be out there. Jose already got a 20-20 season and it's not even the second half yet. I'm always going to be biased towards our team, so I think our team is the most talented -- five All-Stars."
Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves: "I'm going to be biased, I've got a 34-year-old who's played 13 years in the big leagues and it's his first All-Star game [Nick Markakis]. So that's my favorite story."
If you could change any rule in baseball, what would it be?
Corey Kluber, Indians: "I'd say find a way to make sure every team is competing ... People don't want to pay money to watch teams that aren't trying to win."
Craig Kimbrel, Red Sox: "There's a few. I think some guys like the new clock, some guys don't. You always hear discussions about the strike zone, and I think in at any part in any game there's going to be a point where someone says we need to change this or we need to change that because I think there's always improvement somewhere. But I think at what point do you completely change the game from what it is -- is kind of the hard question on that."
Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers: "What is everybody saying? What would I change? Four o'clock and 5 o'clock games where we can't see in the shadows is probably what I would change. Right? I don't think baseball's fun when everybody's striking out and nobody can see the baseball. We've played a lot of those games this year. It's been pretty tough. Is that a good one?"
And when asked about the length of games: "That's part of baseball. I ain't got nowhere to be. That's my job. If the game is three hours, it's three hours. If it's four hours, it's four hours. That's what we sign up for."
Springer: "I've played in National League games, I've played in American League games, obviously. I think having the extra hitter, it prevents a lot of people from game-planning a certain way. So if that's what you're into, cool. There's a lot of guys in this room like Nelson Cruz who would benefit from the DH everywhere. But if not, oh well."
Which of your teammates do you expect to be an All-Star in the future?
Ozzie Albies, Braves: "I mean, we have Ronald Acuna right now. He's young, coming up. We have Dansby [Swanson]. Johan Camargo -- Johan could be a future All-Star. They're all working hard at the plate to be better every day."
Kemp: "You got guys like Max Muncy, I mean, he's in the Home Run Derby but he definitely should have been in the All-Star Game. We got a lot of All-Stars on our team, we got a lot of good baseball players."
Zack Greinke, Arizona Diamondbacks: "I would say Archie [Bradley]'s probably got the best chance, because he's probably deserved it the last two years, but it's not easy to make. Sometimes it just takes a break here and there. [David] Peralta, maybe. He's getting older, but Peralta, maybe."
Christian Yelich, Milwaukee Brewers: "You see a guy like Travis Shaw, he actually probably could have easily made it last year, except third base was such a deep position last year. We've got a lot of guys who are really talented, but right off the top of my head, that's the guy that comes to mind as who has a shot to make some of these. I'm definitely pulling for him."
Charlie Blackmon, Colorado Rockies: "I think Trevor [Story] is going to be an All-Star for years to come. I also think we have some young players that have what it takes to become an All-Star down the road. We've got a really talented group of guys that are sometimes up and down from Triple-A right now, but I think in the future, they're gonna be really good."
Francisco Lindor, Indians: "[Carlos] Carrasco. Definitely Carrasco. [Mike] Clevinger and [Shane] Bieber are really good as well. [Bradley] Zimmer, [Tyler] Naquin, there's a lot of them. There's a lot of them. I definitely can see them sitting here and answering all these questions at some point in their careers. It's just a matter of being a little more consistent. They're very good pitchers, very good hitters and outfielders. If they can be a little more consistent in the first half, then you become an All-Star -- because that's usually how it goes. You're a good player in the first half, you become a star."
Interviews by Dania Haughton, Dana Lee, Elizabeth Baugh and Matt Marrone