Pujols, who this month passed the halfway mark toward the MLB career home run record of 762 held by Barry Bonds, has hit 16 longballs for the Redbirds this season. He passed Howard, who had led the NL polling until this past week. Howard (15 homers) slipped to third place behind not only Pujols but also Prince Fielder (15) of the Brewers. Fielder won last year's Home Run Derby.
Just as he has dominated at his position more than any other player in the All-Star Game voting, Mauer has remained in the AL lead all along. Carlos Peña of the Rays has vaulted into second place, ahead of Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers.
Mauer, Peña and Pujols each tied with five homers apiece in the first round last year in St. Louis, where the latter was the obvious crowd darling. In the tiebreaking swing-off, Pujols ousted both Mauer and Pena.
Mauer was clearly gassed in the event. He said right after it was over that he hoped it would not be his last Home Run Derby.
"I would like to try and get back there and see if we can win it again," Mauer said, adding one condition: "I just have to come back in better shape."
It would be a much different setting if Pujols participates in the 2010 Home Run Derby. Anaheim is a long way from all those Cardinals fans roaring at every Albert swing.
"I wish I could have put on a better show for the fans," Pujols said after last year's event. "But I'm thankful for the opportunity to be around these great players.
Other AL candidates are 2009 Derby runner-up Nelson Cruz of the Rangers; Aaron Hill of the Blue Jays; Torii Hunter of the Angels; Grady Sizemore of the Indians; Ichiro Suzuki of the Mariners; and Kevin Youkilis of the Red Sox.
Other NL candidates are Adam Dunn of the Nationals; Andre Ethier of the Dodgers; Adrian Gonzalez of the Padres; Derrek Lee of the Cubs; Mark Reynolds of the D-backs; Troy Tulowitzki of the Rockies; and David Wright of the Mets.
Evan Longoria of the Rays and Pujols were the final leaders in the 2009 State Farm Home Run Derby Fan Poll. Both participated in the event. This year's field will be revealed in the days leading up to the Derby.
The State Farm Home Run Derby, part of Gatorade All-Star Workout Day, will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN HD, ESPN Deportes and ESPN Radio in the U.S. beginning at 8 p.m. ET on July 12 at Angel Stadium. It also will feature pitch-by-pitch coverage on MLB.com, with Twitter integration for live expert and fan involvement.
The 81st Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and Le Reseau de Sport, and around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 8 p.m. ET. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Game coverage.