Cruz needs All-Star voting boost to retake DH spot

Cruz needs All-Star voting boost to retake DH spot

SEATTLE -- Nelson Cruz continues to lead the American League in home runs, but the Mariners' new slugger is going to need some help on the 2015 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot if he's going to earn his second straight starting spot in the Midsummer Classic.

Cruz has been passed in the American League designated hitter voting by Kendrys Morales of the Royals in the latest voting tally released Monday by Major League Baseball as Kansas City players now lead in balloting for seven of the nine AL starting positions.

Morales, the former Mariners DH, and first baseman Eric Hosmer took over the lead at their respective positions for the first time this week and now join Royals catcher Salvador Perez, shortstop Alcides Escobar, third baseman Mike Moustakas and outfielders Lorenzo Cain and Alex Gordon as All-Star leaders.

VOTE NOW: Cast your All-Star ballot

The only non-Royals currently holding down starting spots in the AL voting are Astros second baseman Jose Altuve and Angels center fielder Mike Trout, who is second in the outfield voting to Cain.

Cruz is close on the heels of Morales at DH (3,269,634 votes to 3,128,121). Cruz's torrid early home run pace has cooled of late as he's gone 11 straight games without a home run and has just one in his last 16 outings, but he still leads the AL in homers (18), slugging percentage (.613) and OPS (.997) and is third in batting average (.329) and tied for fourth in RBIs (39).

Cruz's three-run homer

Morales, seeking his first All-Star selection, is batting .293 with six home runs, 18 doubles, 39 RBIs and 32 runs. He has a .468 slugging percentage and .822 OPS.

No other Mariners are ranked in the top five position players or 15 outfielders in the voting, including second baseman Robinson Cano, a six-time All-Star who has been elected the AL starter for the past five years, but is off to a slow start this season.

Third baseman Kyle Seager, who was named to his first All-Star team last year, also is not currently among the AL leaders.

Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- on their computers, tablets and smartphones -- using the 2015 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot until Thursday, July 2, at 9:59 p.m. PT. For the first time, voting is exclusively online, where fans may submit up to 35 ballots.

Fans may also receive the ballot by texting VOTE to 89269 (USA) or 101010 (Canada). Or text VOTA for a ballot in Spanish. Message and data rates may apply. Up to five messages. No purchase required. Reply STOP to cancel. Reply HELP for info.

Following the announcement of the 2015 All-Stars, be sure to return to MLB.com and cast your 2015 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote for the final player for each league's All-Star roster. On Tuesday, July 14, watch the 2015 All-Star Game live on FOX, and during the game visit MLB.com to submit your choice for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet via the 2015 MLB All-Star Game MVP Vote.

MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage of All-Star Week festivities.

The 86th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. More information is available at allstargame.com.

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB, read his Mariners Musings blog, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.