SEATTLE -- Nelson Cruz has the best numbers of any American League candidate at designated hitter this season, but whether the Mariners slugger gets enough support on the 2015 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot to earn a starting spot in next month's Midsummer Classic will now come down to the final two weeks of voting.
Cruz narrowed the gap on Kendrys Morales of the Royals over the last week and was about 286,000 votes behind when the latest AL results were released Monday by Major League Baseball.
Morales has totaled 7,584,560 votes to Cruz's 7,298,451, a difference of 286,109. Cruz trailed by about 550,000 votes a week ago. Voting continues until July 2.
The Royals have dominated this year's fan voting, but the last week seemed to swing a little against that trend as Tigers star Miguel Cabrera reclaimed the lead at first base over Kansas City's Eric Hosmer and Josh Donaldson of the Blue Jays moved within 33,000 votes of the Royals' Mike Moustakas at third base.
Angels center fielder Mike Trout is the other non-Royals starter at this point along with Cabrera. Trout moved into first in the outfield voting this week after being second to Cain in previous results.
Cruz certainly has a valid case as the AL starter candidate at DH for a second straight year. He entered Monday's play ranked second in the league among players at all positions in home runs (19), third in slugging percentage (.572) and OPS (.954), sixth in batting average (.315), tied for eighth in RBIs (44) and ninth in on-base percentage (.382).
Morales, seeking his first All-Star selection, was batting .289 with eight home runs, 18 doubles, 45 RBIs and has a .463 slugging percentage and .810 OPS entering Monday.
No other Mariners are ranked in the top five positon 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 hitting just .243 with two homers and 22 RBIs.
Third baseman Kyle Seager, who was named to his first All-Star team last year, also is not among the AL voting leaders despite ranking fourth among AL third basemen in home runs (11), RBIs (37), slugging percentage (.453) and OPS (.774).
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 8:59 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. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.