Derek Jeter has often been described as one of those daily grinders not fully appreciated until seen on a regular basis, and All-Star Game watchers apparently couldn't be in greater agreement. The Yankees shortstop and captain, who wasn't elected to his first All-Star Game start until 2004, his ninth season, now leads all of the American League on the ballot. Jeter's 537,218 votes led all AL players in voting results released on Wednesday, the first of regularly scheduled weekly updates that will track online and paper balloting by fans leading up to the 77th Annual Fall Classic on July 11 at Pittsburgh's PNC Park.
That said, Jeter nonetheless appears to be settling in to a competitive race against Baltimore's Miguel Tejada. The game's reigning ironman follows at the position with 370,078 votes -- by far the best runner-up total on the slate. Shortstop thus is a rare position where Yankees and Red Sox players aren't staging their typical match race. Representatives of those teams -- naturally, in a flat-footed tie for the American League East lead entering Wednesday's action -- are running 1-2 around the rest of the infield. Bombers third baseman Alex Rodriguez has the early runaway lead on the ballot, with a 300,000-vote lead over Boston counterpart Mike Lowell. With 524,153 votes, A-Rod's real battle appears to be with Jeter for overall vote leadership. David Ortiz, who would have to take a glove to Pittsburgh since the designated hitter will not be in use in the National League ballpark, leads at first base, his 451,431 votes providing an edge of 120,000 over Jason Giambi -- oddly, another frequent DH. Showing the power of the pinstripe, Robinson Cano, playing his first big-league season and excelling, has a slight lead over Boston second baseman Mark Loretta at second base. With 289,394 checkmarks, Cano is fewer than 32,000 votes ahead of the former Padres infielder, who is wrapping up a hot first May in the Nation. Yankees and Red Sox also lead at the two other infield positions, although their main competition comes from other precincts. At catcher, Boston's Jason Varitek and the Yankees' Jorge Posada are separated by 114,000 votes -- and by Detroit's Ivan Rodriguez, whose 277,034 votes trail Varitek by 58,000. Posada is 36,000 further behind I-Rod, a perennial All-Star. Among outfielders, former Fenway neighbors Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon are 123,000 votes apart. However, Ramirez's early lead is tenuous, with the Angels' Vladimir Guerrero trailing by fewer than 2,000 votes. Ramirez leads with 516,658, and Damon checks in with 393,643. New York's Gary Sheffield is running fifth, and Hideki Matsui, although expected to miss the rest of the season after fracturing his left wrist, is a strong seventh with 231,777 votes. Coco Crisp and Trot Nixon, Ramirez's outfield mates, are running ninth and 11th. Write-in votes could be a major factor in this summer's balloting, if early results are any indication. Receiving the strongest early write-in support among AL players in Toronto outfielder Alex Rios. Rios' 58,919 votes put him in a position to at the very least crack the Top 15 of the outfielders listed on the ballot.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.