Three years after relinquishing a position that made him an All-Star in the first place, Alex Rodriguez keeps adding Midsummer Classic rings to his collection from another vantage point. Rodriguez has become just as star-studded as a third baseman as he was as a young shortstop. An All-Star middle infielder with the Seattle Mariners from 1996 through 2000 and the Texas Rangers in 2001-03, the Yankees' third-year third baseman has a huge lead among his colleagues as the voting process heads toward the finish line.
A-Rod might not be twice as good of player as Red Sox third sacker Mike Lowell this season, but more than twice as many fans want to see the two-time Most Valuable Player start the July 11 Midsummer Classic in Pittsburgh than anyone else. In the National League, Scott Rolen of the defending National League Central champion Cardinals has a narrow lead over David Wright of the Mets, while Morgan Ensberg of the Houston Astros, Braves switch-hitter Chipper Jones and Miguel Cabrera of the Florida Marlins round out the top five vote-getters. Fans can cast votes up to 25 times with the Monster.com 2006 All-Star Online Ballot at MLB.com and all 30 club sites. Online balloting ends at 11:59 p.m. ET on June 29. Rosters for the 77th All-Star Game will be unveiled at 7 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 2. The announcement will reveal the 16 elected starters, as determined by fan balloting, and 45 pitchers and reserves, as determined by the player ballot, the two All-Star team managers -- Ozzie Guillen of the World Series champion Chicago White Sox and Phil Garner of the NL champion Astros -- and Major League Baseball. An All-Star Game without A-Rod in it just wouldn't be an All-Star Game. He has set his personal standards so high during a 10-plus year career that includes two AL Most Valuable Player Awards, that batting .287 with 13 home runs and 44 RBIs for the Bronx Bombers this season would seem to be substandard. Lowell, on the other hand, is having some kind of season for the rival Red Sox. He is batting .330 with seven home runs and 31 RBIs. Not bad numbers for someone who hit more than 100 points lower (.236) with eight home runs and 58 RBIs all of last season with the Marlins. White Sox third baseman Joe Crede (.295, 9 HRs, 37 RBIs) is third in votes; the Athletics' Eric Chavez (.285, 13, 43) is fourth; and Troy Glaus (.266, 17, 45), in his first season with the Blue Jays, rounds out the top five in the AL. Glaus is a three-time All-Star (2000, '01, '03), while Chavez and Crede are seeking their first All-Star Game invitations. Rolen is no stranger to the Midsummer Classic. He was voted in as an NL starter in his fourth All-Star Game last season, but he did not attend as a precaution for his injured left shoulder and was replaced on the roster by Ensberg, who has 18 home runs and 38 RBIs this season. Rolen was the top vote-getter in the NL in 2004, and he became the first Cardinals third baseman to be named to back-to-back All-Star Games since Joe Torre in 1971-73. The way Wright, 23, is coming on, he could give Rolen a run for his money in All-Star voting for several years. Wright has improved offensively in each of his two-plus Major League seasons and currently ranks fourth in the league in batting average with a .327 mark, right behind Rolen at .329. Also, he is fewer than 40,000 votes behind Rolen for the hot corner starting role in next month's Midsummer Classic in Pittsburgh. Jones, a five-time All-Star (1996-98, '00, '01), remains a fan favorite and currently is batting .288 with five home runs and 29 RBIs for the Braves. Cabrera, 23, just might have more talent than anyone else playing the hot corner these days. The main man in the Marlins' rebuilt lineup, Cabrera is batting .349 with nine home runs and 43 RBIs. Fans will once again have the opportunity to select the final position player for each league's 32-man roster at MLB.com. The Final Vote will provide fans the opportunity to cast their votes from a list of five players from each league over a three-day period. Fans added Roy Oswalt (NL) and Scott Podsednik (AL) to the rosters with that Final Vote last summer. For the fourth consecutive year, the league that wins the All-Star Game will receive home-field advantage during the World Series. The AL has won back-to-back-to-back Midsummer Classics since that provision was added prior to the 2003 World Series, and eight straight overall.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.