Players, fans of same mind on All-Stars

Players, fans of same mind on All-Stars

Players, fans of same mind on All-Stars
PHOENIX -- The selection process for the 82nd Major League Baseball All-Star Game to be played on July 12 at Chase Field worked just as it was supposed to this season. Ballots cast by the fans and players matched almost identically. And then the managers stepped in and filled the remaining slots with the caveat that each of the 30 Major League teams had to be represented.

As far as the Player Ballot was concerned, all the National League starters matched up perfectly with the record 32.5 million votes filed via MLB.com by the fans. Over in the American League, not so much. The players voted for Cleveland's Asdrubal Cabrera at shortstop over fan favorite Derek Jeter of the Yankees, the Rangers' Adrian Beltre at third base over New York's Alex Rodriguez, and in the outfield they liked Boston's Jacoby Ellsbury and Tampa Bay's Matt Joyce over Josh Hamilton of the Rangers.

By rule, all position players voted one-two by their colleagues make the team: the second-place finisher if the players agree with the fans and the winner if they don't. The fourth outfielder picked by the players is also an automatic, if the fans don't select him.

"I'm grateful that my peers are voting for me," said Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday, who made the NL squad after being picked fourth by both the players and the fans behind Matt Kemp, Ryan Braun and teammate Lance Berkman. "Even the fact that I was close on the fan vote is pretty exciting. To be recognized by that many fans voting for you is a pretty neat experience. I'm appreciative that people enjoy watching me play."


Ditto Reds first baseman Joey Votto, who finished second to Milwaukee's Prince Fielder in both the fans and the players vote.

"Had I won the starting spot from the fans, I would have been very happy about that," he said. "To be voted by your peers, in my opinion, that's what I play for."

The players also vote for the top eight pitchers -- five starters and three relievers. The managers then get to pick the remaining five pitchers in each league for the big game, which will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and Le Reseau des Sports, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 8 p.m. ET. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Game coverage.

In this case, the players picked four pitchers who are slated to start next Sunday and, by recent rule, will not be eligible for the game and must be replaced: Detroit's Justin Verlander, Seattle's Felix Hernandez and James Shields of the Rays in the AL, and Philadelphia's Cole Hamels in the NL. Giants and NL manager Bruce Bochy selected his own Matt Cain, who also won't be eligible to play, because he's slated to pitch the final game prior to the break.

Bochy, whose team defeated AL manager Ron Washington's Rangers last year in a five-game World Series, opened some eyes by selecting three of his pitchers -- Cain, Tim Lincecum and Ryan Vogelsong -- to the 13-man NL staff. The players also picked closer Brian Wilson. The Giants have no All-Star position players.

Lincecum, the two-time NL Cy Young Award winner, is 6-6 with a 3.04 ERA. Vogelsong didn't even make the squad out of Spring Training, but the soon-to-be 34-year-old has been dazzling since Barry Zito sustained a foot injury on April 16 and the right-hander was recalled from Triple-A Fresno. Zito is back, but Vogelsong went into Sunday's action 6-1 with a 2.09 ERA in 14 appearances, 12 of them starts. Last year at this time, Vogelsong was pitching in Japan after a limited career in the Major Leagues.

"He's only really had one hiccup since he's come up," Bochy said about Vogelsong. "He's a big reason why we're in first place, and I just think this guy is a great story. He should have made our team out of Spring Training because of his numbers, but we didn't have a spot for him. Barry Zito goes down and he comes up and he's really been a shot in the arm for us. He's very deserving and my question would be, why not?"

The D-backs, who are hosting the game this year, are asking the inverse of that question. Why? They think Ian Kennedy, 8-2 with a 3.01 ERA in 17 starts, should have been named to the team. Kennedy still has a shot at it and is one of five NL candidates for the Final Vote sponsored by Sprint. Voting is ongoing now via MLB.com and will be open until 4 p.m. ET Thursday.

"You can make a case that [Kennedy] should have been picked, period," said D-backs manager Kirk Gibson, who will be one of Bochy's coaches on the NL squad. "He's certainly pitched well. He's been very consistent all year."

But Gibson also said he had no problems with Bochy picking his own pitchers.

"When we win the World Series, I'll have people ticked off at me, too," he said. "That's just his right. I respect 'Boch,' and it's not an easy thing to do. It's very tough. There's plenty of deserving people who didn't get picked and he's in a no-win situation."

Even when the process went as smoothly as it did this year.

Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.