Miggy has early lead in AL 1B balloting

Miggy has early lead in AL 1B balloting

KANSAS CITY -- Miguel Cabrera and the Tigers have a chance to return to the All-Star Game starting lineup for the first time since 2014.

The four-time batting champion and 2012 American League Triple Crown winner led American League first basemen in the first update of the 2017 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot voting, which was released Wednesday for the AL.

Much like the Tigers in the AL Central race, Cabrera is hanging in there after injuries slowed his start. But in a first-base field without many fast starts, Cabrera is enjoying the benefits of being the established veteran and recognizable personality as he seeks his 12th All-Star selection and fourth start (he won the starting nod in 2015 but couldn't take part due to injury).

Cabrera, who has had close races in voting with Kansas City's Eric Hosmer the past couple years, currently holds nearly a 39,000-vote lead over Oakland's Yonder Alonso, with Cleveland's Carlos Santana close behind. Hosmer is further back in fourth.

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Cabrera is the only Tigers player in the top five at his position. That's not a surprise, given the injuries and inconsistencies Detroit has struggled through in recent weeks. Cabrera himself has had some of that. He entered Wednesday's game against the Royals batting .261 (37-for-142 with five homers and 22 RBIs. The veteran slugger spent 10 days on the disabled list with a right groin strain, and was sidelined another few days a couple weeks ago with a Grade 1 strain of his left oblique.

But as balloting history shows, past performance means something. And at a position where no established names have really gotten off to hot starts, Cabrera is enjoying the strength of the track record he spent years building. Even so, Tigers fans are going to have to hit the ballots hard to keep him among the leaders.

Fans may cast votes for starters at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- on computers, tablets and smartphones -- exclusively online using the 2017 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot until Thursday, June 29, at 11:59 p.m. ET. On smartphones and tablets, fans can also access the ballot via the MLB.com At Bat and MLB.com Ballpark mobile apps. Vote up to five times in any 24-hour period for a maximum of 35 ballots cast.

Cabrera was the only Tiger at last year's Midsummer Classic, selected as a reserve for the AL squad in San Diego. Detroit had at least three All-Stars every season for the seven years before that. The Tigers have had at least one position player at every All-Star Game since 2001; closer Todd Jones was Detroit's lone selection in 2000.

Following the announcement of the 2017 All-Star starters, reserves and pitchers, fans should return to MLB.com and cast their 2017 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote for the final player on each league's All-Star roster. Then on Tuesday, July 11, while watching the 2017 All-Star Game presented by MasterCard live on FOX, fans may visit MLB.com to submit their choices for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet with the 2017 MLB All-Star Game MVP Vote.

The 88th Midsummer Classic, at Marlins Park in Miami, will be televised nationally by FOX Sports; in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS; and worldwide by partners in more than 160 countries. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage, while MLB Network, MLB.com and SiriusXM will have comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information about MLB All-Star Week and to purchase tickets, please visit AllStarGame.com and follow @AllStarGame on social media.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.