Dodgers third baseman receives unsurpassed 20.8 million votes
By Mark Newman
MIAMI -- Hot summer nights and hot corner fun.
Two third basemen won the Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote on Thursday for the first time in the competition's 16-year history, as top vote-getter Justin Turner of the Dodgers -- who set a Final Vote record with 20.8 million votes -- and Mike Moustakas of the Royals were added by fans with the 32nd and final roster spots for the 88th All-Star Game presented by Mastercard on Tuesday at Marlins Park.
The two have been linked from almost the moment the candidates were revealed on Sunday night. The Royals and Dodgers announced an alliance of #VoteMoose and #VoteJT in the first 24 hours, pushing for two Southern California natives to make it to South Florida. Both players went to high school in the Los Angeles area -- where they will share the field before heading to Miami. The Royals and Dodgers open a three-game series tonight at Dodger Stadium before the break.
"Glad to be able to represent the Los Angeles Dodgers in the All-Star Game," Turner said before the Dodgers played the D-backs on Thursday night. "I also want to thank all the fans over in Kansas City. We partnered with them, obviously, it was a pretty good partnership, because Moose got in as well. I look forward to seeing him down in Miami too."
Reminded that Moustakas and the Royals arrive for a three-game series this weekend, Turner said: "Oh yeah! He's coming down here. Maybe we'll ride on the plane together."
Turner also acknowledged his teammate's influence on the Final Vote.
"I think it played a big role," Turner said of Kenley Jansen's comments about Dodgers fans. "I don't think he was trying to attack the fans in any way, he was just trying to make them aware of what was going on. I think it sparked a fire underneath our whole fan base -- not only here in L.A. but around the country and around the world. If you look at the numbers, it definitely worked."
Moustakas, already headed to South Florida for the T-Mobile Home Run Derby on Monday, won the Final Vote in 2015 and joins Shane Victorino (2009 and '11 with the Phillies) as the only two-time winners. Waging arguably the best on-field campaign throughout any Final Vote, with a key homer in each of the first three days of ballot updating, Moustakas garnered 15.6 million votes and finished first in the American League race ahead of Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts, Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius, Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus and Rays first baseman Logan Morrison.
"It's such a great honor," Moustakas told MLB Network. "I just want to thank Royals fans."
Turner entered this Final Vote with the highest batting average (.382 at the time) for any candidate in the competition's history, and Dodger fans (among others) made a loud statement that he needs to be in this Midsummer Classic. He outdistanced Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon, Rockies first baseman Mark Reynolds and Marlins first baseman Justin Bour.
This year's Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote again drew to an exciting finish over its final few hours and minutes, which had Twitter votes coming in the thousands per minute. Overall, the top two candidates with the most Twitter supporters were the second-place finishers in each league, making last day runs at the leaders, #VoteKB and #VoteX. They were followed closely by #VoteMoose, #VoteJT and #SirDidi4Sure in the top five.
Meanwhile, this Final Vote was notable in other ways. This marked the first time in Final Vote history that two players who started the previous year's All-Star Game -- Bogaerts and Bryant -- finished runner-up in this voting. Also, it extended the streak of no middle infielder winning the Final Vote.
Moustakas has homered in six of his past eight games, increasing his personal-best season output to 25 and making a legitimate run at Steve Balboni's club record of 36 in 1985. More importantly to Moustakas and Kansas City, he has led the team's current four-game winning streak and the Royals are now just a half-game behind Cleveland in the AL Central standings.
"They are the best fans in baseball," he said of Royals fans who led the charge for the second time in three years. "They are great fans and great people. ... My career has been a roller coaster, and they've stuck with me all the way."
Though he doesn't yet have enough at-bats to qualify for the batting title, his .380 batting average leads all players who have at least 200 at-bats. It would be the fourth-highest batting average at the All-Star break since 1969, trailing just Larry Walker (.398, 1997), Tony Gwynn (.394, 1997) and Andres Galarraga (.391, 1993).
"I'm not like Belly and Corey," Turner said during the voting. "I'm getting up there in age. Whatever opportunity I get, I'll gladly take it."
On Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. ET, tune in to the 2017 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard 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 2017 MLB All-Star Game MVP Vote. The 88th All-Star Game, in Miami, will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 160 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB.com, MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com and a baseball writer since 1990. Follow him @Marathoner and read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com/blogs hub. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.