Atkins gaining All-Star attention

Atkins gaining All-Star attention

Rockies left fielder Matt Holliday and first baseman Todd Helton have made themselves familiar with fans and are prime candidates to be voted into the 79th All-Star Game on July 15 at Yankee Stadium, but third baseman Garrett Atkins' start to this season appears worthy of attracting votes.

Tuesday is the official start of fan balloting, which means fans can begin voting online now and at Coors Field when the Rockies return home Friday night to meet the Dodgers.

Holliday has represented the National League the last two seasons and emerged as a strong performer in last year's Home Run Derby, but he is looking to be voted to the starting lineup by the fans for the first time. Helton has appeared in five Midsummer Classics and was voted a starter in 2001, 2002 and 2003.

Atkins has developed name recognition, since his high batting average and home run power have made him a favorite in fantasy leagues. Atkins has been the most consistently effective offensive player this year for the defending NL champs.

The Rockies have eight players on this year's ballot -- Helton, Holliday, Atkins, catcher Yorvit Torrealba, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (nearly last year's NL Rookie of the Year), outfielders Willy Taveras and Brad Hawpe (whose performance last season put him on the radar) and second baseman Jayson Nix.

The Rockies designated Nix, their Opening Day second baseman, for assignment Saturday. But Clint Barmes, who took over the job and has hit well throughout the season, could be a write-in candidate.

The 79th Midsummer Classic will be the fourth held at Yankee Stadium and the eighth in New York City. The Yankees previously hosted the All-Star Game in 1939, 1960 and 1977; the Polo Grounds held the game in 1934 and 1942; Ebbets Field was the site in 1949; and Shea Stadium hosted the 1964 Midsummer Classic.

Fans can cast their votes for starters up to 25 times with the Monster 2008 All-Star Online Ballot at MLB.com and all 30 club sites until Wednesday, July 2, at 9:59 p.m. MT.

Starting rosters will be announced during the 2008 All-Star Game Selection Show presented by Chevrolet on TBS on Sunday, July 6. Baseball fans around the world will then be able to select the final player on each team via the Monster 2008 All-Star Final Vote at MLB.com.

And the voting doesn't end there. Fans will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevrolet at the All-Star Game via the Monster 2008 All-Star Game MVP vote at MLB.com.

The All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX and around the world by Major League Baseball International. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio play-by-play, while MLB.com will offer extensive online coverage.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.