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Votebook: Hot corner, hotter competition in AL

Votebook: Hot corner, hotter competition in AL

Votebook: Hot corner, hotter competition in AL
Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas considered it a thrill last month just to see his name listed on a Major League Baseball All-Star ballot for the first time.

Imagine how much that feeling would be amplified if, on July 10, he is hearing his name announced in his own home ballpark as one of the third basemen representing the American League in the 83rd All-Star Game at Kauffman Stadium.

Statistically, the numbers are there for Moustakas. Though his average fell below .300 with his 0-for-4 performance on Thursday, he's still hitting .293, and his 16 extra-base hits are tied for the most among AL third basemen with the Mariners' Kyle Seager.

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Qualified or not, Moustakas knows he has stiff competition at the hot corner. After all, Moustakas' name on the ballot is surrounded by the likes of Alex Rodriguez, Adrian Beltre and even Miguel Cabrera following his offseason switch from first base.

"Yeah, those guys are unbelievable baseball players," Moustakas said. "I mean, I haven't had one thought about [making the All-Star team]. The All-Star Game, going up against those guys in the balloting, it's tough. Those guys are really good ballplayers."

So good, in fact, that Cabrera -- currently leading all qualified AL third basemen in batting average (.305), home runs (eight) and RBIs (33) -- wasn't even sure he'd vote for himself.

"I don't know. At third base, I always vote for [Evan] Longoria or A-Rod," said Cabrera, who has made the All-Star Game twice each at third base, the outfield, and most recently, first base. "It doesn't matter between first and third."

The competition in the National League seems to be a little more clear cut, with David Wright out-slugging potential competitors and the Giants' Pablo Sandoval on the disabled list. Wright has finished first in the voting results in four of the past six seasons, with 2008 and 2011 being the exceptions.

As of Friday morning, Wright was leading all Major Leaguers with a .411 average, and his uncanny .513 on-base percentage was more than 40 points higher than his closest competitor. No other qualified NL third baseman is hitting .300.

With the vote belonging to the fans, though, it's possible for the retiring Chipper Jones to add one last All-Star selection to his list of career accolades, or for last year's World Series MVP, David Freese, to enter the discussion. Freese leads all NL third basemen with eight home runs and 29 RBIs.

"It would mean a lot to be thrown into great company with guys around the league and to represent the St. Louis Cardinals, a great organization," Freese said. "That being said, it is not on my mind, though it would be special."

Fans can cast their votes for starters up to 25 times at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- online or on a mobile device -- using the 2012 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot, until Thursday, June 28, at 11:59 p.m. ET.

Fans can also once again participate in the State Farm Home Run Derby Fan Poll. Fans will have the opportunity to select three players in each league who they would most like to see participate in the State Farm Home Run Derby. The 2012 State Farm Home Run Derby -- part of Gatorade All-Star Workout Day -- will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN HD, ESPN Deportes and ESPN Radio in the United States beginning at 8 p.m. ET on Monday, July 9.

The 2012 American League and National League All-Star teams will be unveiled on Sunday, July 1, on the 2012 MLB All-Star Game Selection Show, televised nationally on TBS. Baseball fans around the world will then be able to select the final player on each team via the 2012 All-Star Game Final Vote on MLB.com.

And the voting doesn't end there. The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again have fans participating in the official voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com via the 2012 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote, and their voice will represent 20 percent of the official vote determining the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.

MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.

The 83rd All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and Sirius XM also will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage.

For more information, please visit allstargame.com or royals.com/asg.

Paul Casella is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @paul_casella. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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