Once again, the first 2009 AL balloting update for Major League Baseball's All-Star Game was released Wednesday, and once again, Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees is the leading vote-getter, with Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria right behind him.
Jeter, who is seeking his 10th All-Star Game berth, garnered 664,630 votes to lead the shortstop category by a healthy margin of almost 400,000 votes over second-place Marco Scutaro of the Toronto Blue Jays. The shortstops are rounded out by Texas rookie Elvis Andrus, Jason Bartlett of the Rays and Chicago White Sox second-year man Alexei Ramirez.
At the hot corner, no one's hotter than Longoria, who leads the league in RBIs with 49 and also has a .324 batting average and 11 home runs. He checks in with 664,060 total votes, putting him comfortably ahead of the Rangers' Michael Young (296,025), the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez (245,414), Scott Rolen (227,650) and Mike Lowell (215,345) for the starting nod in the 80th Midsummer Classic, which will be played on July 14 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.
Fans can cast their votes for starters up to 25 times with the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint Online Ballot at MLB.com and all 30 club sites until July 2 at 11:59 p.m. ET.
Starting rosters will be announced during the 2009 All-Star Game Selection Show presented by Chevrolet on TBS on July 5. Baseball fans around the world will then be able to select the final player on each team via the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint 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 Award presented by Chevrolet at the Midsummer Classic via the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint 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.
At first base, Boston's Kevin Youkilis leads the way with 414,693 votes, putting him well ahead of the power-packed quartet of Detroit's Miguel Cabrera (299,597), the Yankees' Mark Teixeira (295,798), Justin Morneau of the Twins (275,990) and surprising Chris Davis of the Rangers (217,166).
Being a defending AL Most Valuable Player hasn't been enough for Boston's Dustin Pedroia to sidestep serious competition in the second-base slot. Ian Kinsler of the Rangers is atop that category after the first round of voting with 514,645 votes, although the pesky Pedroia isn't far behind (426,127) with plenty of time to go before the game. Toronto's Aaron Hill, the Yankees' Robinson Cano and Brian Roberts of the Orioles finish off the top five.
Behind the plate, it's all about Joe Mauer, the Minnesota Twins catcher and two-time AL batting champion who has added significant power to his game this year in the form of 11 May home runs while still hitting above .400.
Mauer racked up 381,443 votes, leaving him with a solid margin above second-place Victor Martinez of the Indians (284,988). The top five backstops also include Red Sox captain Jason Varitek (281,549), Jorge Posada of the Yankees (277,849) and Jarrod Saltalamacchia of the Rangers with 272,830 votes.
And then there's the outfield, where it seems to make perfect sense that Massachusetts is known as the Bay State.
That's because Jason Bay, who came to Fenway Park last July 31 in the three-way Manny Ramirez deal, has taken a liking to AL pitching after toiling for years in Pittsburgh, and fans are recognizing his great talent.
Bay, who entered Wednesday's games with a 1.011 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, a .282 batting average, 13 homers and 47 RBIs, is heading up a fantastic crew of outfielders with 446,183 votes. He'll have to keep up the great numbers to hold off second-place Josh Hamilton of the Rangers (442,553) plus perennial All-Star (and current holder of an active 20-game hitting streak) Ichiro Suzuki of the Mariners (306,453).
Ken Griffey Jr. (305,046) has made it back to the Mariners and back into the top five after spending the last 10 early voting periods in the National League.
And the remainder of the top 15 outfielders reads like an All-Star team in itself, with Baltimore's Nick Markakis, Carl Crawford of the Rays, Nelson Cruz of Texas, the Indians' Grady Sizemore, Boston's Jacoby Ellsbury, Torii Hunter of the Angels, Johnny Damon of the Yankees, the Orioles' Adam Jones, J.D. Drew of Boston, Toronto's Vernon Wells and Detroit's Curtis Granderson.
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less