Race for final starting outfield spot heating up in latest AL balloting figures

The race for the final American League starting outfield spot continues to tighten in the latest balloting figures for the 84th All Star Game, to be played on Tuesday, July 16th at Citi Field in New York. The fourth A.L. update was announced earlier this evening on FOX as part of its "Baseball Night in America" pre-game show. The fourth National League balloting results will be revealed tomorrow night on ESPN during "Baseball Tonight" at 7:00 p.m. (EDT) prior to its Sunday Night Baseball telecast.

      Baltimore Orioles outfielder Nick Markakis, who currently ranks third among A.L. outfielders with 1,915,860 votes, holds a slim lead over three-time All-Star and two-time fan-elected starter Jose Bautista (1,867,367) of the Toronto Blue Jays and four-time All-Star and two-time fan-elected starter Torii Hunter (1,851,657) of the Detroit Tigers. Markakis, who is bidding for his Midsummer Classic debut, is one of four Orioles who currently lead a race for a starting assignment at the All-Star Game. The eight-year veteran has hit safely in 30 of his last 38 games dating back to May 9th, batting .314 (49-for-156) with 11 doubles, four homers, 23 RBI and 26 runs scored in that time. Following close behind Bautista and Hunter is 2008 N.L. All-Star Nate McLouth (1,660,080) of the Orioles and 2009 A.L. All-Star Nelson Cruz (1,595,371) of the Texas Rangers.

      Markakis is joined in the outfield by his teammate Adam Jones, who has the third-highest total in the A.L. with 3,571,693 votes, and Mike Trout (3,548,295) of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Jones, who is contending for his first fan-elected starting assignment and his third All-Star appearance overall, ranks among A.L. leaders with 53 runs (T-2nd), 94 hits (3rd), 22 doubles (T-4th), 55 RBI (T-4th), a .518 slugging percentage (7th) and 15 home runs (T-9th). Markakis and Jones would become the first pair of Orioles teammates to earn fan-elected starts together, and join Hall of Famer Frank Robinson (1970-71), Ken Singleton (1981) and Brady Anderson (1997) as the only outfielders in franchise history to be voted an All-Star by the fans. It would also mark the 17th time in history, and the first since Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez of the Boston Red Sox in 2005, that teammates in the A.L. outfield have received fan-elected starts together. Trout, who is the only player in the A.L. to hit at least 10 home runs and steal at least 15 bases this season, is batting .344 (64-for-186) with 13 doubles, four triples, 10 home runs, 28 RBI, 12 stolen bases and 38 runs scored in 48 games since May 1st. The 2012 A.L. Rookie of the Year is one of only five players since 1935 to have at least 14 triples and 45 home runs in his first 250 career games, joining Nomar Garciaparra and Hall of Famers Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams and Willie Mays. Trout, who was the seventh-youngest A.L. position player in All-Star history last year, scored his 200th career run on Monday night in his 249th career game, making him the fastest to 200 runs by any player since 1940.

      First baseman Chris Davis and shortstop J.J. Hardy round out the foursome of Orioles who currently hold a starting job. The Orioles had a franchise-best three players elected by the fans in 1971 (Boog Powell, Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson) and 1997 (Roberto Alomar, Brady Anderson, Ripken). Davis has garnered 3,960,299 total votes as he continues to challenge Detroit's Miguel Cabrera (4,337,223) for the overall A.L. lead. The 27-year-old Texas native, who is aiming for his first All-Star selection, is batting .354 (56-for-158) with 14 doubles, 12 walks, 18 homers, 32 runs scored and 39 RBI in his last 40 games since May 9th. Davis, who leads the Majors with 27 home runs and a .724 slugging percentage, is one of three Orioles ever to record at least 20 homers and 20 doubles before the All-Star break, joining Brady Anderson (1996) and B.J. Surhoff (1999). The fifth round pick in the 2006 Draft, who would become the first Orioles first baseman since Hall of Famer Eddie Murray in 1985 to earn a fan-elected starting nod, is followed by four-time All-Star and three-time fan-elected starter Prince Fielder (2,579,031) of the Tigers.  

      Hardy, an N.L. All-Star in 2007, has received 2,548,682 as he contends for his first starting assignment. The 30-year-old Arizona native, who is batting .380 with five home runs and 12 RBI through 19 games in June, would join Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr. (12 times, 1984-87, 89-96) and Miguel Tejada (2005) as the only Orioles shortstops to earn a fan-elected starting nod. Hardy, who leads all A.L. shortstops with 15 home runs and 44 RBI, is followed by Jhonny Peralta (1,838,500) of the Tigers, who surpassed Elvis Andrus (1,616,834) of the Rangers for second place. Cabrera, who is aiming for his eighth All-Star selection and first fan-elected start, leads the Majors with 105 hits, a .368 batting average, 74 RBI and a .458 on-base percentage, and leads the A.L. with 56 runs scored and 44 walks. The 2012 A.L. MVP collected his 100th hit of the season on Wednesday, becoming the first player since Hall of Famer Ted Williams (1948) to have at least 100 hits and 71 RBI in his team's first 70 games of a season. The Venezuela native is followed at third base by Manny Machado (2,097,804) of the Orioles, who leads the Majors with 33 doubles and ranks second behind Cabrera with 104 hits.

      Four-time All-Star and three-time fan-elected starter Robinson Cano of the New York Yankees, who has tallied 3,032,183 votes, maintains a comfortable lead over A.L. East-rival Dustin Pedroia (2,135,499) of the Boston Red Sox at second base. Cano (2010-12) and Pedroia (2008-09), a three-time All-Star overall, have combined to earn the fan-elected starting assignment at second base for the A.L. in each of the last five seasons. Cano, the A.L.'s 2013 Chevrolet Home Run Derby captain, leads Major League second basemen with 16 home runs and a .498 slugging percentage. The 30-year-old native of the Dominican Republic would become the first A.L. second baseman to earn four consecutive fan-elected starts since Roberto Alomar had five from 1996-2000.

      Eight-time All-Star and six-time fan-elected starter David Ortiz of the Red Sox remains the A.L. leader at designated hitter with 3,247,462 total votes. Ortiz, who is three doubles shy of 500 for his career, would join Todd Helton (574), Derek Jeter (524), Albert Pujols (521) and Alex Rodriguez (512) as the only active players with 500 doubles. In addition, Ortiz, who has 416 career home runs, would become the 20th player in Major League history to reach both the 400-homer and 500-double milestones. The Dominican Republic native would become the second Red Sox player in history to earn seven fan-elected starts, joining his former teammate Manny Ramirez, and he would become the 10th player in A.L. history to receive at least seven fan-elected starts with a single team.

      Behind the plate, Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer, who has 2,788,972 votes, continues to lead Matt Wieters (2,068,032) of the Orioles. Mauer, who is seeking his sixth All-Star selection overall, is aiming to join Ivan Rodriguez (12) and Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk (7) as the only A.L. catchers to earn four fan-elected starting assignments. The 2009 A.L. MVP, who is hitting .358 (59-for-165) with 18 doubles and a .445 on-base percentage in 41 games since May 5th, is also bidding to join Hall of Famers Rod Carew (nine times) and Kirby Puckett (six times) as the only Twins in franchise history to earn at least four fan-elected starting nods.

      MLB's All-Star Balloting Program is the largest of its kind in professional sports, and last year produced a record-shattering total of 40.2 million ballots cast. This year, more than 20 million Firestone All-Star ballots will be distributed at the 30 Major League ballparks, each of which will have 25 dates for balloting, and in approximately 100 Minor League ballparks. 

      In addition, fans around the world can cast their votes for starters 25 times exclusively at MLB.com and all 30 Club web sites - online or via their mobile devices - with the 2013 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by freecreditscore.com. During the voting period, the All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by freecreditscore.com will be available in English, Spanish, Japanese, Korean and Chinese, and will offer audio CAPTCHA functionality for visually-impaired fans. Banco BHD will sponsor online All-Star balloting in the Dominican Republic, making Spanish-language ballots available to fans in the Dominican Republic via LasMayores.com, the official Spanish-language Web site of Major League Baseball.

      Every Major League Club began its in-stadium balloting no later than Tuesday, May 7th. When the in-stadium phase of balloting concludes on Friday, June 28th, fans will have the opportunity to cast their ballots exclusively online at MLB.com, the 30 Club Web sites and their mobile devices until Thursday, July 4th at 11:59 p.m. (EDT).

      Firestone, the official tire of MLB, is once again the exclusive sponsor of the 2013 In-Stadium All-Star Balloting Program. The ballot features an All-Star sweepstakes, in which a winner will be rewarded with a trip for two to MLB All-Star Week, including airfare, hotel accommodations and tickets to the All-Star Game and other MLB All-Star Week events.

      For the fifth consecutive year, this year's ballot features the Home Run Derby Fan Poll. Fans will have the opportunity to select the three players in each League who they would most like to see participate in the Home Run Derby. The Fan Poll is also available online at MLB.com. The 2013 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 8:00 p.m. (EDT) on Monday, July 15th. The 10 American League candidates are Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays; Adrian Beltre of the Texas Rangers; Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers; the winner of the 2011 Home Run Derby, Robinson Cano of the New York Yankees; Adam Dunn of the Chicago White Sox; the winner of the 2009 and 2012 Home Run Derby, Prince Fielder of the Tigers; Josh Hamilton of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim; Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles; Evan Longoria of the Tampa Bay Rays; and Mike Trout of the Angels. The 10 National League candidates are Carlos Beltran of the St. Louis Cardinals; Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers; Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals; Jason Heyward of the Atlanta Braves; Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers; Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates; Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants; Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins; Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds; and David Wright of the Mets.

      The 2013 American League and National League All-Star Teams will be unveiled on Saturday, July 6th on the 2013 MLB All-Star Game Selection Show presented by Taco Bell, televised nationally on FOX at 6:30 p.m. (EDT) prior to its slate of prime time games that evening. The A.L. All-Star Team will have nine elected starters via the fan balloting program, while the N.L. All-Star Team will have eight fan-elected starters. The pitchers and reserves for both squads - totaling 25 for the N.L. and 24 for the A.L. - will be determined through a combination of "Player Ballot" choices and selections made by the two All-Star managers - A.L. skipper Jim Leyland of the Detroit Tigers and N.L. manager Bruce Bochy of the defending World Series Champion San Francisco Giants.

      Immediately following the announcement of the American League and National League All-Star rosters, fans will begin voting to select the final player for each League's 34-man roster via the 2013 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by freecreditscore.com. Fans will cast their votes from a list of five players from each League over a four-day period and the winners will be announced after the voting concludes on Thursday, July 11th. Now in its 12th season with more than 350 million votes cast, fans again will be able to make their Final Vote selections on MLB.com, Club sites and their mobile phones.

      This year's final phase of All-Star Game voting again will 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 and the 30 Club sites via the 2013 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote, and their collective voice will represent 20 percent of the official vote determining this year's recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy. 

      The 2013 All-Star Game will be played at Citi Field on Tuesday, July 16th. The 84th 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. Pregame ceremonies will begin at 7:30 p.m. (EDT). ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com or mets.com/asg.