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Kinsler maintains early AL Final Vote lead

Kinsler maintains early AL Final Vote lead

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ANAHEIM -- Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler, who continues to lead four other candidates in the Sprint Final Vote balloting, is halfway to history.

Kinsler hit a two-run home run in a 9-4 loss to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Monday night in what was the Rangers' 81st game of the season. At the halfway point of the season, Kinsler is now hitting .253 but with 20 home runs and a club-leading 53 RBIs as the Rangers' leadoff hitter.

The 53 RBIs are noteworthy. Kinsler is halfway to being only the second player in Major League history to drive in 100 runs from the leadoff spot. He has also scored 60 runs.

"I just take pride in producing runs whether it's RBIs or runs scored," Kinsler said. "At the end of the season, if you have 100 runs scored and 100 RBIs, that's pretty good for a player."

Kinsler leads four other candidates in the second update of the Sprint Final Four Vote. Behind him are Brandon Inge of the Tigers, Chone Figgins of the Angels, Carlos Pena of the Rays and Adam Lind of the Blue Jays.

Voting for the Sprint Final Vote is under way until 3 p.m. CT on Thursday exclusively at MLB.com, with balloting updates provided daily along the way. This eighth annual event allows fans to decide the 33rd and final roster spot for the American and National Leagues leading up to the 80th All-Star Game on July 14 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.

Fans also can vote again by mobile device -- exclusive in the U.S. to Sprint, Nextel and Boost subscribers. To receive the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint Final Vote mobile ballot text the word "VOTE" to 1122. To vote for a specific player, simply text message your choice to 1122. EXAMPLE: Text "A3" to vote for AL Player 3 or "N3" to vote for NL Player 3. Standard rate messaging fees also may apply; check with your carrier. Mobile voting in Canada is open to all carriers; fans should text their choices to 88555.

Fans who vote for Kinsler at texasrangers.com will be entered into a sweepstakes with the prizes being a suite for 20 at the Rangers game against the Red Sox on July 20 or an All-Star Autograph package that includes autographed bats from Josh Hamilton, Michael Young and Kinsler.

Darin Erstad is the only player in Major League history who has driven in 100 RBIs as a leadoff hitter. He finished with 100 for the Angels in 2000. Four other players have driven in 90 or more runs. Alfonso Soriano had 99 for the Yankees in 2002, Nomar Garciaparra had 98 for the Red Sox in 1997, Johnny Damon had 91 for the Red Sox in 2004 and Grady Sizemore had 90 for the Indians last season.

"I have a lot of respect for Darin Erstad," Kinsler said. "He's a guy who carries a lot of respect around the league. He has a football mentality. He plays hard every game and every pitch. To be the second guy with him would be pretty special."

Gary Matthews Jr. holds the Rangers club record for most RBIs from a leadoff hitter. He had 79 in 2006 when he was selected to the All-Star Game.

"He had a huge year," third baseman Michael Young said. "Hitting behind him when he was always on base, that was a blast. That's what Kinsler is capable of. He can do a lot of things at the top of a lineup."

Kinsler is also chasing the home run mark for a leadoff hitter. Soriano set that mark when he hit 39 home runs at the top of the lineup for the Nationals in 2006.

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

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