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Close races abound in AL All-Star balloting

Jeter has a slim edge over Ramirez at shortstop; three in the mix at second base

Close races abound in AL All-Star balloting

The races are heating up in American League All-Star voting.

While some players have commanding leads -- such as first baseman Miguel Cabrera (Tigers), third baseman Josh Donaldson (A's) and outfielders Jose Bautista (Blue Jays) and Mike Trout (Angels) -- other positions are still up for grabs.

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With online polls open until 11:59 p.m. ET on July 3, there's still time to make sure your favorite player gets the starting nod.

Here's a look at the five tightest races with nearly three weeks of voting remaining.

Shortstop

Derek Jeter, Yankees -- 1,810,451
Alexei Ramirez, White Sox -- 1,568,620

Jeter's in first place, and it would be nice for one of the all-time great shortstops to have a final Midsummer Classic farewell. But Jeter's numbers this season -- .276/.328/.328 with one home run entering action Friday -- aren't necessarily deserving of the starting spot. Ramirez's are, as he's hitting .309 with seven homers while playing solid defense. Fans on Chicago's South Side and around the globe have taken notice, making this race one worth keeping an eye on.

Second base

Robinson Cano, Mariners -- 1,513,052
Ian Kinsler, Tigers -- 1,117,345
Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox -- 1,008,809

The three premier AL second basemen of this generation are once again battling for the starting spot. Although Cano's power numbers are down (four homers), he's hitting at a .333 clip. Kinsler has cooled since his hot start, but he is batting .287 overall, while Pedroia's 2.6 WAR is bested only by Minnesota's Brian Dozier (2.7) among AL second basemen.

Catcher

Matt Wieters, Orioles -- 1,488,884
Brian McCann, Yankees -- 1,075,210
Derek Norris, Athletics -- 1,072,827

Wieters is currently in the lead, but the Orioles backstop won't play in the All-Star Game after undergoing Tommy John surgery earlier this week. Norris (.307, eight homers, 34 RBIs) has the edge, average-wise, over McCann (.223, eight homers, 33 RBIs), with the Yankees catcher owning a slim lead of less than 3,000 votes.

Designated hitter

Nelson Cruz, Orioles -- 1,792,432
David Ortiz, Red Sox -- 1,316,921
Victor Martinez, Tigers -- 1,101,028
Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays -- 1,049,898

Cruz and his league-leading 22 homers and 58 RBIs hold a commanding lead, but what a stacked position. Martinez (.328, 17 homers), Ortiz (16 homers) and Encarnacion (21 homers, 56 RBIs) all have cases to spend the All-Star break in Minnesota.

Final outfield spot

Melky Cabrera, Blue Jays -- 1,454,528
Yoenis Cespedes, Athletics -- 1,111,613
Adam Jones, Orioles -- 1,053,228
Jacoby Ellsbury, Yankees -- 1,027,390

Who will join Bautista and Trout? Each of these outfielders belongs in the conversation. Cabrera (.298, 11 homers) and Jones (.290, 12 homers) are hitting for average and power, while Cespedes has 14 homers and countless highlight-reel throws. Ellsbury has a .346 OBP and 20 steals.

Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- online or on a mobile device -- using the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian until Thursday, July 3, at 11:59 p.m. ET.

Fans may submit up to 25 online ballots, but they can also earn a one-time bonus of 10 additional online ballots. To access these additional online ballots, you must be logged into your MLB.com account when you submit any online ballot. If you do not have an MLB.com account, register on the site in accordance with the enrollment instructions for a free MLB.com account.

Fans this year once again can participate in the 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 Home Run Derby. The 2014 Gillette Home Run Derby 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 14.

The 2014 AL and National League All-Star teams will be unveiled on the 2014 MLB All-Star Game Selection Show during the weekend of July 5-6, with further details to follow on MLB.com. Immediately following the announcement of the AL and NL All-Star rosters, fans can begin voting to select the final player for each league's 34-man roster via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Experian. Fans will cast their votes from a list of five players from each league over the balloting period.

And the voting doesn't end there. The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again have fans participating in the 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 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote Sponsored by Pepsi, and their voice will represent 20 percent of the overall vote that determines the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.

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

The 85th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX, 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 SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.

Cash Kruth is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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