Tonight marks the end of the fans job for MLB 83rd All-Star Game, which will take place at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City on July 10. At 11:59 p.m. ET tonight, the ballots for the American and National League will close and the starters and entire roster for both leagues will be announced this Sunday.
There are the typical leaders for the starting role, but many positions are a close race and will come down to final minutes tonight to determine who starts, makes the roster and who has campaign for the Final Vote.
Leading the majority of votes is none other than the Texas Rangers outfielder, Josh Hamilton, who had 7,310,824 votes entering Monday and was only 143,929 votes away from the record, set by Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays last year. Chances are he will break it by storm.
Hamilton’s closest competition is the Cincinnati Reds’ Joey Votto, who has 4,475,180 votes to start at first base—almost 300,000 more votes than first baseman Lance Berkman.
No surprise that New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter will start yet again for the AL as he is the leading candidate by far among shortstops with 4,407,982 votes.
The biggest surprise however is the Rangers’ Mike Napoli’s lead (3,008,228) over Joe Mauer (1,772,228) for the starting AL catcher spot. There is only a 200,000 vote gap between Buster Posey and Yadier Molina to catch for the NL as that will come down to the final minutes.
For the rest of the positions, it is a tight-knit battle and with the latest poll results being released Monday and Tuesday for the AL and NL respectively, the current standings could change dramatically by the time the polls close tonight.
With Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers ruled out for participation in the Summer Classic, the NL’s starting outfield will probably consist of Carlos Beltran, Ryan Braun and Melky Cabrera.
As for the AL outfield, Hamilton has his spot locked up, as does the Yankees’ Curtis Granderson. Bautista is currently in third, but the Rangers fans have been supporting their team substantially and Nelson Cruz jumping Bautista for the final outfield spot should not shock anyone.
The NL infielders will more than likely include Dan Uggla at second base, Rafael Furcal at shortstop and David Wright at third base based on name alone.
Aside from first base, the Rangers are being well represented with a player either leading or sitting in second place for the rest of the infield positions.
Elvis Andrus is far cry from making the AL All-Star team being 2-million votes behind Jeter. Adrian Beltre has a nice 400,000 votes lead over Miguel Cabrera for third base. Ian Kinsler is less than 100,000 votes away from over taking the Yankees’ Robinson Cano for the starting spot at second base. David Ortiz is still the leading vote getter for the designated hitter over the Rangers’ Michael Young.
Over at first base, Prince Fielder has a comfortable 600,000 votes lead over Paul Konerko and that is unlikely to change by tonight. However, Konerko has put up impressive numbers and has a great chance of participating, as he will earn the Final Vote spot.
As for the NL, it’s hard to say who could earn the Final Vote as all the races are so close, but in order to win they’ll need a bat and I’ll say Matt Holiday gets it if he doesn’t make the roster as a reserve. If not, Carlos Ruiz of the Philadelphia Phillies deserves the spot as he leads the majors with a .364 batting average, yet third among NL catchers.
The Rangers will have at least five position players named to the All-Star game – as for will probably start – and that doesn’t even include their pitchers. Clearly the shift of power has moved from the Yankees and Boston Red Sox to Texas.
The battle for AL starter will come down to final starts of Chris Sale and Justin Verlander while Matt Cain’s perfect game this month and 2.27 ERA will get him the starting nod.
As for closer, Craig Kimbrel’s NL-leading 22 saves will earn him a spot to finish off the AL. However, if the AL has the lead entering the ninth, it’s the first time in a while a decision on closer has to be made with Mariano Rivera not being present with his torn ACL.
The AL has to go with Jim Johnson of the Baltimore Orioles whose 22 saves is only second to Cleveland’s Chirs Perez 23 saves. His 1.10 ERA will shut the NL out and give home field advantage in the World Series back the AL once again.
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