Hamilton soars in All-Star voting
Rangers' center fielder rockets up to second behind Manny
A year ago, Josh Hamilton was the curiosity piece in the middle of the Cincinnati Reds' outfield, the guy back to battling pitchers after years of battling his personal demons.Now, he is poised to start the 2008 All-Star Game in between Manny Ramirez and Ichiro Suzuki. Hamilton is the centerpiece of the rallying Texas Rangers, and he rallied from sixth place into second in last week's balloting for the 79th Midsummer Classic, booked for July 15 at Yankee Stadium. The electorate has obviously noticed, and is reacting to, the Majors' RBI leader and American League runner-up in home runs, who also is mere points off the AL batting lead.
Hamilton has never been an All-Star -- he did top the NL with 151,245 write-in votes last summer -- but finds himself in position to start between a couple of guys with 11 All-Star starts between them.Hamilton's charge displaced from among the outfield leaders another luminary with six All-Star starts, including in each of his first four seasons in the AL -- the Angels' Vladimir Guerrero, who slipped into fourth place. The rest of the standings remain virtually unchanged, still dominated by Red Sox and Yankees. Kevin Youkilis, despite a recent slump, retains a healthy lead at first base, over the Twins' Justin Morneau. At second, Dustin Pedroia leads the status-quo top three (ahead of Robinson Cano of the Yankees and Detroit's Placido Polanco), while Ian Kinsler and Brian Roberts flip-flopped in the Nos. 4-5 places. The Yankees again get their props at short and third, led by Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, respectively, with the entire leader board at those positions unchanged. Then it's back to the Red Sox, with DH David Ortiz stretching his lead over New York's Hideki Matsui, and catcher Jason Varitek staying ahead of a new prime challenger -- Minnesota's Joe Mauer, supplanting All-Star legend Ivan Rodriguez for second place. Fans can cast their votes for starters up to 25 times with the Monster 2008 All-Star Online Ballot at MLB.com and all 30 Club sites until Wednesday, July 2 at 11:59 p.m. ET. Starting rosters will be announced during the 2008 All-Star Game Selection Show presented by Chevrolet on TBS on Sunday, July 6. Baseball fans around the world will then be able to select the final player on each team via the Monster 2008 All-Star 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 presented by Chevrolet at the All-Star Game via the Monster 2008 All-Star Game MVP vote at MLB.com Josh would be the first All-Star Hamilton since, well, Alexander, of the Founding Fathers. None of the previous nine Hamiltons who have played in the Majors reached that status. Other notes of interest: The Rays -- ahead of both the Red Sox and the Yankees in the other standings -- again made barely a ripple. First baseman Carlos Pena did advance from fifth to fourth, but outfielders Carl Crawford (No. 12) and rocket-armed B.J. Upton (No. 15) are the only others on the board. The best potential Yankees-Red Sox campaign appears to be developing at third base, where Mike Lowell remains within striking distance of A-Rod. Carlos Quentin, the league's home-run leader, still has yet to crack the outfielders' list as a write-in candidate, but it could be coming. He is running second in write-in votes to Boston's Jacoby Ellsbury, although neither has enough tabs to displace any of the listed players. The 79th Midsummer Classic will be the fourth held at Yankee Stadium and the eighth in New York City. The Yankees previously hosted the All-Star Game in 1939, '60 and '77; the Polo Grounds held the game in '34 and '42; Ebbets Field in Brooklyn was the site in '49; and Shea Stadium hosted the '64 Midsummer Classic. 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.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.