Rangers surge in AL All-Star voting
Mauer catching up on Varitek in race to start behind plate
It was a good old-fashioned Texas stampede.Carried by the wind drag of magnetic teammate Josh Hamilton, fellow Rangers stormed up the leader board at various positions in balloting last week for the 2008 American League All-Star team. The third weekly update of the progress of voting through online and paper ballots, released Monday afternoon, disclosed no new leaders at any of the nine listed positions.
However, with Hamilton leading the cavalry, a trio of other Rangers galloped into the forefront.The double-play combination of second baseman Ian Kinsler and shortstop Michael Young vaulted into runner-up slots, behind Boston's Dustin Pedroia and the Yankees' Derek Jeter, respectively. Furthermore, Frank Catalanotto, off the charts last week, appeared in fifth place among designated hitters and Milton Bradley moved up to 14th among outfielders. The Rangers clearly got a boost from being at home all week, and from fans responding to a team that has fought its way back into contention after a horrid opening month. AL fans everywhere, perhaps counting on more of the Rangers' remarkable impact on recent Midsummer Classics as the 79th renewal heads toward a July 15 display in Yankee Stadium, could be chipping in. Two years ago, there was Young drilling the winning ninth-inning triple in Pittsburgh. The year before, Mark Teixeira's two-run homer was the difference in a 7-5 victory in Detroit. In 2003, Hank Blalock pierced Eric Gagne's invincible shield with an eighth-inning, two-run homer for a 7-6 win on Chicago's South Side. The catchers' rankings are unchanged, but Minnesota's Joe Mauer picked up about 30,000 more votes than the leader, Boston's Jason Varitek, to move within about 51,000 votes of the lead and making backstop the closest race in the AL.
Detroit's Ivan Rodriguez is third and the Yankees' Jorge Posada is fourth. Now that he is off the disabled list, Posada, a five-time All-Star, definitely bears watching.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 At first base, Boston's Kevin Youkilis remained ahead of Justin Morneau of the Twins. Paul Konerko of the Central Division-leading White Sox moved onto the board at No. 5. The third base top five remained status quo, with Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees maintaining his distance from runner-up Mike Lowell of Boston. Thanks to the Texas stampede, this is one of only two positions at which members of the famed rivals are running 1-2. The other East Division match race is at DH, where David Ortiz is holding off his only true threat, Hideki Matsui. Among outfielders, Hamilton, who rocketed into a potential starting slot last week, remained between leader Manny Ramirez and Ichiro Suzuki of Seattle. The "second string" also remained unchanged, with the Angels' Vladimir Guerrero, the Yankees' Bobby Abreu and Magglio Ordonez of the Tigers still in threatening positions. Catalanotto's new presence among DH leaders is another example of the ballot quirks often presented by real-life shuffles. Catalanotto has actually DH-ed in only seven games, spending most of his time in left field. By personally knocking Tampa Bay out of the East Division lead early in the week, the Red Sox adjusted that equation a little bit. The White Sox have a trio of second-tier representatives -- third baseman Joe Crede (No. 4) and shortstop Orlando Cabrera (No. 5) join Konerko -- but Guerrero is the lone Los Angeles Angels player among the vote leaders. The fourth All-Star Game in storied Yankee Stadium -- and the eighth in New York City -- 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. The Yankees previously hosted the All-Star Game in 1939, 1960 and 1977; the Polo Grounds held the game in 1934 and 1942; Ebbets Field was the site in 1949; and Shea Stadium hosted the 1964 Midsummer Classic.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.