Tejada shows race at short will be long
Astros shortstop takes All-Star vote lead over Marlins' Ramirez
Houston's Miguel Tejada surged ahead of Florida's Hanley Ramirez in the race to start at shortstop for the National League in next month's All-Star Game in a campaign that remains extremely close.
Ramirez, who had held the top spot until this week, was the only change on the NL leaderboard, according to the latest totals released on Tuesday by Major League Baseball. Houston first baseman Lance Berkman, Philadelphia second baseman Chase Utley, Atlanta third baseman Chipper Jones, Chicago catcher Geovany Soto and outfielders Alfonso Soriano and Kosuke Fukudome of the Cubs and Ken Griffey Jr. of Cincinnati are the other leaders.
Tejada, the Most Valuable Player of the 2005 All-Star Game at Detroit, leads Ramirez by fewer than 125,000 votes after polling 316,282 votes during the last seven days. Less than 284,000 votes separate the first five spots in the shortstop balloting, which isn't much when you consider no fewer than 45 NL players received more than 100,000 votes last week alone.
Ramirez's margin over Ryan Theriot is fewer than 25,000 after the Cub shortstop garnered more than a quarter of a million votes during the past week. Jose Reyes of the Mets and Jimmy Rollins of the Phillies are closely shadowing Theriot.
Tejada, a four-time All-Star when he played in the American League, is attempting to become the first player to start a Midsummer Classic at shortstop for both leagues.
Leo Cardenas, Craig Reynolds and Tony Fernandez were All-Star shortstops in both leagues but Tejada, who won the fan balloting at shortstop while with the Orioles three years ago, has an opportunity to be the first to start for both the AL and NL.
Berkman, the NL Player of the Month for May, received a Major League-leading 460,880 votes last week to nearly double his total to 1,046,249. Chicago's Derrek Lee drew nearly 300,000 ballots to take over second place from Albert Pujols of St. Louis, with Philadelphia's Ryan Howard and Milwaukee's Prince Fielder remaining in the top five.
Utley (437,333) received more votes last week than any player except Berkman, Soriano (453,853) and Josh Hamilton (442,728) of Texas. It was more than enough to lift Utley past Boston's David Ortiz for the most support (1,284,961) of any candidate in either league to date.
Chicago's Mark DeRosa, Houston's Kazuo Matsui, Florida's Dan Uggla and Arizona's Orlando Hudson round out the current top five in the second base voting.
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, 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.
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.
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.
Jones drew 401,656 votes to go over the 1.1 million mark. Right behind Jones in the third base balloting is Chicago's Aramis Ramirez, who passed New York's David Wright with a strong week at the polls. Wright dropped to third with Houston's Ty Wigginton and Arizona's Mark Reynolds checking in at fourth and fifth place, respectively.
Soto, bidding to become the first NL rookie catcher to start a Midsummer Classic, almost doubled his lead over Atlanta's Brian McCann and now enjoys a margin of just under 400,000. Yadier Molina of St. Louis is fewer than 125,000 votes behind McCann.
Soto's teammate Soriano became the first NL outfielder to go over the one million mark (1,088,866), just ahead of Fukudome (918,262) and Griffey (775,759).
While the top three outfield spots remained the same for the second consecutive week, there was considerable movement among the pursuers.
Houston's Carlos Lee pulled down 256,427 votes to jump from seventh to fourth place, fewer than 200,000 behind Griffey. Milwaukee's Ryan Braun rose from 10th to sixth while Houston's Hunter Pence climbed to eighth from 12th.
Griffey, a 13-time All-Star selection who was the NL's leading vote-getter last season with 2,916,818 votes, hit his 600th career home run on Monday. Griffey has been elected by fans to start the All-Star Game more times than any player except Cal Ripken Jr. (17) and Rod Carew (15).
Jim Molony is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.