For six straight years, Derek Jeter has earned the fan vote to start at shortstop for the American League in the All-Star Game.
Last season, however, a right calf injury prevented the Yankees captain from suiting up in the Midsummer Classic. This year, the 37-year-old is on a mission to once again merit the starting nod and his numbers are serving as quite the campaign tool. Jeter entered Monday leading AL shortstops with a .372 batting average, leading the Majors with 54 hits and sporting a .956 OPS.
"We're all getting older," said Jeter, a 12-time All-Star. "I think that's pointing out the obvious. Everybody gets older. But just because you've gotten older doesn't mean you can't do things."
Jeter said he isn't surprised by his early-season success.
"You don't just sit around and do nothing in the offseason," he said. "I worked hard in the offseason to continue it and again in Spring Training."
Jeter is among the front-runners at a strong position on the AL ballot. Elvis Andrus is hitting .328 for the Rangers, who hold the best record in the league. Cleveland shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera has been impressed with Andrus' ability at the plate and in the field. Cabrera and Andrus both hail from Venezuela.
"He's really good," Cabrera said. "He's a good shortstop. He's a good hitter, too. To me, it looks like he plays really hard."
Cabrera, who started in place of Jeter in last year's All-Star Game, is batting .315 with a .906 OPS for the AL Central-leading Indians. The 26-year-old said he can't yet envision himself playing at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City on July 10.
"It's too early right now. I'm not thinking about that," he said. "I just play my game and do what I can do for my team."
The National League shortstop spot appears up for grabs. The Cubs' 21-year-old Starlin Castro has produced worthy numbers, hitting .331 with 20 RBIs and 12 stolen bases.
"The guy can hit," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "It's just a learning curve now, situational hitting, men in scoring position ... know what the pitcher is going to give you and prepare for that and understand what the pitcher is going to do in certain situations. I think that's his biggest learning curve. He's always going to hit."
Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki earned the starting nod for the NL last season, but is batting just .258 with three homers, well off the pace of the .304 clip and 30 homers he has averaged the past three seasons.
Jose Reyes represented the Mets in the game last year, but is batting .260 with no homers in his first season with the Marlins. Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins, a three-time All-Star, is hitting .230 with one long ball.
Cardinals leadoff hitter Rafael Furcal could enter into the equation. The three-time All-Star is hitting .383 with a .965 OPS and an NL-high 51 hits.
Fans can cast their votes for starters up to 25 times at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- online or via a mobile device -- using the 2012 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot until Thursday, June 28, at 11:59 p.m. ET.
Fans can also once again participate in the State Farm Home Run Derby Fan Poll
. Fans have the opportunity to select three players in each league who they would most like to see participate in the Derby. The 2012 State Farm Home Run Derby -- part of Gatorade All-Star Workout Day -- 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 9.
The 2012 American League and National League All-Star teams will be unveiled on Sunday, July 1, on the 2012 MLB All-Star Game Selection Show, televised nationally on TBS. Baseball fans around the world will then be able to select the final player on each team via the 2012 All-Star Game Final Vote on MLB.com
And the voting doesn't end there. The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again have fans participating in the official 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 2012 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote, and their voice will represent 20 percent of the official vote determining the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
MLB.com will have extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.
The 83rd All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, 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 Sirius XM also will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit AllStarGame.com