NEW YORK -- The first balloting updates for both leagues were unveiled Tuesday in a special All-Star Leadoff event hosted by Major League Baseball and FOX at the MLB Fan Cave, and top overall vote-getter Josh Hamilton (2,587,991) was one of five members of the AL champion Rangers on pace to start the 83rd All-Star Game on July 10 in Kansas City.
Fans can submit up to 25 ballots per email address with the All-Star Game Online Ballot, through June 28 exclusively at MLB.com and all 30 club sites, wired or mobile. Once that voting ends, then comes the always-frenetic finish with the All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote from July 1-5 and the annual MVP vote during the All-Star Game to help decide who wins the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award.
Hamilton and Nelson Cruz both rank among the top three in the AL outfield, while Ian Kinsler leads at second base, Adrian Beltre tops the field at third and Mike Napoli leads at catcher. Will Ron Washington be managing most of his starting lineup at Kauffman Stadium? Will others overtake them? Further updates will be announced each Monday (AL) and Tuesday (NL) throughout June.
Matt Kemp of the Dodgers leads all National League vote-getters with 1,952,910, and Curtis Granderson of the Yankees is in early line to be part of that AL outfield. Both players were on hand for the announcement along with Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano and Rays outfielder Matt Joyce, joining in the debate with fans everywhere.
"This is my first time seeing the votes, and I knew Josh Hamilton was gonna be killin' it," said Kemp, who is on the disabled list rehabbing his hamstring and "hopeful" that he can return in time for the Midsummer Classic. "He's having an amazing season. To be able to watch the things that he's done so far these first two months, just to be mentioned along with some of these guys, it's amazing to be in this position, and I'm very blessed."
Hamilton is attempting to make his fifth consecutive fan-elected start. The last AL outfielder to start five straight Midsummer Classics was Seattle outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, who started each All-Star Game from 2006-10. In addition, Hamilton is bidding to become just the second Rangers player to start as many as five straight All-Star Games; Ivan Rodriguez was elected by the fans to start nine consecutive games from 1993-2001.
"I remember last year when Jose Bautista broke the record for most votes all-time -- I have a pretty good feeling Josh is probably going to break that this year," Granderson said. "He's been having an amazing season. Just to be mentioned in the same breath, the fact that people are willing to spend 25 votes on these guys including myself, all over the world, it's amazing and I thank the fans."
Shortstop is the ballot's biggest study in contrast so far. In the AL, Yankees captain Derek Jeter, leading the AL with 75 hits as of Tuesday and perhaps headed for his 13th All-Star selection, has a sizeable lead over Elvis Andrus of the Rangers: 1,698,777 to 1,033,986 votes. Meanwhile, the closest race is at NL shortstop, where Troy Tulowitzki of the Rockies has a mere 20,458-vote margin over Rafael Furcal of the Cardinals.
First basemen Prince Fielder of the Tigers and Albert Pujols of the Angels both moved to the AL this season via free agency, and the early returns show that the former is the one to beat while the latter's standing seems to mirror his slow start. Fielder, the 2011 All-Star MVP, has 1,027,070 votes, more than 300,000 ahead of Mark Teixeira of the Yankees. Pujols, a perennial pick in his NL days with St. Louis, is in fifth with 478,020 votes.
Meanwhile, Joey Votto of the Reds is emphatically answering the question of who takes over for Pujols and Fielder in the NL. Votto has more than doubled the total of his closest challenger, with 1,314,516 votes compared to 634,473 for Lance Berkman of the Cardinals.
Kemp and the Dodgers broke out to a phenomenal start and clearly the early balloting weighed heavily in his vote total, even though he is on the DL for a second time this season. Kemp, second overall in voting only to Hamilton, is on course to be joined in the NL outfield by Carlos Beltran of the Cardinals and perennial online-vote powerhouse Ryan Braun of the Brewers.
Close races abound, including at catcher in both leagues. In the AL, Napoli (1,224,565) is bidding for his first All-Star nod, but behind him and seeking his second straight appearance is Matt Wieters (713,469) of the Orioles, who has had a strong first half. In the NL, Buster Posey of the Giants has come back from his 2011 injury to make a run at Yadier Molina of the Cardinals -- trailing by just 27,584.
Two seven-time All-Stars are battling for the early lead at designated hitter, where David Ortiz of the Red Sox has 1,204,904 votes, ahead of 1,049,170 for Michael Young of the Rangers.
Those hoping to see Atlanta's Chipper Jones in an eighth and final All-Star Game during his swan-song season will note that he is in third place at third base in the NL, with 727,710 votes. That's within striking distance, but David Wright of the Mets has a 32,086-vote cushion right now over David Freese of the Cardinals. In the AL, Miguel Cabrera, who had to move back to the hot corner to accommodate Fielder's arrival in Detroit, is presently trailing Beltre by 293,499 votes.
Dan Uggla of the Braves leads at NL second base with 872,136, and then there is a trio of players in the 500,000-plus level: Brandon Phillips of the Reds, Omar Infante of the Marlins and Rickie Weeks of the Brewers.
Joyce, hoping for a second straight All-Star selection, said he has developed a special appreciation for what it means to be considered in the same breath as his peers.
"When you're watching guys like Josh playing, it's almost like a video game," he said of Hamilton. "You don't really believe that these guys are doing it on the field. They're amazing players. It's not an easy game, not easy to put up those numbers, so there is a lot of respect for what they have done.
"At the end of the day, you want to be an All-Star. There's not a lot you can control with the votes, but it would be awesome to get in."
The MLB All-Star balloting program last year produced a record-shattering total of 32.5 million ballots cast. More than 20 million Firestone All-Star ballots will be distributed at the 30 Major League ballparks, each of which will have 23 dates for balloting, and in approximately 100 Minor League ballparks.
When the in-stadium phase of balloting concludes on June 22, fans will have the opportunity to cast their ballots exclusively online at MLB.com until 11:59 p.m. ET on June 28.
Firestone, the official tire of MLB, is once again the exclusive sponsor of the 2012 In-Stadium All-Star Balloting Program. The ballot features an All-Star sweepstakes, in which a winner will be rewarded with a trip for two to MLB All-Star Week, including airfare, hotel accommodations, tickets to the All-Star Game and other MLB All-Star Week events.
Scotts, the official lawn-care company of MLB, is once again the sponsor of the retail All-Star Balloting Program, which launched on May 4 in select Lowe's stores and Chevrolet dealerships across the country. The Scotts ballot includes an opportunity to enter for a chance to win a baseball field makeover using Scotts products for your community.
Banco BHD sponsors All-Star balloting in the Dominican Republic, making Spanish-language ballots available to fans in the Dominican Republic via LasMayores.com, the official Spanish-language website of Major League Baseball, and at All-Star balloting terminals across more than 80 branches. Coors Light provides offline All-Star balloting in 60 Wal-Mart and Amigo convenience stores throughout Puerto Rico, through Sunday.
The 2012 rosters will be unveiled July 1 on the 2012 MLB All-Star Game Selection Show presented by Taco Bell, televised nationally on TBS. The AL All-Star team will have nine elected starters via the fan balloting program, while the NL squad will have eight fan-elected starters. The pitchers and reserves for both squads -- totaling 25 for the NL and 24 for the AL -- will be determined through a combination of Player Ballot choices and selections made by the two All-Star managers -- AL skipper Ron Washington of the Rangers and NL manager Tony La Russa -- in conjunction with MLB.
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. Pregame ceremonies will begin at 8 p.m. ET. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, visit allstargame.com or royals.com/asg.
Prince Fielder, Tigers: 1,027,070
Mark Teixeira, Yankees: 697,602
Paul Konerko, White Sox: 671,430
Mitch Moreland, Rangers: 618,226
Albert Pujols, Angels: 478,020
Ian Kinsler, Rangers: 1,447,171
Robinson Cano, Yankees: 1,164,448
Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox: 699,422
Robert Andino, Orioles: 317,434
Chris Getz, Royals: 278,585
Adrian Beltre, Rangers: 1,179,864
Miguel Cabrera, Tigers: 886,365
Evan Longoria, Rays: 789,434
Alex Rodriguez, Yankees: 657,315
Mike Moustakas, Royals: 432,379
Derek Jeter, Yankees: 1,698,777
Elvis Andrus, Rangers: 1,033,986
J.J. Hardy, Orioles: 489,941
Alcides Escobar, Royals: 392,195
Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians: 344,065
Mike Napoli, Rangers: 1,224,565
Matt Wieters, Orioles: 713,469
Joe Mauer, Twins: 637,364
Russell Martin, Yankees: 431,435
A.J. Pierzynski, White Sox: 424,646
David Ortiz, Red Sox: 1,204,904
Michael Young, Rangers: 1,049,170
Raul Ibanez, Yankees: 492,183
Billy Butler, Royals: 477,257
Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays: 391,131
Josh Hamilton, Rangers: 2,587,991
Curtis Granderson, Yankees: 1,406,128
Nelson Cruz, Rangers: 992,992
Jose Bautista, Blue Jays: 930,814
Adam Jones, Orioles: 857,543
David Murphy, Rangers: 652,379
Nick Swisher, Yankees: 624,215
Brett Gardner, Yankees: 437,126
Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners: 433,899
Jeff Francoeur, Royals: 422,304
Austin Jackson, Tigers: 389,664
Nick Markakis, Orioles: 384,390
Alex Gordon, Royals: 378,459
Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox: 346,774
B.J. Upton, Rays: 277,173
Joey Votto, Reds: 1,314,516
Lance Berkman, Cardinals: 634,473
Freddie Freeman, Braves: 576,255
Bryan LaHair, Cubs: 391,497
Adam LaRoche, Nationals: 331,772
Dan Uggla, Braves: 872,136
Brandon Phillips, Reds: 586,835
Omar Infante, Marlins: 512,049
Rickie Weeks, Brewers: 512,021
Jose Altuve, Astros: 472,292
David Wright, Mets: 856,887
David Freese, Cardinals: 824,801
Chipper Jones, Braves: 727,719
Pablo Sandoval, Giants: 648,303
Aramis Ramirez, Brewers: 386,013
Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies: 823,708
Rafael Furcal, Cardinals: 803,254
Starlin Castro, Cubs: 526,811
Jose Reyes, Marlins: 425,682
Alex Gonzalez, Brewers: 399,218
Yadier Molina, Cardinals: 1,100,048
Buster Posey, Giants: 1,072,464
Brian McCann, Braves: 707,508
Carlos Ruiz, Phillies: 562,021
Jonathan Lucroy, Brewers: 457,590
Matt Kemp, Dodgers: 1,952,910
Carlos Beltran, Cardinals: 1,212,030
Ryan Braun, Brewers: 1,112,971
Andre Ethier, Dodgers: 827,262
Melky Cabrera, Giants: 714,642
Matt Holliday, Cardinals: 667,544
Jason Heyward, Braves: 515,340
Michael Bourn, Braves: 498,070
Jay Bruce, Reds: 460,853
Andrew McCutchen, Pirates: 457,223
Hunter Pence, Phillies: 446,460
Corey Hart, Brewers: 417,929
Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies: 386,860
Jon Jay, Cardinals: 373,833
Shane Victorino, Phillies: 373,034