SEATTLE -- As voting on the 2015 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot hits its final days, Mariners slugger Nelson Cruz has surged past Kendrys Morales of the Royals into first place for the starting designated-hitter spot on the American League team.
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Cruz outpolled Morales by about 491,000 votes in the last week, taking about a 205,000 vote lead in the closest race on the AL ballot, according to results released Monday by Major League Baseball. Voting concludes Thursday at 8:59 p.m. PT.
Cruz has garnered 8,891,784 votes, while Morales is at 8,686,879. The latest results also showed Josh Donaldson of the Blue Jays moving past the Royals' Mike Moustakas at third base, leaving five Royals currently leading at their positions after as many as eight had topped the charts in previous weeks.
The five Royals currently retaining starting spots are catcher Salvador Perez, second baseman Omar Infante , shortstop Alcides Escobar and outfielders Lorenzo Cain and Alex Gordon.
In addition to Cruz and Donaldson, the other non-Royal leaders in the latest results are Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera and Angels center fielder Mike Trout.
Cruz certainly has made a strong case as the AL's starting candidate at DH for a second straight year. He enters Monday's play tied for second in the league in home runs (19), fourth in slugging percentage (.552), sixth in OPS (.920), ninth in batting average (.305), tied for 12th in RBIs (46) and 13th in on-base percentage (.368).
Morales, seeking his first All-Star selection, is batting .291 with nine home runs, 48 RBIs and has a .464 slugging percentage and .815 OPS.
No other Mariners are ranked in the top five positon players or top 15 outfielders in the voting, not even second baseman Robinson Cano, a six-time All-Star who had been elected the AL starter for the past five years, but is hitting just .241 with four homers and 24 RBIs this season.
Third baseman Kyle Seager, who was named to his first All-Star team last year, is not currently among the AL voting leaders, either, despite ranking fourth among the league's third basemen in home runs (12), RBIs (38) and slugging percentage (.444), and fifth in OPS (.760).
Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com and all 30 club sites on their computers, tablets and smartphones using the 2015 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot until Thursday at 8:59 p.m. PT. For the first time, voting is exclusively online, where fans may submit up to 35 ballots.
Fans may also receive the ballot by texting VOTE to 89269 in the U.S. and 101010 in Canada, or by texting VOTA for a ballot in Spanish. Message and data rates may apply. Up to five messages. No purchase required. Reply STOP to cancel. Reply HELP for info.
The 2015 All-Star starters will be revealed on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. PT on the Esurance All-Star Starters Selection Show on ESPN. Then, on Monday at 4 p.m. PT, the All-Star reserves, pitchers and Final Vote candidates will be announced on the Esurance All-Star Selection Show on ESPN, immediately after which fans can return to MLB.com to begin casting their 2015 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Votes for the final player for each league's All-Star roster.
Final Vote ends Friday, July 10, at 1 p.m. PT. As the All-Star Game airs, on Tuesday, July 14, visit MLB.com to submit your choice for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award, presented by Chevrolet via the 2015 MLB All-Star Game MVP Vote.
MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage of All-Star Week festivities.
The 86th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX, 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 SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.
Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB, read his Mariners Musings blog, and listen to his podcast.