Votebook: Outfield depth shows
Big names lead in balloting, but so many are deserving
So many outfielders to choose from, so little time.
That's the situation in which All-Star voters are finding themselves with one more week of balloting for the starting lineups for the 76th All-Star Game, which will be played at Comerica Park in Detroit on July 12.
The usual suspects are leading the American and National leagues as of the latest balloting information released earlier in the week.
Who, after all, can argue with the top three in the AL -- Manny Ramirez (1,261,827 votes), Ichiro Suzuki (1,219,510) and reigning league Most Valuable Player Vladimir Guerrero (1,198,198)?
The interesting thing is that the top three spots are separated by fewer than 65,000 votes and Boston center fielder Johnny Damon is fourth at 1,116,371 votes, only about 80,000 behind Guerrero.
Of the remaining top 15 contenders, the Yankees' Gary Sheffield at No. 5 is having the best statistical season, with a .313 batting average, 13 home runs and 54 RBIs after Thursday's game.
Otherwise, it's a toss-up for who's deserving in the AL.
Scott Podsednik of the Chicago White Sox is ranked 10th in the voting but first in the Major Leagues in stolen bases with 36 and he's batting .289 while leading off for the team with the best record in baseball.
Garret Anderson, Mr. Steady for the Angels, is back to the usual Garret Anderson season we're accustomed to, and he's ranked 12th in the voting. The All-Star Game MVP and Home Run Derby champion of 2003 is batting .311 with 49 RBIs.
Aside from the ones who made the ballots, a few other AL outfielders deserve a look.
Kevin Mench of the Texas Rangers is batting .300 with 12 homers and 37 RBIs, and rookie Grady Sizemore is making his presence felt for the Cleveland Indians with a .307 batting average and 32 RBIs.
In the NL voting, the 2004 postseason dominance of Carlos Beltran still seems to be resonating with fans despite the fact that his move to the Mets hasn't exactly paid off statistically so far.
Beltran is comfortably ahead of perennial candidate and St. Louis Cardinals star Jim Edmonds, who ranks No. 2 in voting, and Philadelphia's solid and usually underrated Bobby Abreu is holding fast at No. 3 with a large lead on No. 4 vote-getter Miguel Cabrera, the young Florida Marlin who played in his first All-Star Game last year.
Ken Griffey Jr. of the Cincinnati Reds rounds out the top five, but there are quite a few NL outfielders having terrific seasons caught somewhere between Nos. 5 and 15.
Phillies outfielder Pat Burrell, for example, is healthy and hitting and ranks No. 8 in the balloting. He entered Friday's game with a .298 batting average, 15 homers and 57 RBIs.
Cliff Floyd of the Mets is ninth and has 17 homers, and Andruw Jones of the Atlanta Braves is making a surge at No. 10 after making a surge at the plate in the last few weeks to battle for the Major League lead in home runs. Entering Friday, he ranked second in the big leagues with 21 round-trippers.
Not listed on the top 15 were four players who could make a strong case for inclusion in the All-Star Game.
Jose Guillen of the Washington Nationals is batting .303 with 15 homers and 41 RBIs while becoming a team leader for a first-place club.
Brady Clark of the Milwaukee Brewers has been hitting all year. He's batting .328 with seven homers, 28 RBIs and 53 runs scored in 71 games.
And veterans Moises Alou of the San Francisco Giants and Luis Gonzalez of the Arizona Diamondbacks aren't letting recent injuries slow them down too badly.
Alou is batting .317 with 11 homers and 32 RBIs and Gonzalez has a .308 average with 10 long balls and 49 RBIs.
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.