Vlad moves into lead among outfielders
Yanks, Red Sox continue to hold all other leading spots
The Eastern bloc of the American League lost its exclusive grip on the All-Star voting leaderboard -- but just barely -- as a guardian Angel looking out for the rest of the league broke through.The latest balloting results, released Tuesday, for the AL's starting lineup in the 77th Annual All-Star Game on July 11 in Pittsburgh's PNC Park revealed that Vladimir Guerrero of the Los Angeles Angels has assumed the lead among outfielders. Following a banner ballot week during which he received 231,000 votes, Guerrero moved 7,000 ahead of last week's leader, Boston's Manny Ramirez. Guerrero's total of 745,397 votes also project him to be in a heated three-way race with the left side of New York's infield for the distinction of being the league's overall most popular candidate. Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter continues to lead all players with 765,110 votes, and third base leader Alex Rodriguez has drawn 731,811 votes. A third member of the Bombers infield, second baseman Robinson Cano, also held onto his lead. Meanwhile, a couple of Red Sox continued to set the pace at the two other positions on the ballot: first baseman David Ortiz and catcher Jason Varitek. Rosters for the 77th All-Star Game will be released at 7 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 2. The announcement will reveal the 16 elected starters, as determined by fan balloting, and 45 pitchers and reserves, as determined by the player ballot, the two All-Star team managers -- Ozzie Guillen of the World Series champion Chicago White Sox and Phil Garner of the NL champion Houston Astros -- and Major League Baseball. Fans will once again have the opportunity to select the final position player for each league's 32-man roster on MLB.com. The Final Vote will provide fans the opportunity to cast their votes from a list of five players from each league over a three-day period. Fans added Roy Oswalt (NL) and Scott Podsednik (AL) to the rosters with the Final Vote last summer. Although there were some significant shifts on the lower ends of the leaderboard, New York and Boston continue to run 1-2 at half of the six positions -- as fans' votes faithfully mirror the clubs' tango atop the American League East. One exception obvously is in the outfield, where new runner-up Ramirez is followed by Johnny Damon's take of 529,770 votes. Baltimore shortstop Miguel Tejada (526,622) remains in a contending position, trailing Jeter by 139,000 but opening up a lead of 329,000 over third-place Michael Young of the Rangers. At first base, New York's Jason Giambi (433,308) trails Ortiz by 198,000. At second base, where the two rivals seem destined to carry out their most heated showdown, Cano (404,416) holds a lead of 36,000 votes over Boston's Mark Loretta. And at third base, the remarkable comeback season of Boston's Mike Lowell isn't likely to include making a comeback against A-Rod, who leads him by 414,000 votes.
Varitek is in a dogfight for his second consecutive All-Star Game start with Detroit's Ivan Rodriguez, a Midsummer Classic staple behind the plate. The Boston captain's lead has shrunk to 50,000 votes over Pudge, with the Yankees' Jorge Posada running a close third, another 61,000 behind I-Rod.Among the runner-up trio in the outfield, Toronto's Vernon Wells, doubtless riding the celebrity of his first career three-homer game last Tuesday, charged into fifth place. Wells picked up 123,000 votes during the week to rally into a 5,000-vote lead over the Yankees' Gary Sheffield. Ichiro Suzuki of the Mariners remains fourth with a total of 413,737. The weekly voting update revealed three other changes among the tracked leaders, which include the top 15 outfielders and the top five at the other positions. At second base, Detroit's Placido Polanco rallied from fifth to fourth and now holds a lead of 8,000 votes over Brian Roberts of the Orioles. Among catchers, Chicago's A.J. Pierzynski, who last week trailed Victor Martinez by 16,000 votes, leap-frogged the Cleveland receiver to move into fourth by 160 votes. The only newcomer on the leaderboard is Detroit outfielder Magglio Ordonez, who vaulted all the way to No. 13 with a total of 159,982. Texas' Kevin Mench dropped out of the leaders. Toronto's Alex Rios continued to lead in write-in votes, his total of 103,084 leaving him with a chance of cracking the top 15. Having a name easy to spell may help. A Major League-leading .358 average doesn't hurt, either. For the fourth consecutive year, the league that wins the All-Star Game will receive home-field advantage during the World Series. The AL has won all three Midsummer Classics since that provision was added in 2003 and eight straight overall.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.