AL races close at 1B, OF; Longoria pads lead
Morneau nears Teixeira; Cruz moves ahead of Crawford in AL
Is a changing of the guard occurring in the American League?
When the first update of AL vote totals for the All-Star Game was revealed last week, the only thing that prevented an all-Yankees infield was a slim lead at third base held by a youngster known simply as "Longo," who stood just ahead of established superstar Alex Rodriguez as the top vote-getter at the hot corner.
Last week, the distance between the two represented the closest race between first and second places in the AL infield.
Now, Evan Longoria's lead has increased.
The latest AL voting results for the July 13 All-Star Game at Angel Stadium in Anaheim were revealed on Tuesday, and they showed that the majority of fans really want Longoria to be the starting third baseman.
Longoria, who led A-Rod by fewer than 130,000 votes last week, increased his margin to nearly 300,000. The Rays slugger has received 915,247 votes, and A-Rod is in second place with 632,268.
The AL leaders remained the same from last week's update, though there were differences in leads. Twins catcher Joe Mauer and Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter still easily lead at their positions. Jeter's infield teammates, first baseman Mark Teixeira and second baseman Robinson Cano, are still pacing their positions. The Rangers' Vladimir Guerrero still holds the advantage in the designated-hitter category. And the AL starting outfield would still consist of the Mariners' Ichiro Suzuki, the Rangers' Nelson Cruz and the Rays' Carl Crawford if the voting ended today.
Cruz, though, moved ahead of Crawford into second place, and holds a lead of fewer of 9,000.
But while the outfield is close, it's becoming more apparent that nobody is going to touch Mauer behind the plate.
The reigning AL Most Valuable Player has 1,138,286 votes, which gives him the biggest lead at any position in the AL. The man behind him, Yankees veteran Jorge Posada, is more than 700,000 votes behind at 427,310.
Mauer ranks 10th in the AL with a .321 batting average and is tied for 10th with a .396 on-base percentage for the first-place Twins.
Meanwhile, it's his teammate and middle-of-the-order partner who seems to be making up the most ground.
The smallest lead in the AL infield is between Teixeira (610,851 votes) and the hot-hitting Justin Morneau, who sits about 83,000 votes behind with 527,688.
Morneau was nearly 140,000 votes behind last week. But he's batting .467 in his last five games and currently ranks first in the AL in batting average (.377), tied for seventh in homers (11) and tied for eighth in RBIs (36). Teixeira, meanwhile, has recovered from a poor April but overall he is hitting just .221 with eight homers in 51 games.
But the man to Teixeira's right on the Yankees infield, Cano, is holding strong in his lead of Dustin Pedroia of the Red Sox. Cano, with 811,300 votes, holds a lead of more than 300,000, likely due to his .363 batting average, 11 homers and 40 RBIs. Cano is aiming to make his first All-Star Game appearance since 2006.
Meanwhile, Jeter has a vice grip on his position as he aims for his 11th All-Star Game appearance and seventh as a starter. The Captain ranks second in AL vote totals with 1,005,810. The second-place Elvis Andrus of the Rangers has 438,731.
In the DH category, Guerrero (725,752) increased his lead over the second-place Hideki Matsui of the Angels from fewer than 80,000 last week to about 260,000 this week. Perhaps a two-homer, five-RBI game last Tuesday had a little something to do with it.
Ichiro (604,675), batting .340, continues to pace the outfielders. Cruz jumped over Crawford, and creeping in close to the speedy Crawford is Cruz's Texas teammate, Josh Hamilton, who, at 462,556 votes, is fewer than 70,000 shy of notching one of the top three spots in the outfield. The Angels' Torii Hunter isn't much further behind.
Longoria, meanwhile, ranks third in the AL in RBIs (42), ninth in batting average (.323) and has hit 10 home runs for the team with the best record in baseball.
This would be Longoria's third All-Star Game in as many years in the big leagues but his first start. Since moving over to third base in 2004, Rodriguez -- a 12-time All-Star -- has started at the hot corner in five out of six seasons. But he missed last year's Midsummer Classic and looks to be giving way in 2010 to Longoria, one of the brightest up-and-coming stars in the game.
Unless Yankees fans can help.
Fans can cast their votes for starters up to 25 times at MLB.com and all 30 club sites using the 2010 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Sprint until July 1 at 11:59 p.m. ET. Sprint subscribers can now vote on the go with select Sprint devices. They can learn more about how to vote on their smart phones at MLB.com/Sprint.
Starting rosters will be announced during the 2010 All-Star Game Selection Show on TBS on July 4. Baseball fans around the world will then be able to select the final player on each team via the 2010 All-Star Game Final Vote Sponsored by Sprint.
And the voting doesn't end there. Fans will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet at the Midsummer Classic via the 2010 All-Star Game MVP Vote Sponsored by Sprint.
The All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX and around the world by Major League Baseball International. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio play-by-play, while MLB.com will offer extensive online coverage.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.