07/04/2004 10:13 PM ET
Soriano finishes as top vote-getter
Texas second baseman ends Ichiro's reign as leader
By Mark Newman / MLB.com
|Alfonso Soriano led all players with 3,466,447 votes. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
A last-week surge of votes by fans has put Ichiro Suzuki into the American League starting outfield again for the July 13 All-Star Game in Houston, but for the first time in his four-year Major League Baseball career, someone other than the Mariners star was the top overall vote-getter.
Texas second baseman Alfonso Soriano -- headed to his third consecutive All-Star Game, and first with his new club -- officially ended Ichiro's streak by leading all Major League players with 3,466,447 votes when the starting position players for both leagues were announced Sunday.
Soriano was also the top online vote-getter, collecting a record total of 3,056,277 votes at MLB.com.
St. Louis third baseman Scott Rolen was the top vote-getter in the National League, garnering 3,187,710 votes. Rolen is the fourth Cardinal player to earn that distinction and the second in a row, following Albert Pujols last year.
Soriano was traded by the Yankees before the start of this season for Alex Rodriguez, who will join him in the AL starting infield at third base, and Soriano's presence has helped lift the Rangers from also-rans to contention all season at the top of the AL West standings. The Rangers were 44-34 and a half-game behind Oakland through Saturday's games.
"It was great to get the news," said Soriano, one of five Rangers to make the AL roster. "I feel very good. I'm having a lot of fun now and it will be nice to see all my friends."
After consecutive seasons of at least 30 homers and 30 stolen bases for the Yankees, Soriano's pace as a Ranger is just short of that, with 14 homers and eight steals in 78 games. He is on pace for a 200-hit season, batting .292 with 50 RBIs. His glove work has been solid, and he has brought a winning mentality to Texas while solidifying the club up the middle along with converted shortstop Michael Young.
A six-hit game on May 9 and a two-run walk-off homer in the bottom of the 18th inning on June 24 (ending the longest game of this season) were vivid examples of his impact this season -- and of his hold on baseball fans.
Before his return home to Yankee Stadium for a recent series, Soriano took special delight in how the Rangers have progressed since his arrival.
"When a team has young, talented players, there's a chance for that team to make a big move forward," Soriano said. "We've been working hard for nine innings every day and it has been paying off. But we've got to show we can be consistent over the whole season. We have to stay with it and do all the little things if we're going to make a run for the playoffs."
Soriano was the voting leader when the first balloting updates were released in May, and he never looked back. Last year, he was passed in the last two weeks of voting by Ichiro, and wound up finishing second to the outfielder for most AL votes (and fourth overall in the Majors) by a margin of 2,130,708 to 1,850,890.
Suzuki had been the first player, since balloting was given back to fans in 1970, to be the top All-Star vote-getter in each of his first three Major League seasons.
Rolen is the fourth Cardinal to lead the NL in votes, and gives the Cardinals back-to-back top vote-getter claims. Last year, Pujols led the NL with 2,030,702 votes to lead all NL players. Mark McGwire had the most NL votes in 1998 and Ozzie Smith did it in 1987-88 and 1994.
Mark Newman is enterprise editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.