Polanco a new leader on AL ballot
Second baseman surpasses Cano; race at catcher heats up
A new leader among second basemen. The catchers posse closing in on Pudge Rodriguez. And those doing the chasing in the division races leading the chase to San Francisco's AT&T Park.In a nutshell, there is your weekly update on the voting progress for the American League All-Stars in next month's 78th Annual Midsummer Classic. As announced Tuesday afternoon and reflective of both paper and online balloting, the left side of the New York Yankees infield maintained its runaway leads. Both third baseman Alex Rodriguez and shortstop Derek Jeter have leads of 750,000-plus votes over their competition. Another cog of the Bombers infield, however, fell out of the lead. Second baseman Robinson Cano held a slim lead of 8,214 votes over Placido Polanco in the first weekly update and now trails the Detroit second sacker by nearly 52,000. While online voting will continue to bear a heavy influence until the cyber polls close at the end of the day on June 28, the in-stadium booths are gradually being shuttered. Each Major League club has 25 home dates during which it is conducting balloting, while Minor League clubs have 15 home dates for balloting. The in-stadium program will conclude at Minor League ballparks by June 16 and at Major League parks no later than June 22. However, balloting has already ended for two teams (Rangers and Giants) and no fewer than 19 others will be pulling the plugs prior to the next voting update, on June 18. In what remains the tightest and most competitive campaign, Tigers perennial All-Star Ivan Rodriguez held firm atop the backstop standings. Rodriguez, who last week led by 31,300 votes in his quest for a 14th All-Star berth, even opened up an edge of roughly 112,000 votes. But his hottest pursuer changed from Minnesota's Joe Mauer -- only recently activated after a month on the disabled list with a strained quad muscle -- to the Yankees' Jorge Posada. Two months shy of his 36th birthday, Posada is having the season Mauer had in 2006. In becoming the first catcher to ever lead the AL in batting, Mauer hit .347 last season. Posada takes a .358 average into Tuesday night's games, second in the league to Magglio Ordonez.
Speaking of whom .... Ordonez remains on the outside looking in as the top tier of outfielders remained unchanged. Again, Vladimir Guerrero, Manny Ramirez and Ichiro Suzuki ran one-two-three.Ordonez tops the second tier, a mere 113,000 votes behind third-place Ichiro. The Twins' Torii Hunter and Grady Sizemore of the Indians are running fifth and sixth. Sizemore thus remains in hot contention for some individual honors to spruce up the Indians' collective thrust for a Central Division title. At this juncture, however, the Tribe only boasts a couple of other fifth-place candidates, first baseman Travis Hafner and catcher Victor Martinez. But that's one of the interesting aspects of these early standings. The league's front-runners aren't running away with anything here. In fact, besides Ramirez, whose runner-up status among outfielders of course is good enough to have him in position to start, only two players on division-leading teams sit atop the charts. And one of them doesn't actually "play" that position on a regular basis: Boston designated hitter David Ortiz, who, with the All-Star Game set for a National League city, is on the ballot as a first baseman and is doubling up defending MVP Justin Morneau, 1,055,260 to 519,432. The other is Guerrero, the magnetic Angels outfielder whose 1,118,951 votes are 900,000 more than that of any teammate (Orlando Cabrera, fifth among shortstops with 217,360). Fans can vote at MLB.com and all 30 club sites until 11:59 p.m. ET on June 28, and then they will resume voting immediately after the 2007 MLB "All-Star Game Selection Show" presented by Chevrolet, which will be televised by TBS on July 1. Baseball fans around the world will be able to select the 32nd and final player on each All-Star team via the Monster.com 2007 All-Star Final Vote. Selecting the rosters isn't the end of the fun in 2007, either. Concluding the All-Star balloting process, fans will have the opportunity to vote for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevrolet at the All-Star Game via the Monster.com 2007 All-Star Game MVP vote at MLB.com. The All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage, while MLB.com will offer extensive online coverage and MLB Radio will have exclusive play-by-play coverage of the game on the Internet.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.