Utley surges up NL All-Star ranks
SS battle between Hanley, Tejada one of several close races
Chase Utley's record-setting season continues to lift the Philadelphia second baseman's All-Star campaign to lofty heights, according to the latest updated National League voting tallies released by Major League Baseball on Tuesday.
Utley, who is bidding to be the NL starting second baseman at the All-Star Game for the third consecutive year, has received an NL-leading 847,628 votes. He has more support than any candidate in either league thus far except Boston's designated hitter, David Ortiz (893,915).
Utley leads Chicago's Mark DeRosa, who passed Houston's Kazuo Matsui for second place in the NL second-base balloting, by more than a half-million votes.
While the eight position leaders in the NL remained the same as last week, the races remain wide open.
Chicago's Geovany Soto, attempting to become the first NL rookie catcher to start a Midsummer Classic, still leads at the position after padding his lead to roughly 200,000. Teammates Alfonso Soriano and Kosuke Fukudome are running 1-2 in the outfield balloting ahead of Cincinnati's Ken Griffey Jr.
Other NL leaders on the infield besides Utley are Houston first baseman Lance Berkman, Atlanta third baseman Chipper Jones and Florida shortstop Hanley Ramirez.
Ramirez's lead over Houston's Miguel Tejada shrank to fewer than 8,000 votes in what is the closest campaign in either league. The Marlins' five-tool talent has received 418,197 votes compared to 410,553 for Tejada. Right on the heels of those two are Jose Reyes of the Mets, Ryan Theriot of the Cubs and Jimmy Rollins of the Phillies.
Candidates for the July 15 All-Star Game have plenty of time to gain ground, and can do so very quickly, as the Arizona Diamondbacks demonstrated in the latest totals.
Arizona second baseman Orlando Hudson pulled in nearly 150,000 votes in the past week to vault to fifth place in the second-base balloting. Teammate Mark Reynolds jumped to fourth in the third-base voting, trailing Jones, David Wright of the Mets and Aramis Ramirez of the Cubs. Diamondbacks catcher Chris Snyder moved to fifth and outfielder Justin Upton from 12th to eighth.
The 79th Midsummer Classic will be the fourth held at Yankee Stadium and the eighth in New York City. The Yankees previously hosted the All-Star Game in 1939, 1960 and 1977; the Polo Grounds held the game in 1934 and 1942; Ebbets Field was the site in 1949; and Shea Stadium hosted the 1964 Midsummer Classic.
Fans can cast their votes for starters up to 25 times with the Monster 2008 All-Star Online Ballot at MLB.com and all 30 club sites until Wednesday, July 2, at 11:59 p.m. ET.
Starting rosters will be announced during the 2008 All-Star Game Selection Show presented by Chevrolet on TBS on Sunday, July 6. Baseball fans around the world will then be able to select the final player on each team via the Monster 2008 All-Star Final Vote at MLB.com.
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 presented by Chevrolet at the All-Star Game via the Monster 2008 All-Star Game MVP vote at MLB.com.
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.
Utley was named the National League Player of the Week on Monday for the week of May 26-June 1. He led the Majors with five home runs, 14 RBIs, and 25 total bases, and ranked second in the league with a 1.087 slugging percentage. The 29-year-old hit .391 with nine runs scored and a .500 on-base percentage.
Utley connected against the Reds on Monday for his Major League-leading 21th home run and his fifth home run in as many games. On Sunday, he became the first second baseman in Major League history to reach the 20-homer mark in fewer than 60 games (58 games) into a season. The previous mark was held by Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby, who hit his 20th homer of the 1925 season in the Cardinals' 61st game of the year.
Berkman, named NL Player of the Month for May on Monday, saw his lead over Albert Pujols of St. Louis grow from 12,000 to almost 100,000 during the past week. Soriano holds a lead of nearly 80,000 votes over Fukudome for the top spot in the outfield balloting.
Griffey, a 13-time All-Star selection who was the NL's leading vote getter last season with 2,916,818 votes, trails Fukudome by approximately 62,000 votes. Griffey, who needs one home run to reach 600 for his career, has been elected by fans to start the All-Star Game more times than any player except Cal Ripken Jr. (17) and Rod Carew (15).
Several others are within 200,000 votes of a starting berth in the NL outfield, including Upton, Carlos Beltran of the Mets, Matt Holliday of the Rockies, Pat Burrell of the Phillies, Carlos Lee of the Astros, Rick Ankiel of the Cardinals and Ryan Braun of the Brewers.
The first-place Cubs have seven players currently in the top five of the voting. NL East leader Philadelphia has four: Utley, Rollins, Burrell and first baseman Ryan Howard.
Jim Molony is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.