Pedroia, Kinsler shining at second base
Two AL infielders battling for starting role in All-Star Game
Second base has become a premier run-producing position in the American League, and two of the biggest reasons why are named Dustin Pedroia and Ian Kinsler.
The two have spent the past two months battling each other every week for the top spot in American League All-Star voting at their position, and it's going right down to the wire. Taking a look at their impressive career resumes and 2009 statistics, it's not surprising that the race has narrowed to a mere 6,830 votes, with the Rangers' Kinsler holding that slim lead.
Pedroia, who won the AL Rookie of the Year Award in 2007 and also got a World Series ring with the Red Sox that year, followed those accolades with an All-Star appearance, Gold Glove Award and AL Most Valuable Player Award in 2008. Now, before his 26th birthday in August, he's a proven team leader.
Pedroia has heated up again after a brief slump and raised his batting average to .288. He's also scored 54 runs in 73 games, and he's drawn 37 walks while striking out 22 times in 292 at-bats. All of this despite a recent 1-for-28 skid in early June.
"I'll be fine," Pedroia said right before busting out of that skid. "You go through tough times during the season when you play so hard and so many games. You're going to have tough bumps in the road, but you get back on track."
Kinsler, meanwhile, has been on track all season.
A first-time All-Star with the Rangers last year, Kinsler has already belted 18 homers in 74 games this season after compiling the same number of long balls over a 121-game season in 2008.
Kinsler's slugging percentage is at a career-high .517, too, making him a legitimate middle-of-the-order threat for any lineup, even though he usually leads off in Texas' slugger-stocked batting order.
And most important, the Rangers are in a battle for first place in the AL West, something Kinsler's contributions have been a big part of. All of it adds up to a race to the finish for the top slot at second base for the 80th All-Star Game, which will be played July 14 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.
"That's awesome," Kinsler said of still maintaining a slim lead. "I'm still up. I'm sure there will be 2,000 people in Boston who will vote for Dustin. Hopefully 8,000 more will vote for me. We need New York but they've got their own second baseman. Who knows? I'd love to be in St. Louis rather than the lake, whether I'm a starter or not."
Kinsler remained humble, though, when asked if he deserved to be ahead in the voting.
"It's tough to say," he said. "There are a lot of second basemen who have had very good first halves. I'm not saying anybody deserves or doesn't deserve to go. I want to go. I don't know what else to say."
In-stadium voting has ended, but fans can still vote online for starters up to 25 times with the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint Online Ballot at MLB.com and all 30 club sites until Thursday at 11:59 p.m. ET.
Starting rosters will be announced during the 2009 All-Star Game Selection Show presented by Pepsi on TBS on July 5. Baseball fans around the world will then be able to select the final player on each team via the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint 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 Award presented by Chevrolet at the Midsummer Classic via the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint 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.