AL race has new leader at first base
Twins' Morneau takes slight lead over Yankees' Teixeira
Justin Morneau's hot lefty bat has put him up top in several offensive categories among American League first basemen. Now he can add a new one to that list: All-Star votes.
After previously trailing the Yankees' Mark Teixeira in fan voting for the starting lineups in the July 13 All-Star Game in Anaheim, Morneau jumped from second to first in the latest update released on Monday.
As it turned out, that was the only change at the top for the AL side.
Morneau's Twins teammate, Joe Mauer, remained the leading vote-getter with 1,886,188 votes. Yankees captain Derek Jeter has the second-most votes in the AL and easily leads all shortstops. Jeter's up-the-middle partner, Robinson Cano, remained ahead of the Red Sox's Dustin Pedroia. The Rays' Evan Longoria continued to pad his lead over the Yanks' Alex Rodriguez at third base. Vladimir Guerrero of the Rangers still paced the designated hitter category. And the top three outfielders were still Ichiro Suzuki (Mariners), Nelson Cruz (Rangers) and Carl Crawford (Rays), respectively.
Morneau trailed Teixeira by about 140,000 votes when the first batch of results were made available last month, then by a little more than 80,000 in the second update last week. But on Monday, the results had Morneau with 973,563 votes and Teixeira in second place with 931,405, making this the closest race in the league.
Morneau leads the AL with a .370 batting average. Among first basemen in the Junior Circuit, he ranks first in on-base percentage (.483), first in doubles (20), first in slugging percentage (.688), third in RBIs (40) and third in homers (13).
"What he's doing right now is incredible," Twins right fielder Michael Cuddyer said. "He's swinging the bat, playing great defense, playing every day, and it seems like any mistake a pitcher makes, he's taking advantage of it."
Teixeira, meanwhile, is batting .211 with eight homers in his first 57 games. But the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera, who's a rather distant third in votes with 659,965, is swinging a hot bat, as he ranks first in the AL in RBIs (52), second in homers (17) and fourth in batting average (.351).
Morneau has been to the All-Star Game each of the past three years but hasn't started. Last year, he was a reserve for the AL while Teixeira got the starting nod at Busch Stadium. Will this be the year he gets over the top?
Mauer -- batting .311 with a .385 on-base percentage and 24 RBIs -- has led the AL in fan votes all along. Second-place Jorge Posada of the Yankees (624,898 votes) is more than 1.2 million votes behind, making catcher the largest margin between first and second place in the AL.
Jeter, seeking his 11th All-Star Game appearance, sports 1,554,781 votes and has a comfortable lead over Rangers youngster Elvis Andrus (695,957).
Cano is holding strong at second base.
The 27-year-old lefty hitter -- seeking his second All-Star Game appearance and first since '06 -- has been raking in the early part of the season, ranking second in the AL in batting average (.363) while adding 12 homers and 45 RBIs. Cano has received 1,293,724 votes, which puts him more than 500,000 ahead of the second-place Pedroia (725,081). In less than a week, Cano's lead jumped from 323,567 to 568,643.
At third base, Longoria led over A-Rod by nearly 300,000 votes last week, and he increased that total once again, as his 1,403,566 votes led A-Rod's 956,419. Longoria is batting .312 with 11 homers and 44 RBIs for the Rays, who still sport the best record in the Majors, as he seeks his third All-Star Game appearance and first start. A-Rod is batting .294 with eight homers and 43 RBIs for the Yanks.
The top four in the outfield remained the same from last week, but the top three of Ichiro (918,730 votes), Cruz (809,902) and Crawford (806,202) got a little bit more separation, since the fourth-place Josh Hamilton (697,993) is more than 100,000 votes behind the third spot -- compared to about 70,000 last week. Meanwhile, the Yankees' Nick Swisher (587,977 votes) went from seventh last week to fifth this week.
Ichiro, batting .358 with 17 steals, shares the AL lead in hits with Cano (82). and he's seeking his 10th trip to the All-Star Game in as many years in the big leagues. This would be his ninth start if he stays in the top three.
At DH, Guerrero and his resurgent bat continues to lead with 1,210,521 votes, which is nearly double the total of the Angels' Hideki Matsui (638,237). The 35-year-old Guerrero -- an eight-time All-Star -- is hitting .335 with 12 homers and 47 RBIs in his first season in Texas.
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.