NL voting remains close as races approach wire
Pujols, on DL with broken forearm, enjoying lead at first base
The decision for National League first baseman got a lot more interesting on Monday.
Major League Baseball rules stipulate that if a player is voted by fans to start the All-Star Game, but is unavailable to play due to injury, then the starter at that position shall be the player other than him who finishes highest on the Player Ballot.
On the same day the Cardinals announced they will be without Albert Pujols for the next four to six weeks due to a non-displaced fracture in his right forearm, the latest NL balloting update for the July 12 All-Star Game in Phoenix was released and Pujols leads at first with 2,806,864 votes. Behind him are Cincinnati's Joey Votto with 2,270,211 and Milwaukee's Prince Fielder with 2,066,327.
Should Pujols maintain that lead and be announced as a starter, his replacement in the starting lineup will not be up to NL manager Bruce Bochy, but rather to Pujols' peers. The Player Ballot polling happens before Selection Sunday. Should Pujols finish first on the Player Ballot, the No. 2 finisher would start at first for the NL.
That could likely be either Votto, batting .327 with nine home runs and 43 RBIs, or Fielder, hitting .301 with 20 homers and 61 RBIs.
Pujols topped the Player Ballot the past two years at first. Fielder did so in 2007.
Meanwhile, as most stadium polls close and the clock continues to wind down for online voting, the races for many of the starting spots on the NL squad remain tight.
The top three players at each position were unchanged this week with the most recent voting results, but the starting positions at first base, second base, outfield and shortstop are particularly close.
Mets shortstop Jose Reyes (1,972,820), who leads the NL with a .341 batting average, continues to narrow the gap on Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki (2,385,991). Tulowitzki led by more than 624,000 votes two weeks ago and nearly 580,000 last week. Now his lead is about 413,000.
Cincinnati's Brandon Phillips (2,286,378) is slightly ahead of Milwaukee's Rickie Weeks (2,094,502) in the second-base race. Weeks entered Monday with 16 hits and six RBIs in his past 10 games.
The league's top vote-getter and only player eclipsing the three million-vote mark, Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun (3,034,057), continues to head the way for the outfield spots ahead of the Cardinals duo of Lance Berkman (2,562,428) and Matt Holliday (2,390,118), though Los Angeles' Matt Kemp is closing in on the third spot with 2,062,667 votes.
Kemp was tied with Fielder for the league lead in home runs and was third in RBIs (57) on Monday morning. His teammate Andre Ethier is in the fifth spot with 1,889,298 votes.
Philadelphia's Placido Polanco (2,599,925) appears poised to take the starting spot at third base, leading Atlanta's Chipper Jones (1,558,895) by more than one million votes. Meanwhile, Braves catcher Brian McCann (2,301,252) remains well ahead of St. Louis' Yadier Molina (1,836,490) and injured Giants backstop Buster Posey (1,573,484). McCann, a five-time All-Star, was the MVP of last year's Midsummer Classic as he led the NL to its first win since 1996.
Fans can cast their votes for starters up to 25 times at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- online or via a mobile device -- using the 2011 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Sprint until June 30 at 11:59 p.m. ET.
The only NL clubs remaining with open in-stadium voting are the Pirates (ends Monday), Marlins (Monday), Giants (Tuesday), Brewers (Tuesday) and Cardinals (Wednesday).
Rosters will be announced during the 2011 All-Star Game Selection Show on TBS on July 3. Baseball fans around the world will then be able to select the final player on each team via the 2011 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 2011 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.
Brian McCann, Braves: 2,301,252
Yadier Molina, Cardinals: 1,836,490
Buster Posey, Giants: 1,573,484
Jonathan Lucroy, Brewers: 1,098,507
Carlos Ruiz, Phillies: 1,095,081
Albert Pujols, Cardinals: 2,806,864
Joey Votto, Reds: 2,270,211
Prince Fielder, Brewers: 2,066,327
Ryan Howard, Phillies: 1,477,478
Freddie Freeman, Braves: 559,762
Brandon Phillips, Reds: 2,286,378
Rickie Weeks, Brewers: 2,094,502
Chase Utley, Phillies: 1,827,194
Dan Uggla, Braves: 1,012,370
Freddy Sanchez, Giants: 987,606
Placido Polanco, Phillies: 2,599,925
Chipper Jones, Braves: 1,558,895
Pablo Sandoval, Giants: 1,302,098
David Wright, Mets: 1,228,710
Scott Rolen, Reds: 1,102,626
Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies: 2,385,991
Jose Reyes, Mets: 1,972,820
Jimmy Rollins, Phillies: 1,354,896
Alex Gonzalez, Braves: 928,992
Yuniesky Betancourt, Brewers: 860,163
Ryan Braun, Brewers: 3,034,057
Lance Berkman, Cardinals: 2,562,428
Matt Holliday, Cardinals: 2,390,118
Matt Kemp, Dodgers: 2,062,667
Andre Ethier, Dodgers: 1,889,298
Jay Bruce, Reds: 1,681,613
Shane Victorino, Phillies: 1,357,115
Carlos Beltran, Mets: 1,261,308
Jason Heyward, Braves: 1,059,581
Raul Ibanez, Phillies: 982,046
Justin Upton, D-backs: 950,047
Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies: 944,666
Corey Hart, Brewers: 910,550
Martin Prado, Braves: 830,105
Alfonso Soriano, Cubs: 804,303