07/06/2008 3:31 PM ET
2008 All-Star Game starters announced
Record 20 million ballots cast; New York's Rodriguez finishes as leading overall vote-getter; Philadelphia's Utley tops National League; Four Red Sox, three Cubs elected to start
New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez and Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Chase Utley have finished as Major League Baseball's leading vote-getters in a record year for fan balloting and will start in the 79th All-Star Game, to be played on Tuesday, July 15th as a part of the final season at Yankee Stadium. MLB's All-Star Balloting Program is the largest of its kind in professional sports. This year, an all-time high 20 million votes were cast. The 2008 American League and National League All-Star Teams were revealed today on the "MLB All-Star Game Selection Show presented by Chevy" on TBS.
Rodriguez, now a 12-time American League All-Star who has been fan-elected 11 times, earned Major League Baseball's highest vote total for the second consecutive year with 3,934,518, surpassing his total from last year (3,890,515). Rodriguez is the first player to be MLB's overall balloting leader in consecutive years since Ichiro Suzuki of the Seattle Mariners took top billing three years in a row from 2001-2003. Utley, who was the National League's leading vote-getter throughout the entire balloting process, tallied 3,889,602 votes. The 29-year-old will be the N.L.'s starting second baseman for the third consecutive year.
Rodriguez's teammate, nine-time All-Star Derek Jeter, has won his fourth starting assignment at shortstop, finishing second in the A.L. with 3,737,437 votes. The Yankee tandem will start alongside one another in the Midsummer Classic for the fourth time in the last five years. Ranking third in the A.L. is Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton, whose 3,708,709 votes have produced a starting berth in the All-Star Game in just his second Major League season.
Four members of the Boston Red Sox won their positions, including first baseman Kevin Youkilis (2,858,130) and second baseman Dustin Pedroia (2,492,698), both of whom held on in extraordinarily tight races with Justin Morneau (2,801,307) of the Minnesota Twins and Ian Kinsler (2,458,455) of the Rangers, respectively. Boston designated hitter David Ortiz, who is currently on the disabled list, is among the A.L.'s balloting winners for the fourth consecutive year and is now an All-Star for the fifth straight year with 3,554,209 votes. Red Sox outfielder Manny Ramirez has been named to the A.L. All-Star team for the 12th time - including his ninth election by fans - with 3,428,577 votes.
Hamilton and Ramirez will be joined in Terry Francona's A.L. outfield by eight-time All-Star Ichiro Suzuki (2,012,912) of the Seattle Mariners. Suzuki, last year's Ted Williams All-Star Game MVP presented by Chevrolet after he hit the first inside-the-park home run in Midsummer Classic history, has been elected to start for the seventh time in his Major League career. Behind the plate for the home side will be two-time All-StarJoe Mauer, who becomes the first catcher in Twins' history to be elected to start in the All-Star Game.
The National League All-Star starters include three members of the Chicago Cubs and four players who will be debuting in the Midsummer Classic. Geovany Soto (3,096,135 votes) will be just the second fan-elected starting rookie catcher ever, joining Sandy Alomar, Jr. of the Cleveland Indians in 1990, and the first fan-elected Cubs catcher since balloting returned to fans in 1970.
The Cubs also will send outfielders Alfonso Soriano (3,353,977), an All-Star for the sixth straight year, and Kosuke Fukudome (2,994,935), the first-year Major Leaguer who will become just the third Japanese position player to start in the All-Star Game, joining Ichiro and New York Yankees outfielder Hideki Matsui (a replacement in the A.L.'s starting lineup in 2003). Overall, Fukudome is the eighth Japanese native to make the Midsummer Classic. Fukudome, who was among the N.L.'s leading outfielders from the outset of balloting, edged out Cincinnati Reds veteran Ken Griffey, Jr. (2,907,746), the most popular player in the history of All-Star balloting.
Soriano and Fukudome will play alongside Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers in Clint Hurdle's starting outfield. Braun, who was as low as 10th among N.L. outfielders on June 3rd, capped a remarkable surge by not only joining the starting lineup in the final stages of balloting but also finishing as the leader at the position with 3,835,890 votes, second only to Utley's total among all N.L. players. The 2007 N.L. Rookie of the Year is the first Brewers outfielder ever elected by fans to start in the All-Star Game.
Joining Utley in the infield will be Chipper Jones of the Atlanta Braves, Major League Baseball's leading hitter, who won balloting at third base for the fourth time overall and the first time since 2001. It will be the sixth Midsummer Classic for Jones, whose 3,722,211 votes ranked third in the N.L. behind Utley and Braun. Across the diamond, five-time N.L. All-Star Lance Berkman (3,373,696) of the Houston Astros has won fan balloting for the first time in his career and will be the visiting side's starting first baseman. At shortstop, Hanley Ramirez (2,326,285) of the Florida Marlins has earned his first All-Star berth and becomes just the second player in franchise history to win his position in fan balloting. The only other Marlin to be a fan-elected starter was Gary Sheffield, who was the N.L.'s third baseman in 1993. Ramirez held off 2007 All-Star J.J. Hardy (2,207,730) of the Brewers, four-time All-Star Miguel Tejada (2,025,995) of the Astros and Ryan Theriot (2,003,743) of the Cubs for the starting position.
Fans now have the opportunity to select the final player for each League's 32-man roster at MLB.com. Now in its seventh year, the Monster 2008 All-Star Final Vote will provide fans the opportunity to cast their votes from a list of five players from each League over a four-day period. For the fourth year, fans will be able to vote for their Final Vote selections on their mobile phone. Both winners of the Monster All-Star Final Vote will be announced after the voting has concluded on Thursday, July 10th. Finally, fans once again will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the 79th All-Star Game's Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevrolet via the Monster All-Star Game MVP Vote on MLB.com.
The 79th Major League Baseball All-Star Game, being held at Yankee Stadium in its final season, will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 8 p.m. (EDT). The 2008 All-Star Game will be preceded by FOX's coverage of the "2008 All-Star Game Red Carpet Parade Presented by Chevy" along Sixth Avenue in Manhattan at 7 p.m. (EDT).
ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage of the 2008 All-Star Game that will also be available on XM Satellite Radio, while MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage. For the sixth consecutive year, the outcome of the All-Star Game will have an impact on postseason play, as the winning League in this year's All-Star Game will have home-field advantage in the 2008 World Series.