06/06/05 3:34 PM ET
All-Star voters owe Beltre one
Third baseman missed Midsummer Classic in 2004
By Jim Street / MLB.com
After all, he was coming off a breakthrough season with the Dodgers. He batted .334, hit a Major League-best 48 home runs, drove in 121 runs and finished second to Barry Bonds in voting for the National League's Most Valuable Player Award.
And you could say the voters owed him one because the Mariners' new third baseman didn't receive enough support in his terrific 2004 season to land a spot on the senior circuit's starting lineup for the Midsummer Classic played at Minute Maid Park in Houston.
Nor was he selected as a reserve, despite batting .353 in April, .283 in May and .354 in June, belting 17 home runs and driving in 52 runs heading into July.
But it has been a different story this season as the 25-year-old struggles to adjust to a new league and different pitchers.
Beltre's batting average has hovered around the .250 mark so far this year, his home runs are down and so are his RBIs. And after being third among vote-getters following the first week of fan voting, Beltre -- who has received 192,449 votes -- has slipped to fourth, behind Alex Rodriguez, Bill Mueller and Melvin Mora for the American League's starting third baseman.
While Beltre went down one notch, Mariners right fielder Ichiro Suzuki, who has received 707,654 votes, moved from third to second among outfielders. He trails only Red Sox left fielder Manny Ramirez.
Ichiro has been voted onto the American League All-Star team in each of his four Major League seasons and is well on his way to extending that streak to five at the 2005 Midsummer Classic, which will be played July 12 at Comerica Park in Detroit.
Ichiro passed Angels right fielder and reigning AL Most Valuable Player Vladimir Guerrero, who currently is on the 15-day disabled list with a partially dislocated left shoulder.
Mariners second baseman Bret Boone, with 131,258 votes, remained fifth in voting at his position, as did first baseman Richie Sexson, who has 201,264 votes and ranks among the league leaders in home runs and RBIs.
Fans can cast their votes up to 25 times with the Ameriquest All-Star Online Ballot, which is available exclusively at MLB.com and all 30 club sites. Ballots also are being punched at each Major League ballpark. Online balloting ends at 11:59 p.m. ET on June 30.
From July 3-6, fans will once again be able to participate in the Ameriquest All-Star Final Vote, which determines the final position player for each League's 32-man roster.
Ichiro was Seattle's only representative at the All-Star Game last year, but he could have company this season. Closer Eddie Guardado, a two-time All-Star with the Twins (2002-03), has been practically automatic saving games this season.
He entered the month of June with 15 saves in 16 save opportunities and a string of 21 consecutive batters retired. If "Everyday" Eddie maintains that level of performance, AL All-Star manager Terry Francona will find it impossible to deny Guardado a spot on his pitching staff.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.