© 2010 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

06/21/10 2:10 PM ET

Hamilton ahead in All-Star battle of mates

Rangers left fielder moves into third place; Cruz drops to fourth

With a little more than a week remaining for fans to decide the American League starting lineup for the 81st All-Star Game, the most heated competition is currently taking place among outfield teammates.

Rangers right fielder Nelson Cruz sat in the top three since voting began, but Josh Hamilton's scorching bat put him within 87,000 votes as of last week.

Now, for the first time, Hamilton -- a serious candidate for AL Player of the Month honors -- has jumped into the top three, while his Texas teammate has been pushed out.

In the latest update of AL voting results for the Midsummer Classic in Anaheim released on Monday, Hamilton sits in third place among outfielders and a little more than 50,000 votes ahead of the fourth-place Cruz. That means if the voting ended now, Hamilton would join an AL starting lineup that would include catcher Joe Mauer, first baseman Justin Morneau, second baseman Robinson Cano, shortstop Derek Jeter, third baseman Evan Longoria, designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero and co-outfielders Ichiro Suzuki and Carl Crawford.

But the voting isn't over, and won't until the end of the day on July 1. So there's plenty of time for more shaking up of the current outfield picture -- and maybe even the one at first base, too.

In a one-week span in which all of the other leaders increase their advantages -- and Mauer continues to lead the AL in votes with 3,280,565 -- it's the outfield that remains tightly bunched, as fewer than 200,000 votes separate first and fourth place.

Ichiro, sporting a typical .336 batting average, has paced the group all year, but with 1,567,788 votes, he's only about 120,000 ahead of the second-place Crawford as he looks to make his 10th All-Star Game appearance in as many years in the big leagues. Crawford, with 1,445,615 votes and a .307 batting average, is only about 14,000 votes ahead of the third-place Hamilton. And Hamilton, seeking to make his third consecutive All-Star Game start, has 1,431,013 votes to put him exactly 53,614 ahead of Cruz.

These days, nobody's hotter than Hamilton.

The Rangers' 29-year-old left fielder went 5-for-6 with a couple of big hits on Father's Day to extend his hitting streak to 16 games. Hamilton is hitting .474 with seven homers and 25 RBIs in June.

"The biggest thing is working on staying back and using my back side more," said Hamilton, who also removed the toe-tap from his swing. "I was flying open and making my bat path more like a slow-pitch softball swing -- an uppercut. We've been doing some drills to work on it."

At first base, fewer than 330,000 votes separate first from third place.

The Yankees' Mark Teixeira was jumped by the Twins' Morneau a couple of weeks ago. Now, Morneau has 1,752,276 votes, which increased his lead over Teixeira (1,507,769) from roughly 180,000 last week to 245,000 this week. Morneau -- batting .340 with 15 homers, 47 RBIs and a league-leading .448 on-base percentage -- has been to the All-Star Game each of the past three years but has never started.

The still-struggling Teixeira has time to keep that streak alive. And so does the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera, whose numbers -- a .328 batting average to go along with a Major League-leading 19 homers and 60 RBIs -- are among the best in the AL and whose vote total of 1,426,973 keeps him in the race at third.

The positions of catcher and shortstop, however, have pretty much been decided for a long time. Mauer and Jeter have been the top two vote-getters in the AL, respectively, and have sported sizeable leads at their respective positions.

That continued on Monday.

Mauer, the reigning AL Most Valuable Player, is hitting .304 with a .382 on-base percentage in hopes of making his fourth All-Star Game. His lead of about 2.2 million votes over the Yankees' Jorge Posada (1,043,748) is the largest lead among any position in the AL.

Jeter, batting .283 with 39 RBIs for a Yankees team that moved into first place by itself in the AL East on Sunday, has compiled 2,692,418 votes to increase his lead over youngster Elvis Andrus of the Rangers from roughly 1.1 million to almost 1.4 million.

Meanwhile, Jeter's hot-hitting teammate, Cano, continues to pace at second base, as his 2,330,278 votes puts him about 1.1 million ahead of the Red Sox's Dustin Pedroia. Cano leads the Majors with a .367 batting average and looks good in his bid to start the All-Star Game for the first time in his career.

So does Longoria.

The Rays' third baseman (with 2,534,967 votes) now leads 12-time All-Star Alex Rodriguez by nearly a million votes thanks to a .304 average, 12 homers and 52 RBIs.

Guerrero, meanwhile, is in good position to return to Angel Stadium as a starter for the home team.

That can become a reality on July 13 if he maintains the DH lead he's held throughout. The 35-year-old former right fielder -- a member of the Angels from 2004-09 -- is about 1.3 million votes ahead of the Angels' current DH, Hideki Matsui, thanks to a .327 batting average, 15 homers and 57 RBIs. Guerrero is looking to make his ninth All-Star Game appearance.

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.

2010 MLB All-Star Balloting : American League (Click on player's name to go his Campaign Headquarters)
1st Base
1.Justin MorneauTwins1,752,276
2.Mark TeixeiraYankees1,507,769
3.Miguel CabreraTigers1,426,973
4.Kevin YoukilisRed Sox805,244
5.Carlos PenaRays620,001
2nd Base
1.Robinson CanoYankees2,330,278
2.Dustin PedroiaRed Sox1,227,495
3.Ian KinslerRangers1,075,296
4.Orlando HudsonTwins848,402
5.Ben ZobristRays648,641
3rd Base
1.Evan LongoriaRays2,534,967
2.Alex RodriguezYankees1,571,831
3.Michael YoungRangers1,007,165
4.Adrian BeltreRed Sox608,447
5.Brandon IngeTigers530,882
1.Derek JeterYankees2,692,418
2.Elvis AndrusRangers1,319,827
3.J.J. HardyTwins770,373
4.Jason BartlettRays639,244
5.Alex GonzalezBlue Jays556,965
1.Joe MauerTwins3,280,565
2.Jorge PosadaYankees1,043,748
3.Victor MartinezRed Sox689,568
4.Taylor TeagardenRangers433,413
5.Gerald LairdTigers366,922
Designated Hitter
1.Vladimir GuerreroRangers2,316,229
2.Hideki MatsuiAngels1,009,648
3.David OrtizRed Sox746,316
4.Ken Griffey Jr.Mariners736,918
5.Jason KubelTwins654,269
1.Ichiro SuzukiMariners1,567,788
2.Carl CrawfordRays1,445,615
3.Josh HamiltonRangers1,431,013
4.Nelson CruzRangers1,377,399
5.Nick SwisherYankees1,049,047
6.Curtis GrandersonYankees967,003
7.Torii HunterAngels943,814
8.Brett GardnerYankees942,338
9.Magglio OrdonezTigers869,231
10.B.J. UptonRays831,580
11.Vernon WellsBlue Jays820,377
12.Michael CuddyerTwins774,088
13.Austin JacksonTigers764,488
14.Bobby AbreuAngels703,134
15.Denard SpanTwins691,164
Results updated: Monday, June 21, 2010

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.