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07/04/10 6:41 PM ET

Fans' Final Vote can make Delmon an All-Star

Outfielder looking to go to first Midsummer Classic

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins have plenty of offensive threats within their deep lineup, but the player who many feel has been the team's MVP through the first half of this season might not be the obvious pick.

Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau get the most recognition, but it's been Delmon Young who has quietly been a huge reason why the Twins have been atop the American League Central for most of the first half.

"He's definitely showing that he can carry a team," center fielder Denard Span said earlier this week. "He's showing he's just as valuable as Mauer and Morneau. I would say he and Morneau are carrying us, but really, it's been Delmon over the last month or so with the big hits in key situations. I think up until this point he's the MVP of the team."

Young may be considered by some of his teammates to be a star, but to earn his first trip to the July 13 All-Star Game at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, he will need the help of the fans, as he's one of five American League Final Vote candidates.

Now in its ninth year, the 2010 All-Star Game Final Vote Sponsored by Sprint gives fans around the world the opportunity to select the final player on each All-Star team. Balloting began immediately following Sunday's Major League All-Star Selection Show and continues until 3 p.m. CT on Thursday. The winners will be announced on MLB.com shortly thereafter.

"I'm just surprised and just honored to even be mentioned," Young said. "I never thought this would happen."

The 24-year-old has been experiencing a breakout season, as he is tied with Morneau for the team lead in RBIs (55) and is fourth in home runs (nine). He's batting .295 with 21 doubles and has nearly matched his RBI and home run total from a year ago. And with his run-scoring single in Sunday's 7-4 loss to the Rays, he has delivered 39 RBIs in the club's past 40 games.

"He's been playing well, and this shows how far he's come in the last couple years as a player," said Morneau, who was voted to be the AL's starting first baseman. "We'll be campaigning for him for sure. He's had some huge hits for us so far in the first half. I believe he deserves to go, so hopefully, he'll get in. It would be a lot of fun to have him there."

Competing with Young for the Final Vote are White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko, Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher, Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis and Rangers third baseman Michael Young.

Mobile voting in the U.S. is exclusive to Sprint, Nextel and Boost subscribers. To receive the 2010 All-Star Game Final Vote Sponsored by Sprint mobile ballot, text "VOTE" to 1122. To vote for a specific player, simply text your choice to 1122. EXAMPLE: Text "A3" to vote for AL Player 3 or "N3" to vote for NL Player 3. Messaging and data rates may apply. Mobile voting in Canada is open to all carriers; fans should text their choice to 88555. Standard rates may apply.

The fun doesn't end there. Fans, having already decided the starters and this week the final player on each team, once again will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevy through the 2010 All-Star Game MVP Vote Sponsored by Sprint on MLB.com during the All-Star Game.

The 81st Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and Le Reseau des Sports, and around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 7 p.m. CT. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Game coverage.

Young's impressive 2010 season comes after what may be characterized as two disappointing campaigns in his first two years in Minnesota.

The No. 1 overall pick (by Tampa Bay) in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft, Young has dealt with some ups and downs since arriving in Minnesota two years ago in the trade that sent right-hander Matt Garza and shortstop Jason Bartlett to the Rays. Last season was a particularly tough one personally for Young, who lost his mother, Bonnie, in May 2009 after she'd waged a three-month battle with pancreatic cancer. Young understandably got off to a slow start, although he began to show his potential over the final month of the season.

Young batted .340 with four home runs and 18 RBIs in 26 games last September and was a big factor in helping the club earn its fifth AL Central title in eight years. But that was just a glimpse of what was to come this season after Young dropped 30 pounds over the winter and put himself in his best physical shape since joining the club.

To see all of that hard work culminate in a chance to make his first All-Star Game is pretty special for Young.

"I'm just thankful that everything's going pretty good this year, especially after last year, missing time and going home and everything," he said. "I wasn't even thinking about this at all and never thought I'd be mentioned above the other players in the American League."

Young doesn't plan on staging his own campaign, saying that the balloting is out of his control. But his two All-Star teammates -- Morneau and Mauer -- already have a plan.

"We're going to try to get shirts made [that read] 'DY -- because he deserves it,' " Morneau said. "That was the brilliant marketing plan we came up with. That was me and Mauer in the back [of the clubhouse.]"

The Twins will be in Toronto this week as the voting takes place, so they'll will have to pull out all the stops in order to help Young, and they've already launched the "Drive in Delmon" push.

The team is no stranger to having Final Vote candidates. Reliever Pat Neshek was nominated in 2007, left-hander Francisco Liriano in 2006, Torii Hunter in 2005 and Lew Ford in 2004. But none of the players tallied enough votes to finish as the winner.

This time the club hopes things will be different.

"I would like to see Delmon on the team," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He's done very well for us and has a lot of RBIs. That would be a very nice thing. Hopefully, the fans get up there and vote for him. That would be nice."

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