The midsummer classic is nearly upon us and the All-Star voting is hitting the home stretch. Who is leading the pack with the most votes? Who is in line to be a starter when they do not seem to deserve it?
The All-Star Game is frankly a popularity contest and the pretty girl always comes out on top. It is inevitable when you put the All-Star selections in the hands of the fans that those players with a larger following will shoot to the top even if their statistics do not warrant it.
Let's take a look at how the races stand at each position as of June 21st.
Russel Martin is currently leading the pack with 2,226,797 votes. He started off the year on quite a tear, but has since cooled off. In April, he hit .292 with six home runs, but over the last two months, has failed to hit over .200 and has only hit a grand total of three home runs.
Alex Avila of the Tigers is nearly 500,000 votes behind Martin at 1,730,511 even though his stats are far more impressive. This season he is hitting .295 with nine home runs and 41 RBI.
Shows just how much the Yankee fan base can push you over the top.
Adrian Gonzalez has since surpassed Mark Teixeira for the AL lead at first base with 3,017,960 votes. Rightfully so. Gonzalez has been nothing short of a Triple Crown candidate this season. With a .360 average, 15 home runs and 69 RBI, it is hard for anyone to deny him the honor of representing the AL this season.
Teixeira is sitting at 2,407,665, but at the moment, Miguel Cabrera seems more deserving of sitting as Gonzo's replacement. Cabrera has accumulated 1,771,893 votes up to this point.
Robinson Cano has run away with the second base All-Star voting. He currently leads Dustin Pedroia by 1.4 million votes.
Cano has been the best second baseman in the league this season even if his numbers are slightly down from 2010. His .295 average and 14 home runs are nothing to be scoffed at and he surely will finish this season above the .300 mark.
Pedroia has not been his usual self this season, but still is putting together a decent year. His .274 average is nearly 30 points below his career average, but he has had an outstanding June, hitting .377.
Third base has become one of the tighter three-man races for the starting spot on the All-Star team. Currently, Alex Rodriguez is leading the charge with 2,876,537 votes, but both Adrian Beltre and Kevin Youkilis are giving him a run.
Beltre has shaken off his reputation of only putting up big numbers in his contract year, hitting .264 with 13 home runs and 55 RBI. Youkilis will most likely surpass Beltre soon as he is only 300,000 votes behind. Just like most of the Red Sox this month, Youk has been on fire, hitting .329 with 19 RBI.
The Captain's quest for 3,000 hits has put him front and center this season and even with a recent trip to the DL, Jeter is still leading the AL shortstop voting. With 2,654,040 votes, he has a 400,000 lead on Asdrubal Cabrera, even though the Indian is having a much better season.
Before straining his calf, Jeter was six hits away from 3,000, but only boasting a .260 average. Cabrera, on the other hand, is hitting .294 with 12 home runs and has helped lead a resurgent Cleveland squad.
As much love as I have for Jeter, this just doesn't seem fair.
This is not much of a race. David Ortiz is playing like it is 2005 and is laughing in the face of all of those critics who said he couldn't catch up to a fastball last season.
Ortiz has 3,116,578 votes, and Michael Young, who is also having a great season even with all of his offseason drama, has only 1,760,195.
Not much drama here.
Two outfielders are already set in stone and rightfully so. Jose Bautista, who leads the league with the most votes at 4,156,940, and Curtis Granderson, with 3,473,227 votes, already lay claim to two of the three outfield spots.
The third and final outfield position will come down to Josh Hamilton (2,400,408) and Jacoby Ellsbury (2,249,323). If Ellsbury gets the nod, we could be looking at a starting lineup completely comprised of AL East players.
Frankly, Ellsbury deserves the nod. He has put together quite the first half. He is hitting .306 with eight home runs and has 24 stolen bases.
Hamilton has been no slouch even though he has missed some time due to his shoulder injury. He is hitting .301 with seven home runs and 35 RBI.
Brian McCann holds the lead over Yadier Molina for the starting nod in the National League. McCann, at 2.301,252 votes, looks to be the favorite to hold the spot when it is all said and done. His stats warrant the votes with a .300 average and 13 home runs.
Molina is having a nice season as well. He already has more than half of his HR total for last season (four) and is hovering right below .300 at .294.
The battle for first base in the National League is the most exciting. The names vying for the starting position are some real superstars. Joey Votto, Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols are all studs in their own right, but only one can represent in the NL in 2011.
Pujols holds a slight lead with 2,806,864 votes, but a recent wrist injury could lead to him being passed by either Votto or Fielder.
Joey Votto (2,270,211) and Fielder (2,066,327) are each are having strong seasons. Votto is coming off a 2010 campaign where he brought home MVP honors and Prince is playing for a massive offseason contract.
Votto has the edge in batting average, .318 to .305, but Fielder has 10 more round-trippers (21 to 11) and nearly 20 more RBI (68 to 49). Both players play for offensive juggernauts, but in the end, Fielder will most likely pass Votto and replace the injured Pujols at first base.
In the closest race that we have seen thus far, Brandon Phillips currently has a slight lead over Rickie Weeks with 2,286,378 votes to 2,064,502.
Both have similar numbers, with Phillips having a slightly higher batting average and more RBI, but Weeks has the power numbers. Either would be a strong addition to the right side of the infield for the NL squad.
Phillips will most likely keep his lead, even though it might come down to the nitty gritty.
This one is not much of a race, as Placido Polanco leads Chipper Jones by over one million votes.
Even though Polanco is not hitting the cover off the ball, he is playing a very nice third base for the Phillies and is hitting .289 with four home runs and 39 RBI.
Even though Chipper has some loyal fans, they haven't been able to push him over the top in the voting race this season.
In a two-man race, Troy Tulowitzki has the narrow lead over Jose Reyes with 2,385,991 votes to 1,972,820 votes.
This boggles my mind a bit. I know that Tulo made a real name for himself at the end of last season with the amazing September he put together, but come on. Jose Reyes is playing like a man out of his mind.
Tulo has the power numbers, but that is all. He currently has a .273 average with 14 home runs and 50 RBI, but Reyes is hitting .341 with 13 triples, has one more strikeout than walk this season (25 walks and 26 Ks) and stolen 27 bases.
Let's be real people. Reyes should be ahead by miles.
The outfield race has been reduced to a battle of teammates. Ryan Braun has cemented a starting spot with 3,034,118 votes, and the return of the Puma has landed Lance Berkman a spot as well with 2,562,428 votes.
The final spot will either belong to Berkman's teammate, Matt Holliday (2,390,118) or one of the boys in blue: Matt Kemp (2,062,667) or Andre Ethier (1,889,298).
Even though Ethier put together an amazing hitting streak this season, it seems very difficult to imagine him beating out either Kemp or Holliday.
Both Holliday and Kemp have put together impressive seasons thus far. Holliday missed some time this year but is hitting .330 with nine home runs and Kemp has already reached the 20-20 plateau and boasts a .327 average.
Kemp should be able to catch up to Holliday and claim the third NL outfield spot in this year's All-Star Game.