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MLB All-Star Game 2009: Evaluating the First Round of Votes

Philip MiddletonContributor IMay 28, 2009

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - APRIL 30: Shortstop Jason Bartlett #8 of the Tampa Bay Rays fields a short infield ball that was the Boston Red Sox only hit April 30, 2009 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Everyone knows that All-Star games are often a popularity contest. However, the fans generally get the majority of their selections correct.

Only the first round of votes has been reported, but it seems that there are several players that could be snubbed come All-Star break. Numbers may change between now and then, but the stats that have been gathered give us a pretty good idea of what a player may accomplish before the All-Star break.

Hunter Pence is hitting .352/5/19 and did not receive enough votes to get in the top 15 of National League outfielders. Pence is a young and upcoming star in the Astros' outfield and deserves to be considered among the NL's best.

Jason Bartlett stands out among the best in American League shortstops. He is currently fourth in the All-Star balloting, one spot behind Rangers' rookie Elvis Andrus. There is no doubt Andrus is having a great rookie season, but his .284/3/9 clip is well below Bartlett's .373/7/30 numbers.

Bartlett's numbers are also better than Derek Jeter's, although he has 400,000 less votes.

The Phillies' Raul Ibanez has proven himself to be an invaluable offseason acquisition. He has compiled a .339 batting average with 17 home runs and 44 RBI. Ibanez is sixth among NL outfielders in votes but he ranks first in RBI and second in home runs.

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Those players deserve a shot to be starting in the All-Star game, but one player receiving hundreds of thousands of votes does not.

For weeks, Manny Ramirez stole the headlines for testing positive for a banned substance under MLB's drug policy. Now, he is stirring up more controversy as he is currently fourth in NL outfielders and serving a 50 game suspension.

Will MLB be able to prevent Manny from playing in the All-Star game? He has always been an All-Star caliber player, but he needs to sit this one out.

It is early, however, and the fans still have a chance to get it right. Not voting Manny into this year's All-Star game would be a great way for baseball lovers to show that they do not stand for or support cheaters.

All-Star voting will conclude July 2.

The 80th All-Star game will be played July 14th at St. Louis' Busch Stadium.

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