NL All-Star roster
CHICAGO -- Streak or no streak, Marlins teammates say second baseman Luis Castillo is All-Star worthy for the second straight year.
"He's hitting .320," Marlins first baseman Derrek Lee says of Castillo. "And he's playing great defense. It's as simple as that. What else does he have to do?"
For now, Castillo has to drum up some Internet support if he hopes to participate in his second straight Midsummer Classic.
Castillo is one of five National League players on the Internet ballot that determines the 32nd -- and final -- spot on the All-Star squad.
Castillo is on the ballot along with Expos shortstop Orlando Cabrera, Brewers outfielder Geoff Jenkins, Giants catcher Benito Santiago and Pirates outfielder Kenny Lofton, added to the list after Cubs outfielder Corey Patterson was lost for the season with a knee injury.
Each league had five players nominated by 2003 All-Star Game managers Dusty Baker and Mike Scioscia in conjunction with Major League Baseball. Fans can vote here at Floridamarlins.com or MLB.com, and can select one player for each league. The etopps All-Star Final Vote ends on Wednesday at 6 p.m. ET. Winners will be announced on MLB.com shortly thereafter.
A year ago, Castillo moved into the media spotlight by stringing together a 35-game hitting streak, the longest ever by a second baseman and tied for 10th best in Major League history. During his remarkable run, he hit .403 (62-for-154) with a .436 on-base percentage. He had 17 multi-hit games.
Castillo carried a .341 average into last year's break.
While his average is 21 points lower (.320), his power numbers are up. The switch-hitting Castillo has already set a season high with five home runs and he has 25 RBIs.
Unlike a year ago, Castillo isn't leading off and he's not running as much. In 2002, the Dominican-born 27-year-old led the Major Leagues with 48 steals.
He's battling back from offseason surgery to his right hip, and he has 14 stolen bases in 25 attempts.
"To me, statistically, it's almost a parallel year," said Marlins first base coach Perry Hill, who aligns the infield defensively. "He's hitting .320. Defensively, nobody turns the double play better. The only difference, to me, is he doesn't have the notoriety of the streak. But streak or no streak, he's exactly the same player. He has more home runs, more RBIs. The only thing missing is the streak."
Castillo's fine season has been overshadowed by several other Marlins, who were worthy of All-Star consideration. Third baseman Mike Lowell is the only Marlin on the team, based on incredible first-half power numbers.
Lowell has 26 homers and 73 RBIs, both high marks for a Marlin before the All-Star Break.
"I think he's had a better first half than he did in the first half last year," Lee said of Castillo. "He's hitting more home runs and driving in more runs. The only thing that is different is he's not running as well. To me, he's an All-Star every year. When it comes to second basemen, it's Louie and [Montreal's Jose] Vidro."
Marlins manager Jack McKeon says the numbers weigh in Castillo's favor.
"I look at all the numbers, and certainly they are as good a numbers as anybody else," McKeon said.