Star power unveiled for Midsummer Classic
Mauer is leading vote-getter; Pujols leads NL in balloting
On a day of celebration and fireworks far and wide, Major League Baseball fans can now gaze upon a sight that truly inspires oohs and ahhs.
Meet your 2010 rosters for the 81st All-Star Game on July 13 in Anaheim.
Twins catcher Joe Mauer, the leading vote-getter overall, and Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols, who claimed the top spot in the National League, are among the starters selected by you during the largest All-Star balloting program in sports. Fans cast 21.2 million ballots, the second-highest figure in history to decide nine American League and eight NL starters.
Balloting closed on Thursday night exclusively online, and it closed with a rush. Over the past three years of online All-Star balloting for the elected starters, fans have cast more than 650 million votes at MLB.com and the 30 club sites, including this year's 220 million votes. The full list of rosters was accompanied by the announcement of 10 players, five from each league, who can snag the final rosters spots via the 2010 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Sprint.
Mauer, now a four-time AL All-Star and a three-time fan-elected starter, collected 5,372,606 votes, the third-highest total of all time, trailing only the 6,079,688 cast for Ken Griffey Jr. in 1994 and the 5,397,374 for Pujols for last year's Midsummer Classic before his home crowd in St. Louis. Mauer is the first catcher to be MLB's overall top vote-getter since Ivan Rodriguez of the Rangers was first in 2000, and the Minnesota native joins Hall of Famer Rod Carew (1975, 1977-78) as the only other Twins player to lead all of MLB in votes.
"Actually I didn't know that, but that's a really cool honor," Mauer said before the Twins' homestand finale against Tampa Bay. "Just to make it to an All-Star Game, but to be the leading vote-getter and be voted in by the fans is pretty special."
In addition, Mauer drew a record number of online votes via the All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Sprint. Pujols, who garnered 4,380,669 votes, finished atop all NL players for the fourth time, as he led all of MLB in 2006 and '09 and also ranked first in the NL in '03.
Mauer will not be the only member of the Twins to start the event, as his teammate Justin Morneau held off veteran All-Stars Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers and Mark Teixeira of the Yankees to net the starting not at first base in a fabulous finish down the stretch. It will mark the fourth All-Star berth and the first starting assignment for Morneau, who drew 2,933,355 votes.
"I think it's kind of a compliment of whatever you want to say to our fans that we've been drawing so well," Morneau said. "My teammates, the campaign they put together for me was kind of cool. You look at the names of the last two [Twins] that started it ... [Rod] Carew and [Harmon] Killebrew, so that's pretty cool."
The pair of Twins represent one of four sets of AL teammates who will start at Angel Stadium. The Yankees' double-play tandem will remain intact in Anaheim, as teammates Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano join Mauer and Pujols as the only Major League players to top 4 million votes. Jeter earned his 11th trip to the All-Star Game, including his sixth fan-elected start, with 4,547,485 votes, while Cano (4,135,305) will make his second All-Star appearance and his first start.
Rounding out the AL infield is Rays third baseman Evan Longoria, whose 3,977,935 votes made him an All-Star for the third time in his Major League season, including back-to-back elections by fans. He joins an elite club as a repeat starter at the hot corner for the AL. Since 1970, the only other AL third basemen who repeated as the choice of fans are Hall of Famers Brooks Robinson (1971-74), George Brett (1976-86), Wade Boggs (1987-1996) and Cal Ripken Jr. (1997-2001), along with Alex Rodriguez (2004-08).
For the third consecutive year, the AL outfield will feature Josh Hamilton of the Rangers and Ichiro Suzuki of the Mariners. Hamilton's torrid play in June (.454, 49-108, 9 HR, 31 RBIs, .815 slugging percentage) launched him to the top spot among AL outfielders with 2,840,816 votes. Ichiro will be a part of the Midsummer Classic for the 10th time -- accounting for his entire career in Major League Baseball -- and is a fan-elected starter for the ninth time with 2,544,564 votes.
Who snagged that competitive No. 3 outfield spot? It was Rays left fielder Carl Crawford (2,235,597), last year's winner of the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. He held on against Nelson Cruz (2,011,770) of the Rangers to earn his first start in the Midsummer Classic and his fourth All-Star appearance overall.
Rangers slugger Vladimir Guerrero, who has collected his ninth All-Star berth and his sixth fan-elected start with 3,926,103 votes, will return to Angel Stadium, his home ballpark from 2004-09, as the AL's designated hitter. This will be Guerrero's fifth time representing the AL in the Midsummer Classic.
The NL lineup will feature a pair of Cardinals for the second consecutive year, as Pujols will be joined by his St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina, whose 2,251,285 votes held off veteran All-Stars Brian McCann of the Braves and Rodriguez of the Nationals.
"It's an honor, always," Molina said after the Cardinals' 7-1 victory over the Brewers. "I feel good. I can't wait. It's going to be fun."
And what about the Phillies, who had five players on the leaderboard when the first voting update was released in May? In the end, there is one starter from Philadelphia. Chase Utley (3,616,038) earned his fifth straight election by fans, a run eclipsed at the position only by Hall of Famers Joe Morgan (1972-78) and Ryne Sandberg (1986-93) since 1970. And because Utley is on the disabled list after hand surgery, it means no players from the defending NL champs will start the All-Star Game for the Senior Circuit. Utley will be replaced in the starting lineup by the top second baseman on the Player Ballot: Martin Prado of the NL East-leading Braves.
|"All the things I've been through the past year and a half, and now I'm selected to the All-Star Game one more time -- that's huge for me."|
-- Mets shortstop Jose Reyes|
One of the most hotly contested NL races was at third base, but David Wright of the Mets surged down the stretch to unseat Philadelphia's Placido Polanco, who had led at the position throughout the entire balloting process. In every single voting update after Polanco was first announced as the leader, Wright trended better than him, and if it seemed inevitable that Wright was going to overtake him at the wire, it it became even more probable once Polanco went on the DL recently. Wright drew 2,285,959 votes, ahead of the 1,792,413 for Polanco. This will mark Wright's fifth All-Star selection overall and his fourth start (2006-07, '09).
"It never gets old," Wright said. "It's a tremendous honor. Obviously, I'm very grateful for the fans that came out late that pushed me and got me the opportunity to start. I'm very grateful for that. I take a lot of pride in that. To be mentioned amongst some of the great players in the game is an incredible honor."
Southern California native Ryan Braun of the Brewers led all Major League outfielders in All-Star balloting for the third straight year by collecting 2,972,525 votes. Braun now has the most fan elections in Brewers history, ahead of the two apiece for Hall of Famers Paul Molitor and Robin Yount.
"It is amazing, it is definitely special," Braun said. "I always say that this time of year is one of the few opportunities to reflect on where you're at, or what your accomplishments are. For me, I realize how fortunate I am to be in this position, and it is amazing. I never take it for granted, and it is humbling."
Joining Braun in the NL outfield will be Dodgers slugger Andre Ethier, who will make his All-Star Game debut after garnering 2,784,419 votes. Ethier is the first Dodgers outfielder to be elected to start the All-Star Game since Darryl Strawberry in 1991.
"It's a big honor to be singled out among all the good outfielders in the league and be considered one of the top three by the fans," said Ethier. "It's something I never imagined happening. It's something special."
The third starting position in the NL outfield was earned by 20-year-old Braves rookie Jason Heyward, who drew 2,728,098 votes. If it is determined later that Heyward, who is currently on the DL, cannot play in the All-Star Game, then he will be replaced in the starting lineup by the top ranking outfielder from the Player Ballot who is not already a starter, and NL All-Star manager Charlie Manuel from the Phillies will name a replacement to be added to the roster.
The pitchers and reserves for both squads -- totaling 25 for the NL and 24 for the AL -- were determined through a combination of Player Ballot choices and selections made by All-Star managers Joe Girardi and Manuel, in conjunction with MLB.
Might as well get this out of the way first: Nationals rookie sensation Stephen Strasburg is not on the NL roster, just to address a popular topic of debate over recent days.
"He got quite a bit of consideration," Manuel explained. "He is going be an All-Star for a long time. What does he have, [six] starts? I just felt there are other guys who have started 18 to 20 games. I just felt -- leave him alone and let him get used to the Major League level."
AL Player Ballot pitchers include starting pitchers David Price of the Rays, Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester of the Red Sox, Phil Hughes of the Yankees and Cliff Lee of the Mariners; along with relievers Neftali Feliz of the Rangers, Mariano Rivera of the Yankees and Jose Valverde of the Tigers.
"I just said, 'Thank you.' Obviously it was a good thing to hear," Price said after being told the news by Rays manager Joe Maddon. "Started my day off right. I was very grateful. It's not just me. I'm representing the Rays, I couldn't have done it without these guys."
When asked if he hopes to be the AL's starting pitcher, Price, who led the league with 11 wins entering Sunday, replied: "It would be awesome. Only two people get to start this game each year, so that would be a great honor."
AL Player Ballot position players include Cabrera; second baseman Dustin Pedroia, catcher Victor Martinez, third baseman Adrian Beltre and DH David Ortiz of the Red Sox; shortstop Elvis Andrus of the Rangers; outfielders Vernon Wells and Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays and outfielder Torii Hunter of the Angels.
Pedroia and Martinez receive full honors as elected All-Stars, but because they are both injured and unavailable, they were replaced on the roster by second baseman Ian Kinsler of the Rangers and catcher John Buck of the Blue Jays, respectively. Both Kinsler and Buck finished second on the Player Ballot at their respective positions.
Girardi, in conjunction with MLB, filled out the AL roster with the following: second baseman Ty Wigginton of the Orioles and third baseman Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees, along with pitchers Matt Thornton of the White Sox, Fausto Carmona of the Indians, Joakim Soria of the Royals, Trevor Cahill of the Athletics and CC Sabathia of the Yankees.
Indians pitching coach Tim Belcher said of Carmona: "I think he's very deserving. One of the things that's most impressive to us -- that he's come to this point and been selected as an All-Star -- is where he's come from the last two years. His last two years have been, to put it mildly, a struggle. For him to put together the first half that he's put together is impressive."
NL Player Ballot position players include Prado and catcher Brian McCann of the Braves; first baseman Adrian Gonzalez of the Padres, shortstops Troy Tulowitzki of the Rockies; third baseman Scott Rolen of the Reds; and outfielders Corey Hart of the Brewers, Matt Holliday of the Cardinals and Marlon Byrd of the Cubs. Because Tulowitzki is on the DL and unavailable, he was replaced on the roster by Reyes, who was the next highest vote-getter among shortstops on the Player Ballot.
"I feel good about it," Reyes said. "All the things I've been through the past year and a half, and now I'm selected to the All-Star Game one more time -- that's huge for me. That's a big step for me, so I really appreciate that. I'm going to enjoy it."
NL Player Ballot pitchers include starting pitchers Ubaldo Jimenez of the Rockies, Roy Halladay of the Phillies, Josh Johnson of the Marlins, Tim Lincecum of the Giants and Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals; along with relievers Matt Capps of the Nationals, Brian Wilson of the Giants and Jonathan Broxton of the Dodgers.
To know just what this can mean, consider the case of Capps, whose father passed away unexpectedly in October. The closer has 22 saves and was thinking about his Dad when given the All-Star news.
"I wish he could see it. He'll be with me [in spirit]," said Capps. "It's an exciting time. It's something that you work your whole life for. To be voted on by your peers you compete against, it makes it all the more special."
From there, Manuel, in conjunction with MLB, filled out his roster with the following: first baseman Ryan Howard of the Phillies, second baseman Brandon Phillips of the Reds (replacing Utley on the roster), infielder/outfielder Omar Infante of the Braves, outfielders Michael Bourn of the Astros and Chris Young of the D-backs; and pitchers Chris Carpenter of the Cardinals, Yovani Gallardo of the Brewers, Tim Hudson of the Braves, Evan Meek of the Pirates and Arthur Rhodes of the Reds.
"It's a goal every year, it's just normally it doesn't work out," Young said of being selected. "Any time you can say you're an All-Star is special for me. Just with the players that I'm going to be playing against and playing with, just to be able to pick their brains. There are going to be some great players there, and I'm really looking forward to it."
When told that he and Wainwright were on the NL staff, Carpenter said: "I'm excited for him to get an opportunity to experience it, no question about it. He deserves it. All the guys who made it deserve it. It's going to be a fun time for us."
Bourn called it "a fantastic feeling. I'm excited that I was able to make that team, and you'll never forget your first one."
Rhodes, who tied a Major League record this season with 33 consecutive scoreless appearances for the Reds, was emotional in discussing his recognition.
"I've put a lot of work into this game, busted my tail and just worked hard," he said. "It's been an exciting year for me in the first half. To make the All-Star team, I'm excited right now. I'll go out there, enjoy myself and have fun."
That leaves a 34th roster spot in each league, and this is where fans come in again. Last year, fans chose Phillies outfielder Shane Victorino and Tigers third baseman Brandon Inge. For this 2010 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Sprint, fans have 10 candidates who are all focused on postseason contention beyond the Midsummer Classic.
AL nominees are first baseman Paul Konerko of the White Sox, right fielder Nick Swisher of the Yankees, first baseman Kevin Youkilis of the Red Sox, left fielder Delmon Young of the Twins and third baseman Michael Young of the Rangers.
NL nominees are closer Heath Bell of the Padres, outfielder Carlos Gonzalez of the Rockies, first baseman Joey Votto of the Reds, closer Billy Wagner of the Braves and third baseman Ryan Zimmerman of the Nationals.
Submit as many ballots as you want. Voting continues through 4 p.m. ET on Thursday, and the winners will be announced exclusively at MLB.com shortly thereafter.
The Yankees and Red Sox each have six players who were selected, and the Final Vote means they each have an opportunity to make it seven electees.
"I think we're deserving," Youkilis said. "I think we have just as many wins as any team in baseball. That speaks for itself. We started out horribly and had a lot of injuries and battled a lot of adversity and we deserve to have a lot of guys on the All-Star team. When you have the most wins in baseball, you deserve to have more All-Stars [then other teams]."
The final phase of All-Star Game voting at MLB.com will have fans again participating in the official voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet via the 2010 All-Star Game MVP Vote Sponsored by Sprint.
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 de Sport, and around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 8 p.m. ET. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Game coverage.