Young infielders top NL All-Star ballot
Five players under 30 could start in Senior Circuit's infield
Barring any late changes in the balloting for the 78th All-Star Game, the Senior Circuit could make quite a junior achievement: For the first time in 37 years, the National League All-Star infield, including the catcher, could consist of five players younger than 30 years old.
With less than 96 hours remaining in the campaign, the latest NL balloting totals released by Major League Baseball Monday show all eight position leaders from last week still holding their respective spots, including Milwaukee first baseman Prince Fielder; Philadelphia second baseman Chase Utley; New York shortstop Jose Reyes, outfielder Carlos Beltran and third baseman David Wright; Los Angeles catcher Russell Martin; Cincinnati outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. and Chicago outfielder Alfonso Soriano.
Should these leaders remain in first place, Fielder, 23 years old, would join Utley (28), Wright (24), Martin (24) and Reyes (24) to form the youngest National League starting infield since 1970, when St. Louis first baseman Dick Allen (28 years old at the time) teamed with Chicago second baseman Glenn Beckert (29), shortstop Don Kessinger (28), Cincinnati third baseman Tony Perez (28) and Reds catcher Johnny Bench (21) in the NL lineup at the Midsummer Classic at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati.
This year's 20-somethings haven't punched their ticket just yet to San Francisco, where the All-Star Game will be played on July 10.
Though stadium balloting has concluded and time is running out, fans can still impact the campaigns by voting online as several races remain too close to call.
Fielder, the NL leader in home runs and RBIs, is in a battle with St. Louis slugger Albert Pujols. Pujols, a five-time All-Star who led all Major Leaguers last year with 3,418,555 votes, has won the starting nod two of the last three years.
Griffey, whose 670,287 votes received during the previous three weeks were the most by any National Leaguer during that period, has a shot to catch Beltran, the current NL vote leader. Soriano, who trails Beltran and Griffey in the balloting, is trying to hold off a challenge from San Francisco slugger Barry Bonds for the third and final starting spot in the outfield. Outfielder Matt Holliday of the Rockies, the NL's leading hitter, has been coming on strong in recent weeks.
Martin leads Paul Lo Duca of the Mets by less than 125,000 votes, and Wright is roughly 280,000 votes ahead of Miguel Cabrera of the Marlins. Reyes of the Mets is about 200,000 votes ahead of J.J. Hardy of the Brewers.
Fans can cast their votes for starters up to 25 times with the Monster 2007 All-Star Online Ballot at MLB.com and all 30 club sites until Thursday, June 28 at 11:59 p.m. ET.
Fans will again be given the opportunity to cast an All-Star vote immediately following the 2007 MLB All-Star Game Selection Show Presented by Chevrolet, which will be televised by Turner Sports on Sunday, July 1. Baseball fans around the world will be able select the final player on each All-Star team via the Monster.com 2007 All-Star Final Vote.
Selecting the rosters isn't the end of the fun in 2007, either. Concluding the All-Star balloting process, fans will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevrolet at the All-Star Game via the Monster.com 2007 All-Star Game MVP Vote at MLB.com.
The All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage, while MLB.com will offer extensive online coverage and MLB Radio will have exclusive play-by-play coverage of the game on the Internet.
Jim Molony is a writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.