Phillies dominate NL All-Star ballot
Utley leading Senior Circuit in votes after first tally
The Phillies are off to a good start in their hopes of capturing a third consecutive National League pennant. And if Tuesday's numbers are any telling point, they're also on track to dominate the National League All-Star Game starting lineup for a second consecutive season.
The first batch of All-Star Game voting results were revealed for the NL on Tuesday, and they revealed dominance by the team with the best record in the league.
Five Phillies players -- second baseman Chase Utley, shortstop Jimmy Rollins, third baseman Placido Polanco, center fielder Shane Victorino and right fielder Jayson Werth -- are currently in line to start the July 13 Midsummer Classic at Angel Stadium in Anaheim. And Utley, with 687,724 votes, currently serves as the league's leading vote-getter.
The Phillies had three players represented in the NL starting lineup at last year's All-Star Game. And while there's still a long way to go in the voting, three-quarters of their infield and two-thirds of their outfield are on track to start this year, while first baseman Ryan Howard and catcher Carlos Ruiz are currently in second place at their respective positions.
Utley, a four-time All-Star batting .307 with 10 homers and 23 RBIs entering Tuesday's game, sports the biggest lead between first and second place in the Majors, as he leads the second-place Rickie Weeks of the Brewers at second base by more than 500,000 votes.
The second-highest vote total and the second-highest lead in the league belongs to the man many say is the best in the Majors, Albert Pujols. The Cardinals' slugging first baseman is one of two Redbirds leading at his position -- the other is catcher Yadier Molina -- and has notched 647,666 votes, nearly 350,000 more than Howard.
Pujols, the three-time NL Most Valuable Player who is batting .303 with eight homers and 29 RBIs, has been an All-Star eight times in his first nine seasons and has started six times.
But while Pujols' possible ascension to yet another Midsummer Classic offers little surprise, the left side of the NL infield offers plenty.
Rollins, who was recently placed on the 15-day disabled for the second time this season and has been limited to just 12 games, currently leads the Marlins' Hanley Ramirez, who has started back-to-back All-Star Games and is batting .299 with seven homers. Rollins has garnered 340,747 votes, while Ramirez has 309,244 to form the closest race for a starting spot in the All-Star Game thus far.
Were fans turned off by Ramirez's recent episode, in which he was benched for lack of hustle last week, then openly criticized his manager the following day?
Perhaps. But this could be one of the more intriguing races to watch throughout the first half of the season.
Another surprise is at the hot corner, where Polanco (309,458 votes) holds the early lead over the Mets' David Wright (236,387). Polanco is an everyday third baseman this year for the first time since 2002, and with his .298 batting average and 21 RBIs, he's looking to reach the All-Star Game for the first time since 2007.
But can he hold the lead long enough to outlast Wright, who's been an All-Star in four consecutive seasons? That remains to be seen.
Ryan Braun -- a two-time All-Star with seven homers, 30 RBIs and a .324 batting average that ranks fifth in the NL -- is the leading vote-getter among NL outfielders with 423,834. He's followed by Werth (365,402) and Victorino (348,841). But the Dodgers' Andre Ethier -- a Triple Crown threat who's currently on the DL -- is close with 316,383 votes, as are Cardinals slugger Matt Holliday (309,463) and Braves rookie sensation Jason Heyward (304,547).
Behind the plate, Molina, the back-to-back Gold Glove Award winner, is pacing the catchers with 316,795 votes, while Ruiz (259,227) and veteran Ivan Rodriguez (247,998) of the Nationals are threatening.
Fans can cast their votes for starters up to 25 times at MLB.com and all 30 club sites using the 2010 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Sprint until July 1 at 8:59 p.m. PT. Sprint subscribers can now vote on the go with select Sprint devices. They can learn more about how to vote on their smart phones at MLB.com/Sprint.
Starting rosters will be announced during the 2010 All-Star Game Selection Show on TBS on July 4. Baseball fans around the world will then be able to select the final player on each team via the 2010 All-Star Game Final Vote Sponsored by Sprint.
And the voting doesn't end there. Fans will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet at the Midsummer Classic via the 2010 All-Star Game MVP Vote Sponsored by Sprint.
The All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX and around the world by Major League Baseball International. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio play-by-play, while MLB.com will offer extensive online coverage.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.