NL All-Star roster
CHICAGO -- The online voters came through for Albert Pujols in a big, big way -- a way reminiscent of how Pujols comes through for the Cardinals. The St. Louis slugger, who stood fourth among National League outfielders when in-stadium All-Star voting ended, made a massive late charge via the Internet to be the National League's leading vote-getter overall.
Pujols was named on 2,030,702 ballots, joining Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki as the only players to receive 2 million votes. He picked up 1,386,818 online votes, earning him the All-Star Online Balloting Top Vote-Getter Award. He is the third Cardinal since 1970 to be the NL's top vote-getter, joining Ozzie Smith, who achieved it three times, and Mark McGwire. At 23, he's the second-youngest player since '70 to be his league's top vote-getter, behind only Ken Griffey Jr., who was 21 in 1991.
"It's special," Pujols said. "I had a great time in 2001 when I made it, but definitely it's going to be different this year because I got voted in. The St. Louis fans and all the fans around the world who voted me in, it's pretty special. It's great."
Pujols, who will make his second All-Star appearance and first start, is one of three Redbirds in the starting lineup and five on the roster. Joining him as starters are shortstop Edgar Renteria and third baseman Scott Rolen. Renteria will be making his third All-Star appearance, but his first as a starter. He is the first Colombian to be named an All-Star starter. Rolen started last year in his first trip to the summer showcase event.
"It's big," said Renteria. "I'm happy because a lot of people from Colombia are going to feel excited. I say thank you to the fans who put me in the All-Star Game."
Righty starter Woody Williams and center fielder Jim Edmonds were named to the squad through the Player Ballot, a new addition this year to the selection process. Williams, 36, is a first-time All-Star while Edmonds is on the team for the third time. Besides the five players, Cards manager Tony La Russa will serve on Dusty Baker's coaching staff.
"If you're voted in by your peers, it's almost better," Edmonds said. "To get voted in by players and managers, to me it's overwhelming because it's all we ever want to do, is be accepted by your peers. I'm extremely pleased with that."
In his third Major League season, Pujols has been arguably the National League's best hitter, leading the league in batting average, runs, RBIs and slugging percentage and standing second in homers and third in on-base percentage (all stats entering Sunday's games). He also ranks first in the loop in total bases and multi-hit games and second in doubles. He finished second in NL MVP balloting last year behind Barry Bonds.
It was a source of much consternation among Cardinals fans that Sammy Sosa, from the rival Cubs, had a spot on the roster as of the final balloting update, while Pujols was not one of the leaders. That changed dramatically with the roster announcement, as Sosa was left off and Pujols was in the lineup.
"Sammy's a guy that gets voted in on a yearly basis," said Rolen. "It's probably the first time in a long time that he hasn't been on there. Not to take anything away from Sammy at all, but Albert deserves a spot on that team somewhere, I know that for a fact."
For Rolen and Renteria, it was another accolade for what is widely acclaimed as the best left side of an infield in the NL. Both players earned Gold Glove and Silver Slugger honors in 2002, recognizing them as both the top fielders and hitters at their respective positions.
Rolen ran away with the voting at third base, easily outdistancing Florida's Mike Lowell despite Lowell's 26 homers (tied with Pujols for second in the league). He garnered more votes than the next two third basemen combined and finished with the second-most online votes of any player (1,303,417). Renteria topped Atlanta's Rafael Furcal in a race that was tight down to the end. His 1,185,564 online votes trailed only Pujols, Rolen and Atlanta's Gary Sheffield.
"It's a neat thing," said Rolen. "I don't think anybody plays the game for accolades and awards, anything like that, but when something like that comes along, especially being voted on by the fans, it's a big honor."
The last time the Cardinals had five players on the National League All-Star team was 1985, when Joaquin Andujar, Jack Clark, Willie McGee, Tom Herr, and Smith were all named to the roster. St. Louis had six All-Stars in 1959.
"I know it's a lot of representation, but these guys have had great first halves," La Russa said. "I guess that says we've got a good club. Let's hope we have a second half to match our All-Stars."
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.