Ramirez takes edge on Rollins in NL vote
Marlins slugger leads at short; Cards duo retains spots
One is a switch-hitting speedster with all the tools and a little hardware -- two Gold Gloves, a Most Valuable Player Award and a World Series ring -- to go along with it. The other is a five-tool threat who has successfully migrated to the No. 3 spot of the lineup and continues to show he's one of the flat-out best players in the game.
Frankly, you can't go wrong with Jimmy Rollins of the Phillies or Hanley Ramirez of the Marlins.
And that's what makes picking a starting shortstop to represent the National League so tough.
With fewer than two weeks remaining in balloting for the July 14 All-Star Game at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, the pendulum-like race between Ramirez and Rollins continues to swing, and this time, it's in Ramirez's direction.
Florida's superstar, was second to Rollins by a little more than 87,000 votes last week. Now, though, after two straight weeks in the No. 2 spot, Ramirez, with 1,648,482 total votes, leads by 154,016.
If Ramirez edges out Rollins, he'll be the first Marlins player to start back-to-back All-Star Games. But this race has not reached its conclusion -- not in the least.
Around the league, two of Rollins' teammates -- outfielder Raul Ibanez, who's never made an All-Star team in 14 Major League seasons, and second baseman Chase Utley -- continue to lead at their respective positions.
In addition, two Cardinals, first baseman Albert Pujols and catcher Yadier Molina, are slated to be starters if the voting ended today. And the Mets also have two leaders of their own, with David Wright currently claiming the top spot at third base and Carlos Beltran still holding off the Cubs' Alfonso Soriano for the third and final starting spot in the outfield, behind the Brewers' Ryan Braun.
Manny Ramirez, the Dodgers' suspended slugger who is eligible to return on July 3 and will begin playing in Minor League games on Tuesday, remains sixth.
Here's a position-by-position look at how things are shaping up in the NL:
Since last week, there's been no movement at first base. And with Pujols being the hometown guy -- not to mention arguably the best hitter in baseball and having yet another great year -- that likely won't change, either. Behind him, things stayed the same, too, as the Phillies' Ryan Howard, the Brewers' Prince Fielder and the Padres' Adrian Gonzalez respectively follow.
Second base still has Utley leading, with the Dodgers' Orlando Hudson -- one of the best offseason pickups -- a distant second. In third is Rickie Weeks of the Brewers, despite being out for the year because of a tear in his left wrist.
Wright continues to lead the voting at the hot corner as he looks to start his third All-Star Game, and his two immediate pursuers in the balloting also haven't changed. Ryan Zimmerman of the Nationals and Chipper Jones of the Braves remain second and third, respectively.
In what's been pretty much a two-horse race at shortstop since the voting process began, the Brewers' J.J. Hardy, the Astros' Miguel Tejada and the Mets' Jose Reyes -- currently on the disabled list -- respectively follow Ramirez and Rollins.
Behind the plate, Molina continues to hold the starting spot, and the Braves' Brian McCann is still No. 2. The Astros' Ivan Rodriguez returned to the leaderboard, climbing to third place. He is followed by the Brewers' Jason Kendall and the Phillies' Carlos Ruiz.
In the outfield, Ibanez continues to lead, even though his bat has slowed -- he's batting .254 in June -- and he's currently on the disabled list with a strained left groin. There hasn't been any change in the five spots behind him. Following him respectively are Braun, Beltran, Soriano, teammate Shane Victorino and Ramirez.
Fans can cast their votes for starters up to 25 times with the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint Online Ballot at MLB.com and all 30 club sites until July 2 at 11:59 p.m. ET.
Starting rosters will be announced during the 2009 All-Star Game Selection Show presented by Chevrolet on TBS on July 5. Baseball fans around the world will then be able to select the final player on each team via the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint Final Vote at MLB.com.
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 2009 All-Star Game Sprint MVP Vote at MLB.com.
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.