Votebook: Outfield candidates are big hitters
Hamilton, Kemp stand tall but there are deserving surprises, too
Led by Josh Hamilton in the American League and Matt Kemp in the National, it's been a thrilling spring for outfielders throughout the game. Baseball lovers could have the opportunity to see all that talent cover the same ground at the All-Star Game on July 10 in Kansas City.
Kemp's torrid start -- he was unanimously selected as the NL's Player of the Month for April after leading the Majors with a .417 batting average and hitting 12 home runs to go with 25 RBIs -- made coast-to-coast headlines in the first few weeks of the season. Only a balky hamstring has been able to slow him down, but he's due back before the end of the month.
Fans can cast their votes for starters up to 25 times at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- online or via a mobile device -- using the 2012 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot until June 28 at 11:59 p.m. ET.
"This is not new stuff," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "He's not anonymous. In L.A., they know him pretty well. The more he does this, the more he'll be seen everywhere and he's going to keep going."
Mattingly and the Dodgers hope that includes Kansas City's Kauffman Stadium, which Hamilton has frequented throughout his AL career. The Rangers outfielder, who entered Tuesday leading the way in the league's Triple Crown categories (18 homers, 47 RBIs, .379 average), put on a show of his own on May 8 against the Orioles when he became the 16th player in Major League history to hit four homers in a game, all the while setting an AL single-game record with 18 total bases.
"He's one of the best players in the game," said Orioles manager Buck Showalter, who witnessed Hamilton's talents firsthand. "You can see why."
Showalter has a standout outfielder of his own. Adam Jones appears to have reached his vast potential, his 14 homers second only to Hamilton to go with 29 RBIs and a .307 average.Just below Jones on the homer leaderboard is Carlos Beltran, who has stepped into Albert Pujols' shoes in St. Louis to the tune of 13 homers and 33 RBIs, good for third place among all outfielders.
Kemp's running mate in L.A., Andre Ethier, hasn't been too shabby himself. Could Ethier, who is hitting .314 with nine home runs and 38 RBIs, be together with Kemp in the NL's starting lineup in Kansas City?
Kemp and Ethier could potentially be forced to welcome a member of the rival Giants into the outfield as well, as Melky Cabrera has been on a tear, leading the Majors with 62 hits, good for a .360 average.
Or what about Giancarlo Stanton in the NL outfield? Among the thrilling 22-year-old's nine homers is a monstrous, scoreboard-crushing grand slam on Monday.
Also throw into the mix reigning NL MVP Ryan Braun (.333, 12 homers, 30 runs), Colorado's Carlos Gonzalez (.305, eight homers, 32 RBIs), Philadelphia's Hunter Pence (10 homers, 28 RBIs) and Cincinnati's Jay Bruce (10 homers, 27 RBIs).
There are sure to be surprises, as well. Players like Detroit's Austin Jackson (.331, 29 runs scored), Chicago's Alejandro De Aza (30 runs, 13 RBIs), and Oakland's Josh Reddick (11 homers, 24 RBIs) have all had stellar performances, offsetting uncertain expectations entering the year.
"We knew he had some power for a slight guy," Oakland skipper Bob Melvin said of Reddick, listed as 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds. "He extends and uses his lower half. The power was always there. I knew that talking to [hitting coach] Chili [Davis], who had him last year in Boston."
Fans can also once again participate in the State Farm Home Run Derby Fan Poll. Fans have the opportunity to select three players in each league who they would most like to see participate in the Derby. The 2012 State Farm Home Run Derby -- part of Gatorade All-Star Workout Day -- will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN HD, ESPN Deportes and ESPN Radio in the United States beginning at 8 p.m. ET on Monday, July 9.
The American League and National League All-Star teams will be unveiled on Sunday, July 1, on the 2012 MLB All-Star Game Selection Show, televised nationally on TBS. Baseball fans around the world will then be able to select the final player on each team via the 2012 All-Star Game Final Vote on MLB.com.
And the voting doesn't end there. The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again have fans participating in the official voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com via the 2012 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote, and their voice will represent 20 percent of the official vote determining the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
The 2012 All-Star Game will be played at Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday, July 10. MLB.com will have extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.
The 83rd All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and Sirius XM also will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com or royals.com/asg.