Cabrera second in first-base balloting

Cabrera second in first-base balloting

KANSAS CITY -- Miguel Cabrera arguably deserved some early credit for last year's American League home run title when All-Star balloting began. But he's going to need some help in Detroit and elsewhere if he's going to beat out his big-market counterparts in Boston and New York when balloting concludes.

The first balloting update is in, and Cabrera stands second among AL first basemen behind Kevin Youkilis of the Red Sox and just ahead of Mark Teixeira of the Yankees. He's the only Tigers player ranked among the top five in balloting at his respective position, probably not a surprise given the injuries and inconsistencies befalling Detroit on offense lately. Still, any hope of Cabrera's stellar second half lingering in voters' memories when balloting began seemed to have dissipated.

How Cabrera fares as voting continues will be a test of the get-out-the-vote effort in Detroit, where the Tigers have a first-place team but attendance just started to pick up as the school year wrapped up.

While Cabrera's power hasn't broken out among his peers in the stats quite yet, his .367 batting average had him ranked third in the league, neck-and-neck with the leaders entering the week. The 26-year-old has been the offensive catalyst, fueling a Detroit team that has become better known lately for its pitching staff led by Justin Verlander and Edwin Jackson.

In so doing, Cabrera has arguably become the face of the Tigers in the post-Pudge era since Ivan Rodriguez was traded last summer.

Detroit had no one in the American League's starting lineup last year for the first time since 2005. Though the results are still early, the Tigers are at serious risk of being shut out again. Cabrera would be by far their best hope, but he plays at a position with similarly big names on big-market teams. Justin Morneau, the former AL MVP, currently ranks fourth at first base in the balloting.

The 2009 All-Star Game will be played at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on July 14 at 8 p.m. ET.

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. In-person balloting at Comerica Park resumes when the Tigers return home next week and runs through June 21.

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.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.