The Tigers are in line to put the right side of their infield into the American League's starting lineup for this summer's All-Star Game. Their league-leading designated hitter, however, is going to need a rally to join them.
At the first balloting update released Tuesday, two-time reigning AL MVP Miguel Cabrera appears to have carried his vote support from last year across the infield to first base, a position he couldn't win in fan balloting during his previous stint there. Ian Kinsler's strong start, meanwhile, has translated into fan support in a close race at second base and a chance to earn his first All-Star start.
Cabrera, whose All-Star status looked shaky a month ago thanks to a slow start, has used a dominant May to build about a 69,000-vote lead over resurgent Albert Pujols and rookie sensation Jose Abreu. After finally getting the fan vote into the All-Star lineup last year at third base, Cabrera's early totals suggest that support has held in his positional move to a more crowded race at first.
If it continues, Cabrera would become just the fifth Tiger to be voted into the starting lineup twice in his career. Ivan Rodriguez and Lance Parrish both won three fan votes at catcher while in Detroit, while Bill Freehan and Lou Whitaker earned starting nods twice.
While Cabrera still faces competition, the early votes suggest the closest race on the ballot will be at second, where Kinsler could finally be the one to break the stranglehold that Robinson Cano held on the starting job for the past four years as a Yankee.
Kinsler leads the now-Mariner Cano by less than 6,000 votes as of the first update. Likewise, Dustin Pedroia of the reigning World Series champion Boston Red Sox trails Kinsler by just 13,000 votes. Considering Kinsler entered Tuesday neck-and-neck with Cano among the AL batting leaders, and just ahead of him in OPS, it's one race that reflects the stats.
"It's cool that fans can vote. It keeps them involved and they seem to enjoy it," Kinsler said. "It's so far away from the All-Star break. It's cool to be leading right now and to have that recognition, but at the same time, I'm working to deal with the daily grind of baseball. I hope to continue to play well and make the All-Star team."
Not since Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis in 2008 have teammates been voted into the same All-Star Game on the right side of the infield. Not since '07, when Placido Polanco used a late rally to earn the nod, has a Tigers second baseman started in the Midsummer Classic.
While Cabrera and Kinsler both rank in the AL's top 10 in hitting, the league batting leader is looking at a tough task to join them in the starting lineup. Not even a .341 batting average and 1.004 OPS entering Tuesday were enough for Victor Martinez to threaten ex-teammate David Ortiz in fan balloting at designated hitter.
Not only does Martinez trail Ortiz by about 161,000 votes in early voting, he trails Baltimore's Nelson Cruz by more than 140,000 votes for second place. Ortiz has served as the AL's starting DH each of last three years. Martinez has never started an All-Star Game and hasn't made the team since 2010, the year before he signed with Detroit.
The only other Tiger in the top five in balloting at his respective position was a bit of a surprise. Rookie Nick Castellanos ranks fifth among third basemen with 157,768 votes, well out of the running for the starting job, with Oakland's Josh Donaldson and Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria hundreds of thousands of votes ahead of him, but the strongest support for an AL rookie besides Abreu.
Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- online or on a mobile device -- using the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian until Thursday, July 3, at 11:59 p.m. ET. The 2014 All-Star Game will be played at Target Field on Tuesday, July 15.
Fans may submit up to 25 online ballots, but they can also earn a one-time bonus of 10 additional online ballots. To access these additional online ballots, you must be logged into your MLB.com account when you submit any online ballot. If you do not have an MLB.com account, register on the site in accordance with the enrollment instructions for a free MLB.com account.
Fans can vote in person at Comerica Park when the team returns home next week, all the way up to June 18.
The 2014 All-Star teams will be unveiled on the 2014 MLB All-Star Game Selection Show during the weekend of July 5-6, with further details to follow on MLB.com. The AL will have nine elected starters via the fan balloting program, while the NL will have eight fan-elected starters. Pitchers and reserves for both squads -- totaling 25 for the NL and 24 for the AL -- will be determined through a combination of "Player Ballot" choices and selections made by All-Star managers Mike Matheny (NL) and John Farrell (AL).
Immediately following the announcement of the rosters, you can select the final player for each league's 34-man roster via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Experian. Choose again at that point from among five players in each league. The Final Vote returns for its 13th season with more than 430 million votes cast to date, and you'll be able to make selections on MLB.com, club sites and your mobile device.
You'll be on a voting tear at that point, having already selected starters and the last men, and the ritual will not end there. The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again have fans participating in the voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the big game, vote exclusively online at MLB.com via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote Sponsored by Pepsi. The fan voice will represent 20 percent of the overall vote that determines the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.
The 85th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX, 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 SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.