The first vote-tallies have been released from the All-Star Game. Gentlemen, start your outrage!
Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton and Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp are Major League Baseball’s top overall vote-getters in the first balloting figures for the 83rd All-Star Game … Hamilton, a four-time A.L. All-Star, has received 2,587,991 votes as he attempts to make his fifth consecutive fan-elected start … Kemp (1,952,910) leads all N.L. vote-getters and ranks second in the Majors, trailing only Hamilton.
By position, the leaders break down thusly. And yes, for the AL these are All-Stars, not just the Rangers starting lineup:
American League: C: Mike Napoli; 1B: Prince Fielder; 2B: Ian Kinsler; SS: Derek Jeter; 3B: Adrian Beltre; OF: Hamilton, Curtis Granderson, Nelson Cruz; DH David Ortiz.
National League: C: Yadier Molina; 1B: Joey Votto; 2B: Dan Uggla; SS: Troy Tulowitzki; 3B: David Wright; OF: Kemp, Carlos Beltran, Ryan Braun.
Lots of Rangers and Cardinals in second place as well, which tells you a lot about attendance, how good their teams are and all of that. And the fact that, unlike in many recent years, Yankees players aren’t dominating in the early voting, suggests that the Yankees fans are feeling somewhat “meh” about things this year.
Lots of voting to go. And no, it won’t bear too close a relationship to who is actually doing the best at each position this year. But then again it never has, so things are pretty normal.
Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Cardinals’ catcher Yadier Molina is still open to extension talks during the last week of spring training. Once Opening Day rolls around, however, Molina has preemptively nixed any contract negotiations until the end of the 2017 season, when he’s scheduled to hit free agency.
Molina wants to stay with the Cardinals, or so he’s telling reporters, but he’s also “not afraid” to test the free agent market this fall should a deal fail to materialize. Via Goold:
I would love to stay, but at the same time I’m not afraid to go to free agency. I’ve still got many years in the tank. Believe me. I feel great. I feel like a 20-year-old kid. I’m not afraid to go to free agency.
The 34-year-old backstop is entering his final year under contract, though Goold points out that he has a $15 million option for 2018 that he can choose to decline in the event that it’s exercised by the team. He’s reportedly searching for a figure closer to those made by other top catchers like Buster Posey and Russell Martin.
The 2017 season will mark Molina’s 14th year in the Cardinals’ organization, building on a career that has spanned seven All-Star campaigns, nine postseason runs and two World Series championships in St. Louis. He batted .307/.360/.427 with eight home runs and a .787 OPS for the club in 2016.
Colby Rasmus isn’t ready to take outfield reps just yet. According to Rays’ manager Kevin Cash, that’s a red flag, one that could potentially postpone Rasmus’ debut as the club’s designated hitter and outfielder in 2017. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Rasmus will need to prove he can play a defensive position before getting cleared for the active roster, something which the veteran outfielder has yet to do this spring.
Rasmus, 30, signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Rays following his two-year run with the Astros. He batted a meager .206/.286/.355 with 15 home runs and a .641 OPS in 2016 and was shut down in late September with an unspecified hip/groin issue. Entering the 2017 season, he’s expected to work his way back to a full-time role after undergoing surgery to repair his core muscle and left hip labrum last October.
The Rays also finalized their one-year, $1.2 million deal with catcher Derek Norris on Saturday and will need to clear room for him on the 40-man roster. Topkin speculates that the move could send Rasmus to the 60-day disabled list, though the outfielder is not projected to miss more than a couple weeks of the regular season.