The latest round of American League All-Star votes were released on Tuesday and it will be the final update on the vote totals until the starters are revealed this weekend.
Rangers fans have made a strong show of support for their team, if not their understanding of quality baseball, during the voting process. Mitch Moreland, who has been bad all year and is currently injured, is fourth in the voting at first base ahead of players like Albert Pujols and Chris Davis (who was, of course, sent packing to keep Moreland in the lineup) while Nelson Cruz is fourth among outfielders for reasons that escape easy explanation.
Cruz has a shot to pass Jose Bautista for a starting spot, which would be a pretty dismal development for the game. Rangers fans should recall that, for better or worse, home field in advantage in the World Series is based on who wins the Midsummer Classic and stop voting for Cruz immediately.
After all, it's not like they are going to be short on Rangers when the game rolls around. Adrian Beltre, Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli will all start the game unless someone pulls off some serious hijinx with the voting and, unlike Cruz, all of them deserve slots in the game. Hamilton will be the leading vote-getter in all of baseball, which should make it okay for all of the Cruz fanatics to move on with their lives.
Who else should join those three starters? We'll start with Ian Kinsler, who has a shot to beat out Robinson Cano but shouldn't based on the performance of the two players this year. Being worse than Cano doesn't mean Kinsler shouldn't be at the game, though. He's the second best second baseman in the American League and that should earn him a ticket to the dance.
Elvis Andrus also deserves a spot on the roster, although he could wind up being left out if the AL goes with just one shortstop. Derek Jeter will win the voting and Asdrubal Cabrera's brilliant first half makes him a must for the roster, leaving Andrus to sweat things out. Having Ron Washington running the team should help his cause, but the need to have one player from every team always forces out players from well-stocked teams.
Joe Nathan could find himself in similar straits, although he's been one of the three best AL closers this year along with Fernando Rodney and Chris Perez. That plus Wash should be enough to get him the gig. Robbie Ross has had a nice year as a set-up man, but there have been better ones and that's a tough way to find your way onto the team anyway.
That leaves starting pitchers, where the Rangers have a mess of candidates. Matt Harrison and Yu Darvish have gotten the most attention for a spot, 10 wins don't hurt even in a more enlightened baseball age, but Colby Lewis could make the exact same argument as either guy with a far better strikeout-to-walk ratio than either of the other guys.
Lewis' injury takes him out of consideration, but there are a mess of pitchers with credentials in the same vicinity. Figuring out who among Harrison, Darvish, Jason Hammel, Felix Hernandez, C.J. Wilson, Jake Peavy and David Price deserve to join obvious selections Justin Verlander, Chris Sale and Jered Weaver is pretty much drawing straws.
Harrison would be the vote here, mostly because guys who walk almost five batters per nine don't register as All-Stars. Thanks to MLB's inability to decide if the All-Star Game counts or if it is an exhibition, Darvish could still make it. Pitchers who start on Sunday aren't eligible to pitch in the game and that will likely knock out a worthy pitcher or two (not to mention injuries like the one that sent CC Sabathia to the DL on Wednesday) to open a door for the rookie.