Programming note: Tigers-A’s coverage starts tonight at 6:30 p.m. with A’s Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet California (Channel locations)
The early All-Star voting results show that A’s players are finally starting to gain some national name recognition.
Oakland third baseman Josh Donaldson leads the American League in fan balloting at his position, based on the first ballot results released Tuesday. It’s the first time in several years an A’s position player has even sniffed the top tier of fan voting. Donaldson has a chance to become the first A’s third baseman to ever earn a fan-elected start, and the first to do so at any position since first baseman Jason Giambi in 2000.
He holds a narrow lead over two-time All-Star starter Evan Longoria of Tampa Bay, 464,367 to 407,724.
Derek Norris ranks third among A.L. catchers with 215,110 votes and has some ground to make up to catch leader Matt Wieters of Baltimore (540,258).
Two other Athletics rank fifth at their respective positions – designated hitter Brandon Moss (144,319) and shortstop Jed Lowrie (142,622). Outfielder Yoenis Cespedes ranks just ninth among outfielders, but the 2013 Home Run Derby champ is on the 10-player fan ballot to participate in this year’s Derby.
The All-Star Game is set for July 15 at Target Field in Minnesota. In-stadium balloting will conclude no later than June 26. Fans can also vote online at mlb.com, the 30 team web sites and mobile devices through July 3.
There’s obviously a long way to go, but the appearance of so many A’s in the top five reflects the team’s growing national profile after back-to-back A.L. West championships. Donaldson was widely viewed as an All-Star snub last season, and the attention he got for NOT making it last season likely helps his case this season – not to mention his fourth-place finish in A.L. MVP voting in 2013.
Players and coaches will vote for All-Star reserves and pitchers, with A.L. manager John Farrell of Boston and N.L. manager Mike Matheny of St. Louis also given a set number of choices to fill out their rosters.