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The thought of multiple A’s players starting the All-Star Game looks more and more like a realistic possibility.
The latest fan voting results were released Sunday evening, and it was good news for the A’s. Josh Donaldson continues to hold a lead of more than one million votes at third base. Derek Norris jumped ahead of the Yankees’ Brian McCann for second place at catcher behind the injured Matt Wieters, and Yoenis Cespedes crept closer to the third starting spot in the outfield.
Fans vote in the position-player starters, while player votes and managers’ choices determine All-Star reserves and pitchers. Fan voting runs through July 3.
Norris says all the right things you’d expect him to say about the All-Star Game, ranking team success ahead of individual accolades.
[RELATED: Norris takes another blow to the head]
“Would you rather be an All-Star or win the World Series?” Norris said before Sunday’s loss to Boston. “I’m going to tell you I’m gonna win the World Series. That’s No. 1 on my list.”
A little later in the interview, Norris can’t contain a smile and adds:
“I would love to start in that game. It would be a dream come true.”
First off, Norris would have to be healthy enough. He went to the hospital Sunday for a CAT scan after getting struck with a backswing for the fourth time in the past two weeks. Early indications are he’s OK, and Norris tweeted a message to fans Sunday night saying that he looks forward to playing Tuesday against the New York Mets.
Norris (1,486,850 votes) trails Wieters by 365,920 in fan balloting, and he leads McCann by 142,774 votes for second. Wieters is expected to miss the rest of the season due to Tommy John surgery, but that does not mean Norris would automatically slide into the starting spot as the second-place finisher. In the event a fan-voted starter is injured, the player who receives the most player votes at the position (who is not already starting) gets the nod.
Cespedes (1,511,838) trails Toronto’s Melky Cabrera by 162,394 votes for the final outfield starting spot.
Clearly, the exposure from back-to-back A.L. West championships is paying dividends on an individual standpoint for the A’s when it comes to voting. But it would seem the A’s have as many as seven legitimate All-Star candidates when you also count pitchers and potential reserves.
Let’s break down the chances of the A’s other primary All-Star hopefuls besides Donaldson, Cespedes and Norris, in alphabetical order:
Sean Doolittle – His current numbers are looking impossible to ignore, and the lefty closer would seem to stand a strong chance of gaining his first All-Star invite. He has 50 strikeouts while issuing just one walk – phenomenal numbers. Doolittle, who has 10 saves, sports the lowest WHIP (0.58) of any A.L. reliever with more than 15 appearances. A’s manager Bob Melvin will likely make a phone call soon to A.L. manager John Farrell and lobby on behalf of his players. You can bet he’ll push hard for Doolittle.
Sonny Gray – You could sub in fellow starter Jesse Chavez into this spot too, since his numbers are very similar to Gray’s and in some categories superior. But you have to think Gray’s name will stand out more in the minds of players as they fill out their ballots. It may not matter. Doolittle seems to stand a great shot of making it, as well as A’s starter Scott Kazmir. There’s only room for so many pitchers from Oakland’s staff.
Scott Kazmir – We stole Kazmir’s thunder while discussing Gray. Is there any way that the A’s lefty isn’t an All-Star? Sure doesn’t seem like it. His 2.08 ERA leads A.L. starters who have pitched all season. He’s third in WHIP (0.95) and tied for third in wins (9).
Brandon Moss – The slugger makes a strong case for an All-Star nod. He ranks sixth in the league in RBI (55), tied for sixth in homers (17) and ninth in OPS (.874). But could Moss be hurt by seeing time at so many positions? He’s on the fan ballot as a DH (and currently fifth in votes), but also sees time at first base and the outfield. If a deserving A’s player falls through the cracks, it feels like it might be Moss.