Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Chase Utley, the most popular National League player in balloting for the 2008 Midsummer Classic, has jumped to the top spot for the first time in this yearâ€™s race, overtaking first baseman Albert Pujols of the host St. Louis Cardinals in the fourth balloting update for the 2009 All-Star Game, to be played Tuesday, July 14th at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.
Pujols (.324, 22 HR, 57 RBI) and Utley (.305, 15 HR, 43 RBI) ranked first and second, respectively, in the first three weeks of N.L. balloting. Utley, who drew an N.L.-best 3,889,602 votes in 2008 as he earned the starting nod for a third straight season, has now taken first place among all N.L. players for the first time in 2009 with 2,273,355 votes. Pujols, a seven-time N.L. All-Star, has garnered 2,158,036 votes. New York Mets third baseman David Wright (.364, 4 HR, 36 RBI), who has collected 1,256,736 votes, maintains an edge over his boyhood friend, Washington Nationals mainstay Ryan Zimmerman (.310, 12 HR, 42 RBI), who has drawn 920,780 votes. The tightest contest in the infield is at shortstop, as Jimmy Rollins (5 HR, 25 RBI, 10 SB) holds the advantage over his N.L. East rival, Hanley Ramirez (.330, 8 HR, 34 RBI) of the Florida Marlins. Rollins has accumulated 1,216,007 votes, ahead of the 1,128,547 cast for Ramirez.
Behind the plate, Yadier Molina (.264, 4 HR, 19 RBI) of the Cardinals continues to lead with 1,051,485 votes as he seeks his first All-Star invitation, while Atlanta Braves backstop Brian McCann (.327, 6 HR, 26 RBI), an All-Star in each of his first three full seasons, remains in contention with 895,663. Yadier also is outpacing his older brother Bengie (.257, 10 HR, 39 RBI) of the San Francisco Giants, who ranks fifth with 793,580 votes.
In the outfield, slugger Raul IbaĂ±ez (.322, 22 HR, 59 RBI) of the Phillies is in front of the pack with 1,897,905 votes as he pursues the first All-Star berth of his 14-year Major League career. Ryan Braun (.313, 13 HR, 42 RBI) of the Milwaukee Brewers ranks second with 1,667,029. The third spot is contested between two veteran All-Stars, as Carlos Beltran (.344, 8 HR, 39 RBI) of the Mets holds a slim lead over Alfonso Soriano of the Chicago Cubs. Beltran has attracted 1,367,412 votes, ahead of Sorianoâ€™s 1,340,699. IbaĂ±ezâ€™s teammate, Shane Victorino, ranks fifth with 1,116,524.
For those following the voting on suspended Dodgers outfielding slugger Manny Ramirez, he has slipped from 5th to 6th in voting for N.L. outfielders with 999,800 votes, 116,724 behind Victorino. Ramirez was suspended 50 games for on May 8. He is found to have elevated testosterone levels when tested during Spring Training. The elevated levels of testosterone leads to an investigation by the league which then discovers that Ramirez has been using hGC, a substance known to be used by serial steroid users to kick-start the body's natural testosterone products after a steroid cycle.Â
The 2009 A.L. and N.L. All-Star Teams will be unveiled on Sunday, July 5th on the 2009 MLB All-Star Selection Show presented by Pepsi, televised nationally on TBS from 1:00-2:00 p.m. (EDT).
Select Read More to see the latest N.L. All-Star Game ballot update
Click to view N.L. ballot as of June 15, 2009 (PDF)
Source: Major League Baseball, Business of Sports Network research
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.
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