The early All-Star results are in and the ballot boxes have been stuffed in a way you might expect. After scorching hot starts to their seasons, Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers (2.58 million votes) and Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers (1.91 million) lead their respective leagues in voting.
Balloting remains open until June 28 and it'll be interesting to see how Kemp's numbers hold (or don't) now that he's again on the sidelines with a hamstring injury.
A few other observations about the early results (all of which can be viewed here):
• Winning two straight American League titles has its rewards. The Rangers currently own five of the nine starting spots in the American League with Ian Kinsler, Adrian Beltre, Mike Napoli and Nelson Cruz joining Hamilton at the top of their respective positions. Michael Young, meanwhile, trails David Ortiz by about 150K votes in the DH category. That's quite a departure from the days when only Red Sox and Yankees ruled the starting spots, though Detroit's Prince Fielder is the only player not from Texas, New York or Boston who's currently in a starting spot.
• Albert Pujols' awful April not only put him behind the pace to hit his career numbers, but it's hurt him at the ballot box. Despite rebounding in a big way in May, the Angels slugger is fifth in the AL with 478,020 and lags behind the Rangers' Mitch Moreland by about 140K votes.
• How happy must Joey Votto be with the defections of Fielder and Pujols? Not only does the Cincinnati Reds first baseman have less competition for the NL Central title and NL MVP award, but he's set to be an All-Star starter shoo-in for the next few years. Votto currently has 1.3 million votes, more than double the number earned by Lance Berkman, the next closest NL first baseman.
• Paging fans in Philadelphia and on Chicago's South Side (as well as those who just like rewarding deserving players): Carlos Ruiz and Paul Konerko need your help. While both players have helped drive their team's offense with position-best performances, each man currently rests fourth in his category. They should have earned more votes.
• Better practice your penmanship if you're looking to cast a vote for the two marquee rookies because neither Bryce Harper nor Mike Trout were called up in time to be listed on the ballot. You'll need to write in the names of both players if you want to see them in Kansas City.
However, I don't quite understand why the online ballot can't be manipulated to add their names. It's not like there are election board rules that need to be followed. It's the All-Star game for Pete (Rose)'s sake!
• It's been said that including Harper and Trout would really up the interest in the Home Run Derby, but any possible fate will be decided by Kemp and Robinson Cano if either rookies make the All-Star team. Both men were named captains of the AL and NL Home Run Derby teams on Tuesday and each player will get to choose three other sluggers to join him in the contest.
Here's a video of some potential All-Stars pledging allegiance to their respective leagues: