Early results reveal tight NL All-Star voting
Pujols, Tulowitzki, Braun among leaders at their positions
With the National League looking to claim consecutive All-Star Game victories for the first time since 1996, the roster that will represent the league in that quest is in its initial stages of development.
More than a month remains before the starting position players will be announced for the All-Star Game -- to be held July 12 at Chase Field in Phoenix -- but the first look at voting results reveals a glimpse at how 2011 has shaped up thus far.
For one example, there's an NL Central race at first base, where 2010 starter Albert Pujols has the early edge over Joey Votto and Prince Fielder, just like the Cardinals have one on the Reds and Brewers in the division race.
For another, more unfortunate example, there's the case of Buster Posey, leaving the Giants wondering what could have been. Posey is off to the early lead in voting at catcher, these results announced just days after he sustained a broken fibula and torn ankle ligaments in a collision at home plate, ending his season.
In the weeks to come, the story will continue to unfold. So far, it's another interesting tale.
In results released Tuesday, Pujols is the top vote-getter overall, leading first base with 988,784 votes. Other position leaders are Posey at catcher, the Reds' Brandon Phillips at second base, the Rockies' Troy Tulowitzki (second in overall votes at 975,777) at shortstop, the Phillies' Placido Polanco at third base, and the Brewers' Ryan Braun (third overall at 971,809) joining the Cardinals' Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman as the current leaders in the outfield.
But the voting, like the ongoing story of 2011, is not nearly over.
Fans can cast their votes for starters up to 25 times at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- online or via your mobile device -- using the 2011 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Sprint until June 30 at 11:59 p.m. ET.
Starting rosters will be announced during the 2011 All-Star Game Selection Show on TBS on July 3. Baseball fans around the world will then be able to select the final player on each team via the 2011 All-Star Game Final Vote Sponsored by Sprint.
And the voting doesn't end there. Fans will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet at the Midsummer Classic via the 2011 All-Star Game MVP Vote Sponsored by Sprint.
As those votes are being considered and cast and counted, Pujols is on the cusp of a milestone All-Star year. Being on the roster this year would mark his 10th such honor. Only five active players currently have 10 or more All-Star seasons -- Pudge Rodriguez (14), Alex Rodriguez (13), Mariano Rivera (11), Derek Jeter (11) and Ichiro Suzuki (10).
So far, Pujols' offensive numbers are down a bit, while Votto (second with 806,346 votes), Fielder (540,269) and Ryan Howard of the Phillies (521,220) are all performing at a high level.
The catcher vote figures to change over the course of the next few weeks, with Posey (785,314 votes) declared out for the season, and 2010 All-Star MVP Brian McCann (about 150,000 votes behind Posey) and Cardinals backstop Yadier Molina (about 190,000 behind) both making good cases for themselves.
In other races, Phillips is being pursued by the Brewers' Rickie Weeks and, yes, the Phillies' Chase Utley, just a week back from a season-long stint on the disabled list. Tulowitzki has a strong early grip at shortstop, while Polanco has a sizable lead with 724,724 votes, but there are three pursuers with 500,000 votes or more: the Braves' Chipper Jones, the Giants' Pablo Sandoval and the Mets' David Wright. Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier has about 100,000 votes worth of ground to gain on the starting three, with teammate Matt Kemp, the Braves' Jason Heyward and the Phillies' Shane Victorino also hoping to stay in range.
The All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX and around the world by Major League Baseball International. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio play-by-play, while MLB.com will offer extensive online coverage.
2011 NATIONAL LEAGUE ALL-STAR BALLOTING (as of May 31)
Buster Posey, Giants: 785,314
Brian McCann, Braves: 633,987
Yadier Molina, Cardinals: 595,576
Carlos Ruiz, Phillies: 354,680
Ramon Hernandez, Reds: 350,771
Albert Pujols, Cardinals: 988,784
Joey Votto, Reds: 806,346
Prince Fielder, Brewers: 540,269
Ryan Howard, Phillies: 521,220
Freddie Freeman, Braves: 200,886
Brandon Phillips, Reds: 837,778
Rickie Weeks, Brewers: 562,071
Chase Utley, Phillies: 561,585
Dan Uggla, Braves: 465,219
Freddy Sanchez, Giants: 347,713
Placido Polanco, Phillies: 724,724
Chipper Jones, Braves: 540,168
Pablo Sandoval, Giants: 522,037
David Wright, Mets: 500,200
Scott Rolen, Reds: 370,271
Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies: 975,777
Jimmy Rollins, Phillies: 454,782
Jose Reyes, Mets: 408,699
Alex Gonzalez, Braves: 328,021
Stephen Drew, Diamondbacks: 303,811
Ryan Braun, Brewers: 971,809
Matt Holliday, Cardinals: 927,778
Lance Berkman, Cardinals: 872,434
Andre Ethier, Dodgers: 776,971
Matt Kemp, Dodgers: 549,215
Jason Heyward, Braves: 484,291
Shane Victorino, Phillies: 476,644
Carlos Beltran, Mets: 389,561
Alfonso Soriano, Cubs: 354,231
Justin Upton, Diamondbacks: 338,487
Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies: 337,728
Jay Bruce, Reds: 337,380
Raul Ibanez, Phillies: 294,294
Drew Stubbs, Reds: 292,907
Martin Prado, Braves: 284,558
John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.