Chase Utley’s 537,788 votes are more than 100,000 higher than the next-closest player, Chipper Jones (420,664). Meanwhile, the Cubs should be well-represented.
Nothing ruins an All-Star game like a good Cubs team and their unabashed fans. When the Cubbies win, their fans could punch ballots all the live-long day. NL second base isn't the deepest position in terms of talent, but Utley is deserving. Florida's Dan Uggla is also pretty deserving, but trails Utley, Kaz Matsui and Mark DeRosa. In addition to Utley, Jimmy Rollins ranks fifth among NL shortstops in voting, Ryan Howard ranks fifth among first basemen and Pat Burrell ranks sixth among outfielders. Besides Utley and Jones, top vote-getters, by position, include Lance Berkman, Hanley Ramirez, Giovanny Soto, Alfonso Soriano, Kosuke Fukudome and Ken Griffey Jr. The figures were released by baseball today. [NL Voting] [AL Voting]
Vote for Burrell: Pat the Bat has yet to be named to an All-Star team, and this would be a good time to change that. According to Hardball Times Win Shares, he’s tied for second among NL outfielders, trailing Pittsburgh’s Nate McLouth, who also needs your votes (although he’ll be named to the team for sure). Alfonso Soriano is the leading vote-getter among NL outfielders and he isn’t having a particularly good season. And enough with Ken Griffey Jr. already. Please. Ryan Church for the rival Mets also deserves more votes. [Vote for Burrell]
Kendrick goes on the attack: Here’s the million-dollar question (so important that I saved it for 3:45 in the afternoon and buried it all the way down here): Do the Phillies have the pitching to win in the post-season? Not to simply reach the post-season, but to win and win deep? While the latest offensive outburst has brought smiles to our faces, the night Kendrick had was just as delightful. For seven solid, he resembled a guy who could win a playoff game, pitching a career-high 7 1-3 innings with five strikeouts, a walk and two runs.
Granted, the Rockies aren’t fielding a playoff-caliber lineup, but it was a better lineup than the previous night, and the way Kendrick pitched he would have been tough on anyone. He took a hard-line approach with a weaker club, just as Jamie Moyer did during the middle innings the night before. He was aggressive. He was locating. He was driving hard to the plate. He was forcing groundballs. He was hitting 92 on the gun consistently, and topping 93 in the middle frames. I suspect if the weather hadn’t been threatening, he would have kept pace and gone the full eight. Up 7-1 with storm clouds looming, he rushed.
The Phillies’ lineup had no trouble pounding Ubaldo Jiminez’s 98 mph cheese. They’ll hit this type of pitcher. Jimmy Rollins had a couple good hits, including a line shot to center. Rollins isn’t going to repeat as MVP, and doesn’t have the home runs, but he’s swinging the bat as well as anyone in the lineup.
Filling in at left field for Pat Burrell, who was out with a stiff neck, Greg Dobbs continues to hit, going two-for-four with two RBIs. What a nice player he’s been since making the jump to the National League, where he’s flourished. In 71 at bats, he’s knocked in 17 for a total of 72 as a member of the Phils. That’s outstanding value for a waiver claim, and he doesn't hurt them defensively. Plus, I suspect he's a clubhouse asset, too. I'm checking on that.