Because there was no designated hitter on last year's All-Star ballot (the game was played under National League rules in Houston), David Ortiz had to hope his peers would recognize his place as one of the blossoming sluggers in the game.
That mission was successful, as Ortiz not only went to the game, but belted a home run.This time, Ortiz likely won't have to rely on anything more than being the people's choice to get his ticket to the All-Star Game in Detroit. The DH is on the ballot this year, and Ortiz, barring a major surprise, will be the top vote-getter at the position. Ortiz, through two weeks of voting, is in front, with Jason Giambi, Rafael Palmeiro, Dmitri Young and Frank Thomas behind him.
With 958,811 votes, Ortiz has received the most votes of any player in the AL and holds a lead in excess of 700,000 votes at DH.Though Ortiz doesn't have to go through the grind of playing defense, DH can be a difficult position. Slumps tend to stay with you longer and each at-bat becomes an obsession. Then again, Ortiz hasn't had to deal with many since joining the Red Sox in 2003, as he's been one of the game's premier clutch hitters. "I do nothing except go up there and hit," said Ortiz. "That's the only way I can get people to know me, going out there and producing at the right time. But I don't know, I just try to do my best. ... I believe in myself, I believe I can do it. That's all I put in my mind." Ortiz also believes he'll have plenty of familiar company in Detroit for the July 12 Midsummer Classic. Sox slugger Manny Ramirez continues to lead all outfielders in the AL balloting. Sox captain Jason Varitek, seeking his second All-Star appearance in three years, is first among catchers. Kevin Millar, who has never been an All-Star, trails only Tino Martinez at first base. Center fielder Johnny Damon, an All-Star in 2002, is fourth among outfielders. He'll have to pass a superstar to get voted on to the team, as Vladimir Guerrero and Ichiro Suzuki are immediately ahead of him. Right fielder Trot Nixon, who has been a regular in the Boston lineup since 1999, is seventh in the outfield, moving up two slots from last week. Bill Mueller -- the 2003 American League batting champion -- is second behind Alex Rodriguez at third base. And Boston's double-play combo of shortstop Edgar Renteria and second baseman Mark Bellhorn are both in third place at their respective positions.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.