Puig second in NL Final Vote, eyes surge in last stretch
Rookie continues to trail Braves' Freeman; four-time All-Star Gonzalez in fifth place
SAN FRANCISCO -- Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez continue to need help from the fans to win this year's All-Star Game Final Vote.
As of the final voting update on Thursday morning, Puig remains in second place behind Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman for the lead in the National League. Giants outfielder Hunter Pence sits in third place, while the Nationals' Ian Desmond ranks fourth and Gonzalez is fifth.
Now in its 12th year, the 2013 All-Star Game Final Vote sponsored by freecreditscore.com gives baseball fans around the world the opportunity to select the final player on each All-Star team. Balloting began immediately following Saturday's Major League All-Star Selection Show presented by Taco Bell and ends today at 1 p.m. PT. The winners will be announced on MLB.com shortly thereafter.
For the second consecutive year, the 2013 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote sponsored by freecreditscore.com (#FinalVote) will include a social balloting element as Twitter support from the candidates' fans over the last six hours of balloting will count toward their final vote totals. From 7 a.m.-1 p.m. PT today, any tweet that includes a designated player hashtag will be tabulated as part of the overall vote total used to determine the American League and National League winners. Fans may follow @MLB on the popular social networking service for the latest standings updates in advance of the 1 p.m. PT balloting deadline.
To cast a vote for Puig be sure to include #VotePuig in your tweet. To vote for Gonzalez, use #VoteTitan.
Mobile voting in the U.S. and Canada is open to everyone. In the U.S., to receive the 2013 All-Star Game Final Vote sponsored by freecreditscore.com mobile ballot, text the word "VOTE" to 89269. To vote for Puig, simply text message N5 to 89269, and to vote for Gonzalez, text message N3. In Canada, fans should text N5 or N3 to 101010. Standard message and data rates may apply. To vote for another player via text message, use the codes below.
A1 -- Joaquin Benoit, Detroit, #BackBenoit
A2 -- Steve Delabar, Toronto, #RaiseTheBar
A3 -- David Robertson, New York Yankees, #HighSocksForVotes
A4 -- Tanner Scheppers, Texas, #TakeTanner
A5 -- Koji Uehara, Boston, #HighFiveCiti
N1 -- Ian Desmond, Washington, #DesiIn13
N2 -- Freddie Freeman, Atlanta, #Vote Freddie
N3 -- Adrian Gonzalez, Los Angeles, #VoteTitan
N4 -- Hunter Pence, San Francisco, #VotePence
N5 -- Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles, #VotePuig
Where are votes coming from? Which candidate is carrying your local area? Which state will play a key role in determining the final player on each All-Star Game roster? Use MLB.com's new online Final Vote data visualization map to see the geographic distribution of all of the candidates' votes. Scroll over any county in the 50 United States to see the color-coded display to show the online vote share for each player.
If Puig or Gonzalez wins the Final Vote, he would join Dodgers teammate Clayton Kershaw on this year's NL All-Star team. Kershaw was selected in balloting of players. The 2013 All-Star Game will be played at Citi Field in New York on July 16.
Nomar Garciaparra in 2006 became the only Dodger to earn an All-Star berth through the Final Vote process. Matt Kemp was a runner-up in 2009.
NL Candidates BY THE NUMBERS
The 22-year-old Puig, who finally succeeded last year after several failed attempts to defect from Cuba, was signed to a staggering seven-year, $42 million contract last summer as the Dodgers returned to the international signing market with a vengeance. He split time between rookie ball and Class A, had a stint in the Arizona Fall League scrubbed because of an elbow infection, then played part-time in the Puerto Rican Winter League.
Because Puig received a Major League contract, he came to Major League Spring Training and tore up the Cactus League. But with the Dodgers already having Kemp, Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford under multiyear contracts, Puig was sent to Double-A Chattanooga for further refinement.
But with early-season injuries to Kemp and Crawford, and the team's offense bogged down, management reluctantly promoted Puig on June 3, and he immediately became a baseball sensation, putting his name alongside such legends as Joe DiMaggio for the best debut months on record.
"There's been a lot of buzz about Puig, and rightfully so," said general manager Ned Colletti. "The All-Star Game is no longer an exhibition. The home-field advantage in the Fall Classic and it has more meaning than an exhibition. For four weeks, he's been one of the better players in the game. If he continues playing the way he's been, I think he deserves it. Over the last four weeks, give me somebody better."
With a body like former two-sport star Bo Jackson and a reckless aggressiveness like Willie Mays, Puig has immediately drawn the spotlight and appears comfortable with the attention. He set the Los Angeles rookie record for most hits in a calendar month (44), four shy of DiMaggio's MLB mark. Puig already has eight games with three or more hits. He homered in four of his first five games, was named NL Player of the Week and became the first player to win a Player of the Month award in his first month in the big leagues. Puig also became the fifth player to win Player and Rookie of the Month in the same month.
Gonzalez, a four-time All-Star, has been the most consistent run producer for a lineup that was supposed to be overloaded with them.
"He's had a good first half," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said of Gonzalez. "Obviously he should be in that mix. And Yasiel, it would be fun to see if he gets it."
Gonzalez came to the Dodgers last summer in the blockbuster trade that also brought Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto from the Red Sox. Although he half-jokingly calls himself "a singles hitter" after coming back from 2011 shoulder surgery, Gonzalez came into Saturday's game with 13 homers, including one in each game of a three-game series in Colorado this week.
Gonzalez also is a three-time Gold Glove winner with one Silver Slugger Award.
There will be an extra treat for fans who participate in the Final Vote online. If you are not a current MLB.TV subscriber (MLB.TV or MLB.TV Premium), you are eligible to receive a 14-day free trial of MLB.TV from July 12-26. If you are a current MLB.TV subscriber (MLB.TV or MLB.TV Premium), you will receive a 15 percent discount to the MLB.com Shop. MLB.com will send an email Friday to all Final Vote voters with instructions on how to redeem the applicable offer.
Fans, having already decided the starters and final player on each team, once again will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevrolet via the 2013 All-Star Game MVP Vote on MLB.com during the All-Star Game.
The 84th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM also will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.