Chicago Cubs outfielder Kosuke Fukudome, who has been among the National League?s leaders at the position since the start of balloting, is in a tight race with the surging Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers in the final weekly balloting update for the 79th All-Star Game, to be played on Tuesday, July 15th at Yankee Stadium. Fukudome has drawn 1,783,983 votes, trailing his teammate, Alfonso Soriano (2,120,635), and the most popular player in the history of Major League Baseball All-Star Game balloting, Ken Griffey, Jr. (1,917,739) of the Cincinnati Reds, among N.L. outfielders. Braun, who was as low as 10th place among outfielders on June 3rd, has collected 1,751,058 votes, leaving him only 32,925 votes behind Fukudome. Fukudome, a longtime member of the Chunichi Dragons and the Most Valuable Player of Japan?s Central League in 2006, is batting .299 with six home runs, 33 RBI, 55 runs scored, 51 walks and a .407 on-base percentage on the season. Braun, the 2007 N.L. Rookie of the Year, is batting .287 with 20 home runs, 58 RBI, 45 runs scored and a .552 slugging percentage. Another tight race is at shortstop, where the topsy-turvy contest between Hanley Ramirez of the Florida Marlins and Miguel Tejada of the Houston Astros will go down to the wire. Ramirez led the race for the first two weeks before Tejada took the top spot for the ensuing pair of updates. Ramirez, the 2006 N.L. Rookie of the Year, regained the mantle last week. Ramirez, seeking his Midsummer Classic debut, has accumulated 1,483,875 votes. Tejada, a four-time A.L. All-Star, has drawn 1,315,240 votes. Ramirez is batting .294 with 18 home runs, 35 RBI, 69 runs scored and 20 stolen bases, while Tejada is hitting .287 with 10 home runs, 43 RBI and 56 runs scored. Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Chase Utley continues to be Major League Baseball?s leading overall vote-getter with 2,645,027 votes. Other position leaders are first baseman Lance Berkman (2,132,663) of the Astros; Major League Baseball?s leading hitter, third baseman Chipper Jones (2,433,753) of the Atlanta Braves; and Cubs rookie catcher Geovany Soto (1,827,279).
Fukudome, Braun Battle For NL Outfield Spot