PHILADELPHIA -- Chase Utley is back on top among National League second basemen.
Major League Baseball released its first voting update for the National League All-Star team on Wednesday, and Utley has a commanding lead at second base. He has 509,390 votes, with Dodgers second baseman Dee Gordon trailing significantly at 304,258 votes.
It should be no surprise. Utley is hitting .333 with 21 doubles, three triples, four home runs, 25 RBIs and a .936 OPS, which is the seventh-highest mark among all qualifying players in the NL. His .945 OPS in plate appearances as a second baseman is first in the league, with Pittsburgh's Neil Walker a distant second at .818.
"Just his quality games, his quality at-bats," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said when asked what has amazed him most about Utley. "He grinds out every at-bat. He's hitting left-handed pitching. He's faced and has produced against the better pitchers in the league. He just makes the adjustments. He's just totally prepared every single day. He just does his homework. He's ready to play."
Fans voted Utley the NL All-Star starter at second base from 2006-10. Injuries removed him from consideration the past three years -- particularly 2011-12, when he missed significant time with chronic knee issues.
Sandberg considers Utley's knees a non-factor these days.
"Knock on wood, yeah," Sandberg said.
Utley is the only Phillies' position player to be among the top vote-getters at his respective position. The most glaring admission might be Jimmy Rollins, who is second among NL shortstops with a .792 OPS.
"I like everything that he's doing on the field, also," Sandberg said. "Those two guys up the middle, though, it's a luxury to have them on a daily basis. They're heads-up players. They're into the game. They think along with myself. In a lot of ways, they're extra coaches out there in the middle of the diamond."
Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- online or on a mobile device -- using the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian until Thursday, July 3, at 11:59 p.m. ET. The 2014 All-Star Game will be played at Target Field on Tuesday, July 15.
Fans may submit up to 25 online ballots, but they can also earn a one-time bonus of 10 additional online ballots. To access these additional online ballots, you must be logged into your MLB.com account when you submit any online ballot. If you do not have an MLB.com account, register on the site in accordance with the enrollment instructions for a free MLB.com account.
The 2014 All-Star teams will be unveiled on the 2014 MLB All-Star Game Selection Show during the weekend of July 5-6, with further details to follow on MLB.com. The American League will have nine elected starters via the fan balloting program, while the NL will have eight fan-elected starters. Pitchers and reserves for both squads -- totaling 25 for the NL and 24 for the AL -- will be determined through a combination of "Player Ballot" choices and selections made by All-Star managers Mike Matheny (NL) and John Farrell (AL).
Immediately following the announcement of the rosters, you can select the final player for each league's 34-man roster via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Experian. Choose again at that point from among five players in each league. The Final Vote returns for its 13th season with more than 430 million votes cast to date, and you'll be able to make selections on MLB.com, club sites and your mobile device.
You'll be on a voting tear at that point, having already selected starters and the last men, and the ritual will not end there. The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again have fans participating in the voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the big game, vote exclusively online at MLB.com via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote Sponsored by Pepsi. The fan voice will represent 20 percent of the overall vote that determines the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.
The 85th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX, 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 will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less