The Angels' Howard Kendrick is showing that he belongs in the conversation -- and is worthy of All-Star support -- for his breakout performance this season.
Swinging with feeling, Kendrick stormed out of the chute with three home runs in the season's opening series at Kansas City, and the powerfully constructed athlete has continued to wield a deadly weapon.
Kendrick, looking to make the American League All-Star team for the first time, joins teammates Torii Hunter, a four-time All-Star, and three-time All-Star Vernon Wells on the ballot.
Also representing the Angels on the ballot are first baseman Kendrys Morales, shortstop Erick Aybar, third baseman Maicer Izturis, outfielder Peter Bourjos, catcher Jeff Mathis and designated hitter Bobby Abreu.
"Up to his last 20, 25 at-bats, Howie has been as locked in as any hitter in baseball," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "His number of walks is way up because he's laying off bad pitches."
Fans can cast their votes for starters up to 25 times at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- online or via your mobile device -- using the 2011 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Sprint until June 30 at 8:59 p.m. PT.
Balloting at Angel Stadium is available to fans from April 27 through June 12.
Starting rosters will be announced during the 2011 All-Star Game Selection Show on TBS on July 3. Baseball fans around the world will then be able to select the final player on each team via the 2011 All-Star Game Final Vote Sponsored by Sprint.
And the voting doesn't end there. Fans will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet at the Midsummer Classic via the 2011 All-Star Game MVP Vote Sponsored by Sprint.
The All-Star Game, to be played at Chase Field in Phoenix on July 12, will be televised nationally by FOX and around the world by Major League Baseball International. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio play-by-play, while MLB.com will offer extensive online coverage.
Like Kendrick, Izturis has been playing at an All-Star level as a leadoff man and all-purpose chess piece in the hands of manager Mike Scioscia. The versatile Izturis has been hitting at career-high levels and producing under pressure while playing shortstop as well as third base with Aybar forced out for 14 games.
Bourjos, one of the game's fastest and most exciting players, has held his own offensively while playing center field at a level matched by few players in the Major Leagues.
Abreu has been an All-Star twice, in 2004 and '05, while playing for the Phillies. Among those he's competing with for the designated hitter assignment is former Angels star Vladimir Guerrero, now with the Orioles.
"Vernon and I haven't gotten in a groove yet, but we will," Hunter said. "Howie, Izzy and Bobby have pretty much carried the offense, and our pitching has been great."
Hunter and Wells, formerly the Blue Jays' center fielder, were teammates for the AL last year in the All-Star Game at Angel Stadium. It was won by the National League, giving its eventual champion, the Giants, home-field advantage for the World Series.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less