Oakland Athletics third baseman Josh Donaldson (20) celebrates a home run with third base coach Mike Gallego (2) in a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. The Toronto Blue Jays won 3-1. USA TODAY Sports: Nick Turchiaro)
OAKLAND, Calif. — The first balloting numbers were released Tuesday for the 85th All-Star Game, and A’s third baseman Josh Donaldson is well-positioned to make team history.
Donaldson leads all American League third basemen with 464,367 votes. The Tampa Bay Rays’ Evan Longoria is second (407,724), and the Texas Rangers’ Adrian Beltre is third (281,460).
The A’s haven’t had a position player on the AL All-Star team since catcher Ramon Hernandez in 2003. They haven’t had a position player voted in by fans to start an All-Star game since first baseman Jason Giambi in 2000.
Since 2000, only three A’s position players made the All-Star team: Giambi (twice), shortstop Miguel Tejada and Hernandez. Carney Lansford in 1988 was the last A’s third baseman to make the team. No A’s third baseman has started an All-Star Game.
In 2013, Donaldson finished fourth in the AL Most Valuable Player voting but didn’t make the All-Star team.
“Last year at this time, I wasn’t on the top-five ballot,” Donaldson said Tuesday before the Athletics’ 6-5 loss to the Detroit Tigers. “Kevin Youkilis, I don’t even think he was playing at the time, and he was on the ballot. I think it shows you a little bit how it’s come from last year to this year.”
Donaldson’s All-Star Game snub actually thrust him into the spotlight and put him a good position to make a run at making the team this year.
“Yeah, I think it did,” Donaldson said. “With that being said, I would have been surprised if I made it last year. Did I feel my numbers were worthy of an All-Star selection? Sure. But I definitely understood the fact I kind of came out of nowhere. Nobody was really looking for me to have that kind of season and then I had it. Things in baseball tend to happen, there’s a little bit of a lag. I think that’s what’s happened.”
Three other A’s position players are among the top five at their positions. Catcher Derek Norris is third, shortstop Jed Lowrie fifth and DH Brandon Moss fifth. Left fielder Yoenis Cespedes is ninth among outfielders.
“He should be first in the voting,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said of Donaldson. “It’s taken us awhile to get some recognition, and for him to be in that position means that nationally we’re getting noticed a little bit more as a team, that we do have some really good players here, that we’re not just that little engine that could, that we really have some good players here. And so it’s nice to see him getting that kind of recognition.”
Donaldson said it would mean a lot to him for the A’s to end their All-Star Game drought for position players.
“I think what’s going to end up happening is … a guy on this team is going to make the All-Star team, a position player,” Donaldson said. “And what’s going to end up happening is it’s going to open doors for other people to get recognized on our team. It’s not just because we don’t have good players. We have good players. It just has to get out there.”