A month remains in this year's All-Star fan balloting, and so far the Angels are bidding to place all three of their starting outfielders in the Midsummer Classic.Last year's American League MVP, right fielder Vladimir Guerrero, ranks second to Boston's Manny Ramirez among American League outfielders. Left fielder Garret Anderson, the Angels' all-time hits leader, ranks 12th in AL outfield voting, while center fielder Steve Finley is right behind at No. 13. Guerrero is currently on the disabled list recovering from a partially dislocated left shoulder, but before his injury, he piled up some impressive statistics: a .303 batting average in 41 games, with 10 doubles, seven homers, 24 RBIs, 24 runs and five steals in five attempts. He has received 542,541 votes, about 11,000 fewer than Ramirez (553,959) and about 27,000 more than Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki (515,343).
The Angels have kept up their strong play with Guerrero out, but manager Mike Scioscia knows how much Guerrero had to do with the Angels' strong start."Vlad was sometimes the lone soldier out there earlier in the year," Scioscia said of his five-time All-Star. Anderson's been hampered lately by a sore hamstring, but it hasn't slowed his bat one bit. The 32-year-old has piled up a team-high 55 hits through Monday batting .293 with 11 doubles, five homers and a team-best 38 RBIs. Despite his strong numbers, two-time All-Star Anderson feels partly responsible for the Angels' at-times inconsistent offense, and he is far from complacent about his performance or his team's. "It's nice to get a couple good nights, but there's still a long way to go," he said of the 30-run outburst by the Halo offense over the weekend. "You stay positive and you try to get the job done. That's something you want to string together for quite some time." Finley, in his first year with the Angels, was batting only .219 entering Tuesday's action, but he had driven in 30 runs, drawn 14 walks and stolen five bases. "As long as you're helping the team win games, that's the bottom line," Finley said. "You don't worry about how you get them, you just worry about getting them." Finley's made the most of his hits this season, as 18 of his 35 entering Monday had gone for extra bases. "He's much more productive than his batting average would indicate," Scioscia said of two-time All-Star Finley. "Runs scores and runs driven in, that's what it's all about." The Angels' outfielders are polling well and Guerrero is close to a lock for an All-Star berth, but two pitchers stand an excellent chance of being selected as well. Reliever Scot Shields has both served as a setup man and filled in as closer while 2004 All-Star Francisco Rodriguez has been on the disabled list, and the results have been fantastic. Through Sunday, he was 4-1 with seven saves in eight chances, eight holds, and a sterling 1.50 ERA, having allowed only 16 hits in 30 innings pitched while striking out 38. "There's no doubt he's our most valuable pitcher," Scioscia said. "Not just his production, but the versatility he brings." Ace Bartolo Colon is 6-3 with a 2.75 ERA in 11 starts, allowing only 65 hits in 75 1/3 innings. The right-hander has anchored the Angels' staff all season, averaging almost seven innings per start and picked up a half-dozen wins, even though the Angels have scored more than two runs with him in the game only one time this season. "He's a bulldog," Shields said of Colon. "It's fun to see him pitch, because he can work the corners with the best of them." If Colon keeps it up, he's very likely to be selected for the American League All-Star staff for the second time in his career.
Mark Thoma is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.