All-Star attitude has Zimmerman in Final Vote

All-Star attitude has Zimmerman in Final Vote

WASHINGTON -- It's not hard to figure out why third baseman Ryan Zimmerman should win the 2010 All-Star Final Vote sponsored by Sprint.

He is the best player on the Nationals' roster. Zimmerman is having one of the better seasons of his career, hitting .286 with 14 home runs, 44 RBIs and a team-high 49 runs scored, which is tied for the most among National League third basemen.

After the first 24 hours of voting, Zimmerman narrowly trails the Reds' Joey Votto for the NL's final spot. After Zimmerman, closer Billy Wagner of the Braves, left fielder Carlos Gonzalez of the Rockies and closer Heath Bell of the Padres are vying for votes.

"He is a special player. I think he is a perennial All-Star," Nationals third-base coach Pat Listach said. "I hope he gets voted in."

But simple numbers don't tell the whole story about Zimmerman. With runners in scoring position, Zimmerman is hitting .294 with three home runs and 28 RBIs. He is even better with runners in scoring position with two outs, hitting .345 (10-for-29).

Digging deeper than those numbers: Stats guru and author David Vincent pointed out that Zimmerman is third among NL third basemen in OPS (.880). Scott Rolen and David Wright are ahead of him, and they will be on the NL All-Star team on July 13 in Anaheim.

"Ryan is obviously one of the team leaders in terms of offensive performance with the numbers he is putting up," said Vincent, who is also an official scorer at Nationals games. "Scott Rolen is having a crazy comeback season, but it doesn't diminish what Zimmerman is doing."

Let's not forget that Zimmerman is arguably the best defensive third baseman in the NL. He often helps his pitchers out by making diving plays and throwing runners out in sparkling plays. He won his first Gold Glove Award last year. And entering Tuesday's action, he has made only eight errors in 70 games this season.

Vincent said that Zimmerman's defense reminds him of Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson.

"This season, like each of the last few seasons, he is among the top performing National League third basemen and is definitely deserving of election to the All-Star team," Vincent said. "He seems to make a lot of the hard plays look easy around the bag. There are times when he reminds me of Brooks Robinson -- the diving stops and getting up and making the throws.

"That is my image of Brooks Robinson in the World Series games, where it seemed nothing went by him. Zimmerman goes in on a ball, he goes toward the line, he goes to his left. He seems to track down balls all the time when he is out there."

Zimmerman is looking to make his second All-Star appearance. The first came last year at Busch Stadium as the American League defeated the NL, 4-3.

Zimmerman entered the game in the fifth inning and went 0-for-2. He received his first at-bat in the bottom of the fifth against Tigers right-hander Edwin Jackson. Zimmerman took an 0-1 pitch and hit the ball to deep center field, but it was caught by Rangers center fielder Josh Hamilton.

Facing Twins closer Joe Nathan in the eighth inning, Zimmerman swung at the first pitch and flied out to Orioles right fielder Adam Jones for the second out of the inning.

Teammate Willie Harris believes Zimmerman should be an All-Star for the second straight year.

"Zim is just an all-around All-Star, regardless if he makes the All-Star team or not," Harris said. "He is an All-Star in our locker room -- he is a leader, and he's our guy. That's all [there is] to it. He's a star, even when he's not playing baseball. He's an All-Star guy."

Now in its ninth year, the 2010 All-Star Game Final Vote sponsored by Sprint gives baseball fans around the world the opportunity to select the final player on each All-Star team. Balloting began immediately following Sunday's Major League All-Star Selection Show and continues until 4 p.m. ET on Thursday. The winners will be announced on MLB.com shortly thereafter.

Mobile voting in the U.S. is exclusive to Sprint, Nextel and Boost subscribers. To receive the 2010 All-Star Game Final Vote Sponsored by Sprint mobile ballot, text the word "VOTE" to 1122. To vote for a specific player, simply text message your choice to 1122. EXAMPLE: Text "A3" to vote for AL Player 3 or "N3" to vote for NL Player 3. Messaging and data rates may apply. Mobile voting in Canada is open to all carriers; fans should text their choices to 88555. Standard rates may apply.

The fun doesn't end there, however. Fans, having already decided the starters and this week the final player on each team, once again will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevy via the 2010 All-Star Game MVP Vote sponsored by Sprint on MLB.com during the All-Star Game.

The 81st Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and Le Reseau des Sports and around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 8 p.m. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Game coverage.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.