And you thought the big elections were over in November. No, if you are one of the fanatical members of the baseball party, you know that this week is the last chance to let your voice be heard and to get another deserving candidate on the baselines for their introduction during the 2009 All Star game in St. Louis ,Missouri. And with the success of Evan Longoria getting voted into the 2008 All Star game on the Final Vote, the Rays are putting all their eggs in a basket to again get another deserving member of the Rays into the 2009 classic.
Do you know if Carlos Pena doesn’t get voted into the All Star game it will be the first time in a long time that the American League Home Run Leader is not in attendance at the big event since 1993 when the Tigers Mickey Tettleton missed the classic. Furthermore, with Longoria not being so keen on the State Farm Home Run Derby this year, maybe Carlos can take his spot and drill the rightfield stands with a few balls. If you have never watched Pena hit home runs during Batting Practice or even during a game, you have missed a great display of pure power and thrusting through the ball to get it over the outfield wall.
To see this guy lean back and get a hold of a pitch is a sight to behold. Truly, it is something magical to watch that ball sail out of the yard and into the hands of a fan in the rightfield stands. And you know how they love to see homers in St. Louis! But Pena is up against a few really credible stars of their own in this All Star Game Sprint Final Vote. There are a few people also on the ballot that have been mentioned as “sure things”, or their team representatives with the fan vote, but they might have lost a bit of favor in the players voting and are relegated to the Final Vote now.
Guys like Ian Kinsler of Texas, Chone Figgins of the Angels, Brandon Inge of the Tigers and Adam Lind of the Blue Jays along with Pena will be seeking your vote between today and Thursday at 4 pm. After that time, MLB will announce the winner. And with that last vote goes the honor of lining up with the rest of the best of the American League for the All Star game. But why do I think Pena is the man for the mission. Why on earth do I think he can overcome the other four guys and be the man selected to the All Star game?
Well, simply he is the current AL Home Run leader with 23 dingers this season. What is also truly amazing is that ex-Ray Russell Branyan, who is now bashing them with Seattle is second with 21 home runs. Pena is also currently ninth in RBI with 55, and he is seventh in the AL in runs with 58 right now. Those two statistics by themselves show that Pena has been an offensive force for the Rays in 2009. His batting average might not be pretty (.231), but his OPS of .898 shows he has the ability and the consistent nature to get on base and make thing happen for the Rays.
He is also only one walk behind current AL leader Marc Scutaro of Toronto (56) for the lead in that category too He is also sitting in the third spot in Intentional Base on Balls this season with seven trips to first base. His offensive numbers have been consistent the last few seasons in the power categories having been near the top in homers and walks the last two years in the AL. In 2008, Pena blasted 31 homers and drove in 102 RBI to help the Rays to their first winning season and their drive to the 2008 World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies. In 2007, Pena hit 46 homers with 121 RBI to establish new Rays marks in both categories.
But even if you are still not convinced on his offensive number, the fact he is in the top tier of A L first basemen with his defense should be his trump card. Pena might be having a down year for him, but he is still one of the best defensive players on the right side of the infield. His dives and saving of extra base hits during the season are only the tip of the iceberg for this vacuum cleaner at first. His plays at first, along with his newly shined Golden Glove won during the 2008 season shows that he has the right stuff to man the position and be the best option.
But besides that, Pena is the kind of guy you want to see in the All Star game. He is very humble and very proud of is teammates and what they have accomplished in the last 12 months. He is the model of a team leader and clubhouse guy you want for your squad. And he shares that love of the game with the community all the time. Be it advertising for the Boy and Girls Club, or making special appearances for the team at local hospitals, you can always count on Pena to be one of the first to volunteer.
Let also add the interesting note that if Pena is selected to the All Star team, the Rays will be only the fourth team since 1969 to put their entire starting infield on the field at some point in the All Star game. The last to do it was the 2002 New York Yankees. But that might be one of the bad things about having the year the Rays and Pena had in 2008. Too many great things happen while no one on the team had an outstanding or career year in 2008. The team concept and the bonding of that unit played a huge role in them winning the A L East crown, not blasting the ball every night and taking what the defense gave them in games.
But some things might be working against Pena to even be considered for the spot. He is surly deserving of the honor, but with the success of the Rays and four member all ready on the AL roster, people might consider it overloading the squad with Rays if they select Pena. This is actually pretty petty if that is the reasoning for not selecting him to the All Star game. The game symbolizes the best players at their positions showing their stuff during and exhibition game at the mid point of the season. It is not like there is a multitude of bonus money being thrown around for any of the Rays players that make the rosters.
But it is also a unique situation for Pena considering that he has won the 2007 Silver Slugger award for first base, which goes to the best hitting first baseman in the American League, plus got received the 2008 Golden Glove for the position. This shows that the MLB players, media and even the fans do recognize his efforts and abilities to get this team to the next level. It only seems fair and right to let him take that next step and become recognized as an All Star for the Rays. If you need a few more statistics to peak your interest in voting for Pena, he is also leading the AL in home runs per at-bat with a 12.48 mark this season. From 2007-2009, he is ranked fifth with 100 home runs among all hitters in the major leagues.
And let’s not forget he did finish tenth in the Most Valuable Player voting for the American League last season. Pena is everything you want in a player for your team. He has a great bat and the ability to help motivate and transforms your baseball team into a winner. He always has a positive attitude and a glowing smile on his face when he talks about this team. He recognizes and gives praise the fanbase, his teammates even before he talks about himself. He is truly the kind of player you want to see smile and wave to the crowd on the baselines of the All-star game………..Will you be helping Carlos in his journey?
The Tampa Bay Rays have also stepped up their community and in-stadium efforts to try and drawn in more votes for Pena during the Final Vote this week. Beginning with today;s game against the Toronto Blue Jays, the Rays will launch the “Vote ‘Los” campaign. This will include:
So come on people the time is now, and the clock is ticking. It is time for us to show our support and pride in one of our own again and start voting online or with your cellphone for Carlos Pena for the 33rd spot on the All-Star roster. We only have until 4 pm EST on Thursday to make out voices carry loud and clear. Unlike the All Star voting, which limited you to 25 total votes online per Email address, you can vote a million times if needed to get Pena selected to the All Star team.
So remember to vote often and frequently over the next few days to get one of our own on the roster of the American League All Stars. So why are you still here reading this blog? Come on now, you know the drill by now, go to either www.MLB.com or www.Raysbaseball.com to submit your votes to show support for “El Presidente” also known as Carlos Pena for the All Star game.