CLEVELAND -- As June draws to a close, outfielder Michael Brantley has maintained his relentless first-half production for the Indians. He's held steady in the All-Star polls as a result.
As of Monday's American League All-Star ballot update -- the last before rosters are announced on the Taco Bell All-Star Selection Show on Sunday at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN -- Brantley again ranked sixth among outfielders with 1,630,452 votes as Cleveland's sole representative on the leaderboards. The position remains headlined by overall voting leader Jose Bautista (4,460,245) of the Blue Jays and Mike Trout (4,085,647) of the Angels.
Brantley, now in his fifth year with the Tribe, finds himself in the midst of a breakout campaign that has seen him post a .318/.386/.510 line with 54 runs scored, 53 RBIs and a career-high 12 homers through 77 games. He owns the best batting average, the fourth-best OPS (.896) and the fifth-most doubles (19) among qualified AL outfielders this season.
Brantley experienced a small setback earlier this month when he was forced to miss time because of a mild concussion. Even with the injury, he is a remarkable 31-for-88 (.352) with seven doubles, three homers and nine walks in June.
"It's nice, because his presence alone helps," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "But the fact that he swings the bat [is even better]. And some of it is his mechanics are so simplified that he probably has a better chance than most to not skip a beat."
Brantley's stellar defense has also been a boon to the Indians, who lead the Majors with 70 errors this year. Entering Monday, Brantley was tied for the second-most outfield assists in the Majors with nine, trailing only Oakland's Yoenis Cespedes (10).
"He's solid. That's a big part of what he does," Francona said of Brantley's defense. "I think because his offense has been so good, it's allowed me to maybe talk about him more and point out some of those things. I think he understands that when he leaves the batter's box, he can still influence the game. That's very important."
Brantley would be making his first career trip to the Midsummer Classic were he to earn a selection.
Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- online or on a mobile device -- using the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian until Thursday at 11:59 p.m. ET. The 2014 All-Star Game will be played at Target Field on Tuesday, July 15.
Fans may submit up to 25 online ballots, but they can also earn a one-time bonus of 10 additional online ballots. To access these additional online ballots, you must be logged into your MLB.com account when you submit any online ballot. If you do not have an MLB.com account, register on the site in accordance with the enrollment instructions for a free MLB.com account.
Fans this year once again can participate in the Home Run Derby Fan Poll. Fans will have the opportunity to select three players in each league who they would most like to see participate in the Gillette Home Run Derby. The 2014 Home Run Derby will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN HD, ESPN Deportes and ESPN Radio in the United States beginning at 8 p.m. ET on Monday, July 14.
The 2014 American League and National League All-Star teams will be unveiled on the Taco Bell All-Star Selection Show on Sunday, beginning at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN, with further details to follow on MLB.com. Immediately following the announcement of the AL and NL All-Star rosters, fans can begin voting to select the final player for each league's 34-man roster via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Experian. Fans will cast their votes from a list of five players from each league over the balloting period.
And the voting doesn't end there. The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again have fans participating in the voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote Sponsored by Pepsi, and their voice will represent 20 percent of the overall vote that determines the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.
The 85th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.
Alec Shirkey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less