Long-tenured teammate touts Helton's case

Long-tenured teammate touts Helton's case

Long-tenured teammate touts Helton's case
ATLANTA -- If anyone can vouch for the electability of Rockies first baseman Todd Helton in the 10th annual All-Star Game Final Vote Sponsored by Sprint, it's veteran pitcher Aaron Cook.

As of midday Monday, one day into balloting, Helton was third in a tight race, with the early leader, Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino, and Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier ahead of him. Behind Helton are Nationals left fielder Michael Morse and D-backs pitcher Ian Kennedy. The Rockies have the disadvantage of being on the road during the voting, which runs through Thursday, but the club is being active on Facebook and Twitter as they try to make sure Helton is included on the National League squad July 12 at Chase Field in Phoenix.

Cook made his Major League debut with the Rockies on Aug. 10, 2002. By that point, Helton had appeared in his third of five straight Midsummer Classics. Cook has been a teammate of Helton's longer than anyone. To see Helton rebound from injury to have a strong 2011 -- he entered Monday night's game against the Braves at Turner Field hitting .320 with nine home runs and 38 RBIs -- gives Cook another reason to marvel.

"He's the ultimate professional," Cook said. "He gives you quality at-bats day in and day out. He always puts himself in good position to hit the ball. This year, the main thing is he's healthy. You're actually seeing the results. When he gets a pitch to hit, he's not missing it.

"A lot of these younger guys are seeing it. He gets his pitch, works the count and puts the ball in play."

Balloting commenced Sunday, following the announcement of 66 All-Star starters and reserves, and it continues until 2 p.m. MT on Thursday exclusively at MLB.com, where winners will be announced shortly thereafter. There is no limit on the number of times you can vote, and updated standings will be announced daily.

Mobile voting in the U.S. and Canada is open to everyone. In the U.S., to receive the 2011 All-Star Game Final Vote Sponsored by Sprint mobile ballot, text the word "VOTE" to 89269. To vote for a specific player, simply text message your choice to 89269 (Example: Text "N2" to vote for Helton). In Canada, fans should text their choices to 65246. Standard message and data rates may apply.

Fans are doing their own grassroots work at MLB.com with the All-Star Campaign Manager program. It allows fans to tally points by getting friends, family and co-workers to vote through social networking, and competing to be recognized as an "official" Final Vote Campaign Manager for any player they helped support.

Statistically, Helton has put up a nice case for his inclusion. He leads NL first basemen in average, is fourth in slugging at .489, third in on-base percentage at .399, third in OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) at .897 and seventh in runs with 36.

Cook said it's not one spectacular play that sticks out when he thinks of Helton's work this season. It's his unshakable consistency.

"He slows the game down to his pace, doesn't let anything else outside of that moment dictate what he's trying to do," Cook said. "He goes up there with an approach in mind, sticks to it and gets the job done. Just seeing him go out there and battle every day is special. He'll take doubles, triples away from guys every day by diving down the line, then he'll get up and throw you a strike when you're covering first base.

"To see that consistently out of somebody is amazing."

Also, MLB.com and its partner JibJab, the leader in personalized entertainment, have introduced a specially created Starring You® campaign featuring each League's five Final Vote candidates in a humorous, animated video of the traditional seventh-inning stretch song, "Take Me Out to the Ballgame."

Fans can watch the candidates' Starring You videos and then cast their online votes for the 2011 All-Star Game Final Vote Sponsored by Sprint here. They then can create their own free Starring You® video where they can choose their favorite teams and insert photos of themselves, family and friends. The videos, including those featuring the 10 All-Star Game Final Vote candidates, are embeddable and can be shared via e-mail, through social network platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. For complete details, visit MLB.com/jibjab.

For the final phase of All-Star Game voting, fans will be asked to help decide the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet via the 2011 All-Star Game MVP Vote Sponsored by Sprint. That voting will take place on MLB.com during the Midsummer Classic.

The 82nd 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. ET. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Game coverage.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.