DENVER -- Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki has proven that superstar play will be noticed, no matter where it occurs.
Told at the beginning of his career that he may never even be elected to start an All-Star Game, Tulowitzki not only earned his second straight fan-voted start, but he led all National League players with a whopping 5,349,456 votes, according to totals announced by Major League Baseball on Sunday.
"It's funny, because my rookie year I remember talking to [Matt] Holliday and [Garrett] Atkins [Rockies teammates when he broke in late in 2006 and during the team's magical '07 season] and those guys saying, 'Hey, if you play for the Rockies, you'll never be high in the voting. You'll have to get the player votes or the coaches will have to pick you,'" Tulowtizki said Sunday. "I remember holding onto that thought and saying, 'One day, I want to change that about this place.'"
Not only will Tulowitzki start for the NL on July 15 at Target Field in Minneapolis, but outfielder Charlie Blackmon, who leads NL leadoff hitters in home runs with 12 and RBIs with 44 this season, was named to the NL team as a reserve. The Rockies, struggling through an injury-riddled 37-52 record that has them fourth in the NL West, could end up sending three players.
Rockies first baseman Justin Morneau was announced as a candidate for the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Experian. It would be a homecoming for Morneau, who represented the Twins for four straight years (2007-10).
Tulowitzki became the third player in Rockies history elected to multiple All-Star starts, but the other two were long ago -- outfield Larry Walker (1997-99) and first baseman Todd Helton (2001-03). But never has a Rockies player led the league in voting. Tulowitzki was the voting frontrunner from the first voting update.
The Rockies' market size and lack of success makes Tulowitzki's vote total surprising, but manager Walt Weiss said based on merit, there was no surprise.
"I'm not too surprised," Weiss said. "He's put together such a monster first half that everybody from around the country has taken notice."
Blackmon grabbed the baseball world's attention with a sizzling start. He went 6-for-6 against the D-backs on April 14, and through April 27 had a .402 batting average. The tailoff was inevitable, and Blackmon finished Sunday at .291, but he has produced from a power standpoint.
Going into Sunday he had a .466 leadoff slugging percentage, which was fourth-highest in the NL among hitters from that spot. However, Blackmon had 313 leadoff at-bats. No one ahead of him had more than 168.
The strong numbers and All-Star invitation amount to heady stuff for a player who struggled in Spring Training and even had doubts if he'd make the team, although Weiss saw him as the leadoff man all along.
"I was thinking about that today," Blackmon said. "This is the first time I've made the team out of camp. Even at that, I was on the bubble the whole time. Just a few months down the road, I could have just as easily not made the team. And here we are talking about the All-Star Game. It's just a blessing."
Weiss is proud of how far Blackmon has come. Foot injuries shortened Blackmon's Major League participation in 2011 and '12, and an infection in his knee delayed his rise to the Majors last season. His 87 Major League games this year represent a career high.
"That's what makes it so special," Weiss said. "He's had to fight through some things and earn his way not only onto the field but the starting lineup. He's made the most of it."
Troy Tulowitzki, SS
Prior ASGs: 2009, 2011-13
ASG W-L: 2-1
ASG Stats: 1-for-4
How he made 2014 NL team: Elected by fans.
Why he's an All-Star: By staying healthy this year, Tulowitzki has proven he is simply the game's best two-way shortstop. He not only leads the Majors in batting, on-base percentage, on-base percentage plus slugging percentage (OPS) and runs, but he tops NL shortstops in range factor and fielding percentage.
DYK?: It'll be nice for Tulowitzki to play in the All-Star Game at Target Field. His first All-Star invitation was 2010, but he couldn't play because of a fractured wrist that he suffered when hit by a pitch on June 17 -- in a game against the Twins at Target Field.
Quotable: "You don't get to see the way he prepares. His desire to win comes through somewhat on the field, but I get to see it from the time he shows up. He's as driven as anybody I've been around in the game." -- Rockies manager Walt Weiss
Charlie Blackmon, OF
Prior ASGs: None
ASG W-L: 0-0
ASG Stats: None
How he made 2014 NL team: Player voting.
Why He's an All-Star: Injuries limited Blackmon's Major League time the last three years, but last year he performed well in 82 games. This year, Blackmon settled a leadoff hole that opened with Dexter Fowler was traded to the Astros during the offseason, and has hit put up strong offensive numbers -- especially at Coors Field.
DYK?: He was the 100th MLB player since 1914 with six-plus hits in game.
Quotable: "I can't say I expected it. He certainly showed flashes of it last year, the last part of the year when he was getting consistent playing time. We knew the power was in there." -- Weiss.
Immediately following the announcement of the American League and NL All-Star rosters on Sunday, fans began 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 can cast their votes from a list of five players from each league until the winners are announced after the voting concludes on Thursday at 2 p.m. MT.
The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again have fans help choose 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 and via Twitter in the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote Sponsored by Pepsi, and their collective voice will represent 20 percent of the overall vote that determines the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
MLB.TV Premium subscribers, for the first time, will be able to live stream the All-Star Game via MLB.TV through FOX's participating video providers. Access will be available across more than 400 platforms that support MLB.TV, including the award-winning MLB.com At Bat app. 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.