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Tampa Bay Rays Send Four All Stars To St. Louis; Longoria Voted #1 in Home Run Derby

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Despite the snub of J.P. Howell a.k.a the Iceman, the Rays will send four all-stars to the mid summer classic for the first time in the franchise's history. They stand a chance to send a fifth in Carlos Pena, who is a finalist for the final spot in the American League. Remember just a year ago, Evan Longoria made the team via the final vote.

Longoria won't have to wait for the final vote this year. The 23 year-old was the leading vote getter at third base and will be the first Rays player to start an all star game. He is the AL leader OPS among third basemen and remains one of the top defenders at the hot corner. Longoria also finished first in the fan voting for the home run derby. It is not known if he will participate in the event. He did compete in the 2008 home run derby finishing in last place with three home runs.

Joining Longoria in St. Louis will be a pair of first timers. Last year's team MVP, Jason Bartlett was selected to his first all star team as well as former super sub turned Zorilla, Ben Zobrist. Bartlett is enjoying a career year at the plate hitting .362/.402/.567 with a career high eight home runs. His .362 average is second to Ichiro Suzuki, however Bartlett is about 10 plate appearances short of qualifying for leaders boards thanks to his DL stint.

DRaysBay has covered Ben Zobrist probably more than any other player on the team and deservedly so. After showing power potential in 2008, Zobrist has literally exploded in 2009. His 1.015 OPS is tops in the AL as is his .323 ISO. Hitting .286/.406/.609, he is tied with Longoria for second on the team with 16 home runs. Besides home runs, Zobrist has set career highs in doubles, triples, runs scored and RBI. While his offense has grabbed the headlines, Zobrist has excelled at his new home of second base. His 7.0 UZR (min. 250 innings) at second base is the best in the big leagues.

Rounding out the Rays quartet is the old man, Carl Crawford. At age 27, CC will make his third all star appearance. Crawford struggled in the early portion of the season, but has rebounded nicely. In his seventh full season, he is hitting .318/.374/.459. His batting average and OPS would be career highs. Recently, Crawford has shown more power at the plate and his could possibly top his career high of 18 home runs if he continues to swing the big stick.

I admit I am very disappointed that J.P. Howell didn't make the team. Howell has been the glue that has held the Rays bullpen together and he deserves a spot. Each year players skip the all star game or unable to participate, and with Joe Maddon as the manager, maybe he will reward Howell with one of those spots. If not, you still have to be proud of the four guys who made the team. As R.J. pointed out, you'd be hard pressed to find a better group of players on one team in the AL.

AL WAR Leaders Min. 240 PA

WAR

Ben Zobrist

4.2

Joe Mauer

4.0

Evan Longoria

3.8

 Jason Bartlett

3.4

 Carl Crawford

3.2

The time is NOW to vote Carlos Pena in as the 5th member of the Rays on the squad.