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OC Register: Alexander: Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons needs more fans to #VoteSimba


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ANAHEIM — Maybe Andrelton Simmons needs a more cutthroat campaign manager.

The Angels shortstop is having a wonderful season, one good enough to get him into the five-man All-Star Final Vote, which closes Wednesday at 1 p.m. PT. Simmons’ misfortune is that he plays a position that, at least in the American League, is exceeded in its importance by its sheer glut of talent.

Baltimore’s (for now) Manny Machado and Cleveland’s Francisco Lindor made the AL’s initial roster. Seattle’s Jean Segura, who also qualified for the Final Vote, is fourth in the league in hitting. The Astros’ Carlos Correa should probably be in that elite conversation as well, but he has been sidelined with back stiffness.

As for that Final Vote? Simmons, eighth in the AL in hitting and first in the majors in strikeout rate (one every 21.93 plate appearances) going into Tuesday night’s game with Seattle, has some serious catching up to do. Segura led the AL voting as of Tuesday afternoon, followed by Boston’s Andrew Benintendi, the Yankees’ Giancarlo Stanton, the Twins’ Eddie Rosario and Simmons.

For what it’s worth, the Mariners were wearing “SendSegura” T-shirts as they boarded their plane to SoCal, and their organization is waging a spirited campaign. The Red Sox social media team posted pictures of Benintendi on their team plane taking a nap beneath the hashtag “#VoteBenny.”

Yankees players taped funny videos talking up Stanton’s campaign, while their organization teamed up with the Dodgers, with the Yanks’ also promoting Max Muncy and the Dodgers pumping up Stanton.

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(Hold it: Why didn’t the Dodgers and Angels combine their voting blocs? For the Dodgers to go in with the Yankees feels like the Lakers and Celtics collaborating. There’s too much history there, and it just doesn’t feel right.)

Such combined efforts are becoming more popular. The Dodgers and Royals got both Justin Turner and Mike Moustakas elected last year, with both teams promoting both third basemen.

This year, the Twins, with Rosario, and the Brewers, with first baseman (and NL home run leader) Jesus Aguilar, have joined forces. The Angels have done likewise with the Nationals, the host of next Tuesday’s All-Star Game, who are trying to get their shortstop, Trea Turner, on the roster.

Beyond that? The Angels gave away autographed baseballs, bobbleheads and even game tickets on Twitter to those who could post a screenshot showing they voted for Simmons and Turner. They painted “VOTE SIMBA” on the mound before Sunday night’s ESPN game against the Dodgers, which represented a 2-1/2-hour campaign infomercial (it was a quick game).

Mike Trout and Tyler Skaggs stumped for Simmons on their Twitter pages. And the Angels posted a 10-second clip from Shohei Ohtani, endorsing Simmons in Japanese. (Maybe the Asian returns will be coming in late.)

But where’s the campaign ad featuring splashy video of Simmons’ defensive highlights and offensive outbursts? Or does this call, instead, for negative ads aimed at the other guys?

“Yeah,” Simmons said with a laugh, trying out a line: “‘They eat past their bedtime. They shouldn’t go.’”

On second thought, I don’t think Simba will be going negative.

“Whatever the fans want to see most, that’s who they vote for,” he said. “It’s their decision, so I respect that. I mean, it’s a show for the people.

“Maybe I should try campaigning hard myself, but it’s hard for me. But I know I have a lot of people pulling forme, a lot of people trying to help me out. Everybody’s telling me they’re voting for me, which is reallyreally cool.

“I wasn’t playing (to make) the All-Star Game. But at the end when you see you’re up there with a few other candidates, it’s pretty special. That means you did pretty good work so far.”

The acknowledgment that he’s an elite shortstop beyond the ranks of those who see him every day might be satisfaction enough. It might have to be.

“If I thought it was that important for Simba, where his ego was going to be so bruised if he wasn’t selected to the All-Star game, I think I’d have a more passionate speech,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said when asked how he’d stump for his shortstop. “But that’s the beauty of Simba. You know he wants to play, he wants to win. He’s not going to be affected if he’s slighted. … He’s playing at an incredible level. So you know there’s no speeches really necessary. I think his play speaks for itself.”

Ah, well, maybe the people in Atlanta, who got Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis into the NL’s starting lineup, will do a solid for a former Brave between now and the time voting ends.

“If there’s Braves fans out there that still want to see me in the All-Star Game, feel free to vote,” he said.

He’s Andrelton Simmons, and I’m guessing he will approve this message.

jalexander@scng.com

@Jim_Alexander on Twitter

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