MLB All-Star Game voting for the 2012 season is well underway. There are plenty of early-season players who are worthy of selection, but ultimately only a select few will get the honor of being an All-Star Game selection.
With the fans' votes and manager selections combined, there are six Cincinnati Reds players who should end up on the NL roster.
Some of the six are familiar faces while others will be making their first All-Star team.
It's time to meet these six players and highlight their early season accomplishments.
Among all Cincinnati Reds position players, Jay Bruce is the most deserving of an All-Star selection.
Through 28 games played, Bruce is hitting .295/.336/.631 with 10 HR, 26 RBI, 20 runs scored and three steals.
Bruce is tied for second in the NL in home runs, just two back of Matt Kemp, and his 23 RBI are good for seventh in the NL, just seven behind Kemp.
Among NL outfielders Bruce is tied for third in home runs and doubles, fifth in RBI and fourth in slugging percentage and OPS.
His defense is Gold Glove caliber, and he's showing the league why he's been touted as one of the best up-and-coming outfielders in the game for several years now.
Look for Bruce to receive his second straight All-Star selection.
Joey Votto's batting average and home runs certainly aren't barreling anybody over, but the rest of his numbers are brilliant in 2012.
Votto has played in all of Cincinnati's 30 games and is batting .291/.439/.495 with 2 HR, 15 doubles, 18 RBI and 16 runs.
Votto is currently leading MLB in doubles and walks and is second in OBP and fifth in OPS.
Among qualifying National League first basemen, Votto ranks third in hits (36), first in doubles (16), second in RBI (24), second in runs (21), third in batting average (.319), first in OBP (.466), fourth in SLG (.593) and second in OPS (1.059).
Votto's average has been steadily climbing for the last few weeks, and he now sits above .300, where he should remain for the rest of the season.
With increased production from the top-two spots in the lineup and Phillips being fully recovered from his hamstring injury, Votto will undoubtedly drive in more runs. His power output had been suspect until last night when Votto belted three home runs, including a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the ninth inning against Washington.
With Votto's power game coming along, he'll make a strong case for another MVP award this season.
Joey Votto will make his third straight NL All-Star team in 2012.
Aroldis Chapman is the most dominating middle relief pitcher in all of baseball. Whether he should or shouldn't be a starter or closer isn't the issue here. When middle relievers are selected, Chapman will undoubtedly be one.
Through 13 appearances and 17.2 innings pitched, Chapman is 3-0 and has yet to allow a single run (earned or unearned). He's allowed just six hits and four walks in comparison to 31 strikeouts.
Chapman's ratios are off the charts. His K/BB ratio is 7.75, K/9 is 15.79, batting average against is just .109, OBP against is .172 and SLG against is a paltry .136. Chapman has inherited five base runners this season and hasn't let a single one score.
The most telling of all Chapman's incredible statistics is his strikeout rate. Chapman has faced 64 batters this year and recorded 31 strikeouts. In other words, Chapman has struck out an astounding 48 percent of batters faced.
If Chapman should continue to work out of the bullpen in a middle relief role, he will certainly make his first All-Star Game appearance.
Johnny Cueto is arguably the most under-the-radar pitcher in all of Major League Baseball. Want proof? Check out my article from last month right here.
Through his first seven starts, Cueto has been nearly untouchable. In 48.1 innings, Cueto has posted a 1.12 ERA and a .97 WHIP. His ERA is second in all of baseball, and his WHIP has him one percentage point short of 10th in the bigs.
Detractors will point to his low BABIP (.257) and low K/9 (5.8) rates as reason to believe his production rate is unsustainable. But they've been saying that since last year, and Cueto hasn't slowed yet.
Whatever the case is, Cueto is pitching at an elite level, and at the moment, it's hard to argue that anybody in baseball is better. His WAR sits at 2.31 and is first among qualifying NL pitchers.
Johnny will make his first All-Star Game appearance this season.
Aroldis Chapman steals all the glory in the Reds bullpen, but Logan Ondrusek is quietly putting together a fantastic season.
In 16 appearances Ondrusek has pitched 14.2 innings with a 0.00 ERA, .886 WHIP and 11 strikeouts. Although he isn't as flashy as Chapman and his triple-digit fastball, he's highly efficient.
Ondrusek has allowed just 14 baserunners (7 hits, 6 walks, 1 intentional walk). Like Johnny Cueto, Ondrusek doesn't strike batters out at a high rate (6.8 K/9), but that doesn't matter. What matters is that he isn't allowing runs.
Ondrusek has a very impressive slash line against to complement his basic pitching statistics. Opposing batters are hitting .143/.236/.143 against him. Notice the equal batting average and slugging percentage? That's because Ondrusek has yet to allow an extra base hit.
In nine of his 16 appearances, Ondrusek has come into the game with runners on base. Only one of his inherited baserunners has scored thus far.
Ondrusek is pitching in high-pressure situations. His Average Leverage Index (measure of high-pressure situations) is 2.093—1.00 is considered a high-pressure situation, and Ondrusek's ALI is twice that.
The bottom line is that Ondrusek is dominating when he comes on in relief. Among pitchers with at least 10 innings pitched, there are three in the National League with ERAs of zero. One is Sergio Romo, and the other two are Ondrusek and Aroldis Chapman.
Ondrusek will make his first All-Star Game appearance in 2012.
Brandon Phillips may not be playing at an All-Star level at this moment, but I'd be willing to bet that he'll be on the NL All-Star team come July.
Phillips is a fan favorite. He's active on Twitter and popular around baseball. While I'm not an advocate of the All-Star game being a popularity contest, it does play an important role in All-Star selections.
Phillips is batting .245/.283/.349 with two HR, 11 RBI, 13 runs and one steal.
It's safe to say that if the ballots closed today, Phillips would be left off the team. However, Phillips has just recently returned from a hamstring injury that hindered both his hitting ability and base-running.
As I write this article, Phillips is 1-4 with an RBI and a run scored, pushing his average to .252 with 12 RBI and 14 runs scored.
That batting average puts him at eighth on the NL's leaderboard for second basemen. His RBI totals are good for seventh and his run totals for eighth.
Phillips is an elite second baseman, and the effects of his hamstring injury were quite noticeable. He has recently been given the green light to steal and will take full advantage of it.
By the All-Star break, Phillips will be at the level we are accustomed to seeing from him, and he will have earned himself his third straight All-Star Game selection.