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MLB All-Star Game 2016 Voting: 1st Update for AL, NL Starters Released

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist

Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz tips his hat to fans during a pre game ceremony before a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Tuesday, May 17, 2016. Ortiz is on his retirement tour. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
Orlin Wagner/Associated Press

Major League Baseball on Tuesday provided the first voting update for the 2016 All-Star Game on July 12 with a look at the American League leaders. Results for the National League were released Wednesday.

Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels, Manny Machado of the Baltimore Orioles and longtime Boston Red Sox star David Ortizโ€”in his final season before retirementโ€”headline the current AL starters, according to MLB:

MLB @MLB

AL @esurance #ASG ballot update: 1B Hosmer 2B Altuve SS Bogaerts 3B Machado C Salvy OF Trout, Cain, Trumbo DH Papi https://t.co/QxsRNRuvlV

MLB Communications passed along a complete look at the early returns for the AL:

MLB Communications @MLB_PR

Royals catcher Salvador Perez leads the AL in fan balloting for the 2016 MLB All-Star Game presented by MasterCard. https://t.co/lpjHfWsvfH

Wednesday, the NL returns were made available:

MLB Communications @MLB_PR

Cubs 1B Anthony Rizzo paces the NL in fan balloting for the 2016 MLB All-Star Game presented by MasterCard. https://t.co/hIgb4KMwAn

The Royals' voting dominance is nothing new. Last season, their fanbase helped secure spots in the starting lineup for Alex Gordon (who missed the game because of injury), Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar and Salvador Perez. They are on pace for a similar result in 2016.

Shortstop is the most competitive position, with less than 6,000 votes separating Escobar from front-runner Xander Bogaerts of Boston. The outfield spots behind Trout are also up for grabs, with about 107,000 votes separating second (Cain) from sixth place (Gordon).

Ortiz isn't yet a lock for the starting lineup, though it would take quite an effort from the Royals faithful to get Kendrys Morales to overcome a deficit of more than 466,000 votes. Even if that happened, however, the Red Sox designated hitter would surely get in as a reserve based on his numbers.

The slugger is off to an outstanding start with a .337 average and 14 homers in 45 games. He announced in November on the Players' Tribune he will retire after the 2016 season. His MVP-level performance has raised questions about that decision, but Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald believes it is final and recently provided comments from the 40-year-old veteran about the situation.

"As the times go by, it just gets harder and harder and harder, man," Ortiz said. "This is just something where you get to the point where you feel like you can't do it any more."

If Ortiz's stance remains firm for another month, the All-Star Game will become a celebration of his careerโ€”similar to how Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant was honored at the NBA All-Star Game in Februaryโ€”providing a chance for rival fans to give him a respectful send-off despite all the damage he's likely done against their teams over the years.

In the National League, Chicago Cubs fans produced a Royals-like effort that has players from Wrigley Field atop four of the six listed positions on the returns.

Not only are Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, Kris Bryant and Addison Russell leading the way at first base, second base, third base and shortstop, respectively, but Dexter Fowler is currently sandwiched between reigning NL MVP Bryce Harper and New York Mets slugger Yoenis Cespedes as a projected starter in the outfield.

However, the Cubs may not have a monopoly on infield positions for long. Russell is a meager 20,000 votes ahead of Colorado Rockies rookie phenom Trevor Story, and he's batting just .246 with 49 strikeouts to date. If he continues to struggle at the plate, his starting spot figures to be in jeopardy.

And with voting just heating up, there's plenty of time for things to change before the festivities get underway at the San Diego Padres' Petco Park.

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