As voting for the All-Star Game reached the home stretch, it's clear that fans have given the Chicago Cubs quite a bit of respect.
The Cubs are hoping that the 2016 season will see them gain their first spot in the World Series since 1945 and their first championship since 1908, and the team's tremendous first half of the season is reflected in the All-Star voting.
All four of the infield spots in the National League belong to the Cubs. Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, Addison Russell and Kris Bryant are all leading at their respective positions, according to MLB Communications.
Zobrist, Russell and Bryant are all leading at their positions by more than 300,000 votes each and appear to be in good position to hold on to their respective leads, while Rizzo has a lead of nearly 1.4 million votes over Brandon Belt of the San Francisco Giants at first base.
A good case can be made that three of the Cubs infielders deserve their good fortunes with the voters, while Russell's position appears to be the result of excess Cubby love.
He is hitting .235 with seven home runs and 40 RBI this season and a 1.5 WAR (wins above replacement), according to Baseball-Reference.com, while rookie Trevor Story of the Colorado Rockies has a .267 average along with 19 home runs and 50 RBI and a 2.0 WAR.
Story has 104 strikeouts on his ledger, and that may be distasteful to many of the voters. Corey Seager of the Dodgers is performing at an All-Star level with a .297 average, 16 home runs and 38 RBI and a 3.0 WAR.
The other viable National League shortstop candidate is Brandon Crawford of the San Francisco Giants, who is hitting .268 with six home runs and 49 RBI and a 2.5 WAR. Crawford is also having a remarkable season on the defensive side with just four errors despite handling the ball more than 300 times.
Dexter Fowler of the Cubs, Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals and Yoenis Cespedes of the New York Mets are leading the National League outfielders, while veteran Yadier Molina of the St. Louis Cardinals and Buster Posey of the Giants are engaged in a taut battle behind the plate. Going into the final voting period, Molina leads by about 5,000 votes.
|2016 All-Star Game Voting|
|C||Salvador Perez||Kansas City Royals||Perez|
|1B||Eric Hosmer||Kansas City Royals||Hosmer|
|2B||Jose Altuve||Houston Astros||Altuve|
|3B||Manny Machado||Baltimore Orioles||Machado|
|SS||Xander Bogaerts||Boston Red Sox||Bogaerts|
|OF||Mike Trout||Los Angeles Angels||Trout|
|OF||Jackie Bradley Jr.||Boston Red Sox||Bradley|
|OF||Mookie Betts||Boston Red Sox||Betts|
|DH||David Ortiz||Boston Red Sox||Ortiz|
|C||Yadier Molina||St. Louis Cardinals||Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants|
|1B||Anthony Rizzo||Chicago Cubs||Rizzo|
|2B||Ben Zobrist||Chicago Cubs||Zobrist|
|3B||Kris Bryant||Chicago Cubs||Bryant|
|SS||Addison Russell||Chicago Cubs||Russell|
|OF||Dexter Fowler||Chicago Cubs||Fowler|
|OF||Bryce Harper||Washington Nationals||Harper|
|OF||Yoenis Cespedes||New York Mets||Cespedes|
On the American League side, first baseman Eric Hosmer of the Kansas City Royals, second baseman Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros, shortstop Xander Bogaerts of the Boston Red Sox and third baseman Manny Machado of the Baltimore Orioles all have substantial leads at their respective positions.
While Machado is having an excellent season with a .330 average, 18 homers, 46 RBI and a 3.9 WAR, he is playing shortstop for the first-place Orioles and not third base, as he has done in the past. Josh Donaldson of the Toronto Blue Jays has been hammering the ball with a .290 average, 17 homers and 51 RBI, and he has a substantial 4.1 WAR rating.
Two-time All-Star MVP Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels leads the way among the American League outfielders, with Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. of the Boston Red Sox holding down the other two spots.
However, that's a close race as Lorenzo Cain of the Royals, Mark Trumbo of the Orioles and Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays are all within striking distance.
Salvador Perez has more than 3.75 million votes and is running away with the AL catching honors, and David Ortiz of the Red Sox is leading the way at the designated hitter spot.
While all three American League outfielders have legitimate credentials, it's hard not to like the job that Ian Desmond has done for the Texas Rangers so far this season. Desmond is hitting .326 with 14 home runs and 51 RBI, and he has a 3.4 WAR for the surging Rangers.
However, Desmond has slightly more than 1.1 million votes, and that leaves him in eighth place among outfielders, and he will have to depend on being named to the team rather than voted in.
Final All-Star voting results will be announced July 5 at 7 p.m. ET.
Look for all the current leaders in the American League to hold on to their positions. Cain has a chance to overcome Betts in the outfield, but the Red Sox outfielder has 16 home runs and 54 RBI, while Cain has eight homers and 39 RBI. That should be enough to help Betts retain his position.
The National League catching position may be decided by 1,000 votes or fewer. While both Molina and Posey have had substantial careers and are deserving from a long-term perspective, Posey has eight homers and 36 RBI, while Molina has just one home run and 26 RBI. Posey deserves to get the majority of the votes before voting closes June 30.
Neither of those players compares to Wilson Ramos of the Washington Nationals from an offensive perspective. Ramos has belted 12 home runs and driven in 43 runs along with a .343 average. However, Ramos is more than 280,000 votes behind Posey, and he is not going to make up that ground.
All WAR ratings provided by Baseball-Reference.com.