Although fans sometimes make strange choices for MLB All-Star Game starters, the decisions to this point will create plenty of drama leading up to the final announcement.
Voting for the July 12 game closed at 11:59 p.m. ET on Thursday, so hopefully you were able to fill out as many ballots with your favorite players as possible before the cutoff.
Some players, such as the Boston Red Sox's David Ortiz and the Los Angeles Angels' Mike Trout, had a virtually insurmountable lead, and it didn't matter what happened in the final days of voting. However, other races will likely go down to the last moment, and officials will make sure they have every ballot counted before revealing the results.
The lineups will be announced at 7 p.m. ET on Tuesday on ESPN, and until that point, we won't know the official voting results. However, here is a look at the most recent release, courtesy of MLB Communications, along with the biggest storylines to follow in the coming days.
|American League Voting (as of Monday)|
|4||Justin Smoak||Blue Jays||772,948|
|5||Hanley Ramirez||Red Sox||769,385|
|3||Dustin Pedroia||Red Sox||1,081,667|
|5||Ryan Goins||Blue Jays||757,923|
|2||Josh Donaldson||Blue Jays||1,590,183|
|1||Xander Bogaerts||Red Sox||2,825,025|
|3||Troy Tulowitzki||Blue Jays||1,136,479|
|1||David Ortiz||Red Sox||3,400,200|
|2||Edwin Encarnacion||Blue Jays||1,131,827|
|3||Russell Martin||Blue Jays||981,618|
|2||Jackie Bradley Jr.||Red Sox||2,184,884|
|3||Mookie Betts||Red Sox||1,915,637|
|6||Jose Bautista||Blue Jays||1,707,134|
|Source: MLB Communications|
|National League Voting (as of Monday)|
|Source: MLB Communications|
The Chicago Cubs have the best record in baseball, and fans are finally starting to believe this could be the team that wins a World Series. That excitement has carried over into the voting, with five different Cubs players leading their respective positions.
Only the catcher position doesn't feature a Chicago representative in the lead, although Miguel Montero does rank fourth despite batting under .200 for the year.
According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, this type of lineup would be something unseen in the last 50 years:
Do all these players deserve a starting spot? Of course not.
There won't be too much complaint about first baseman Anthony Rizzo or third baseman Kris Bryant, who have both put together excellent seasons to this point. Ben Zobrist has been solid as well at second base, but it's hard to argue he has been better than the Washington Nationals' Daniel Murphy, the player leading the league in batting average (.352) at the time of writing. Outfielder Dexter Fowler has also been good, though nothing special compared to the rest of the competition.
As for Addison Russell, there might be at least five better options to start at shortstop for the National League, beginning with the Los Angeles Dodgers' Corey Seager.
When you let the fans decide, however, these types of results are always possible. Considering how good the Cubs have been, other teams can't complain all that much.
NL Catcher Battle
Just like the case with Russell, the candidate leading at the latest update is clearly not the best option.
The St. Louis Cardinals' Yadier Molina is a future Hall of Fame catcher, but this hasn't been his best season. In fact, he doesn't even rank among the top 10 in wins above replacement among NL catchers, according to Fangraphs.
Leading in this category is the San Francisco Giants' Buster Posey, who is neck and neck in the voting with Molina. Baseball Tonight explained why this shouldn't even be a close race:
Fortunately for logic's sake, Posey reportedly pulled ahead in the final few days of voting, according to Chris Haft of MLB.com. With a little more than one day remaining, he led by 107,000 votes.
Based on his solid first half of the season, Posey will likely be named to the fourth All-Star Game of his career even if he doesn't win the vote. The same can't be said about Molina, with his lack of power and his worst batting average (.261) since 2010.
Considering the St. Louis Cardinals backstop has been a part of the Midsummer Classic for the last seven years, true baseball fans might not mind too much if Molina does find his way in as a starter.
Filling Out AL Outfield
Trout has put together another incredible start to the season, filling up the stat sheet with a .323 batting average, 17 home runs and 53 RBI. Although the Los Angeles Angels are in last place, don't be surprised if the outfielder once again finishes near the top of ballots in the MVP vote.
Before we get to that point, he will almost certainly represent the American League as the leading player among outfielders.
There is less certainty beyond that point with Boston Red Sox stars Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts trying to hold off the Kansas City Royals' Lorenzo Cain, the Baltimore Orioles' Mark Trumbo and the Toronto Blue Jays' Jose Bautista.
While Betts isn't focusing his entire attention on this race, he revealed his excitement in the possibility of starting the All-Star Game, per Rob Bradford of WEEI:
It’s definitely cool. You can’t say you never dreamed about. It’s definitely something I would love to be a part of. We’re kind of struggling right now so my mind is kind of somewhere else right now. But I’m going to do the best I can and in doing that the All-Star voting will take care of itself. Just take care of business, and that business will take care of itself.
Both he and Bradley have decent arguments to earn this status, although the competition is fierce. Even players farther down the list—such as the Texas Rangers' Ian Desmond and the New York Yankees' Carlos Beltran—are worthy of consideration thanks to their surprisingly good numbers.
As we have learned, though, the success on the field doesn't matter quite as much as whether fans like you. In this respect, Betts better hope the fans in Boston help keep him in the starting spot.
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