The Camping World All-Star voting polls opened to the fans a little more than a week ago and MLB released its first update of the leaders for the National League earlier this week. It’s been an exciting race so far, but it’s not a surprise that the players leading their respective positions are in the lead at this point in the voting.
There are three more weeks of voting left. That said, baseball fans, it’s not too late to get deserving players to the All-Star Game, regardless of if they’re on your team or not. Thus, let’s look at the current leaders in the NL for the starting roles and grade the fans based on my NL All-Star picks from last week.
1 Catcher: Buster Posey
San Francisco Giants fans have always done a great job going to the polls and voting for their players to go to start in the All-Star Game and arguably, they’ve been one of the few franchises over the years that deserve to have starters in the All-Star Game every year no matter how the team is doing. Things appear to be going well for Buster Posey, but he’s only 22,000 votes ahead of Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras.
I know I said Posey was the more deserving catcher to start the All-Star Game last week and if someone was to put season success into the equation, Posey would be more deserving since he’s been doing well all season. If you look at the stat lines below though, Contreras is just as deserving of starting the All-Star Game this year. Since May 7, Contreras has hit .323 while posting a .419 OBP, which has also translated to the Cubs picking up the pace in the NL Central with the Milwaukee Brewers for the division lead.
Between Posey and Contreras, it’s hard to say the fans have it wrong with the voting results and as long as Posey’s hitting and helping the Giants win it’s hard to blame the fans for voting for him but Contreras is in the same boat and at this point he’s the more deserving catcher to start his first ever All-Star Game.
2 First Base: Freddie Freeman
Freddie Freeman is the leading vote-getter in the NL right now and for good reason. With the Atlanta Braves tied with the Washington Nationals for first in the NL East, it’s been hard to ignore what Freeman has done for a Braves team that’s a year early in the title contention process. Freeman’s MVP-caliber start to the year has been one of the many driving forces behind the Braves early season success and it’s only fitting he leads the polls with over 633,000 votes.
In fact, Freeman is so far ahead in the polls it’s not even a competition for who should start for the NL at first. Another Cubs star, Anthony Rizzo, is second with just over 248,000 votes and Dodgers first baseman Cody Bellinger is third with 162,000. Cubs fans may be good at going to the polls to vote their players into the game, but Freeman has the advantage by a landslide and it looks more like the Braves will have at least one starter in the All-Star Game this summer.
3 Second Base: Ozzie Albies
Giving the fans a C for Braves rookie slugger Ozzie Albies may be a little harsh but in my article last week, I clarified that a team’s place in the division standings shouldn’t matter in the voting. Yes, the Braves are tied for first and Albies is an early favorite for the NL Rookie of the Year award, but his recent downfall isn’t something that’s worthy of making him a starter in the All-Star Game. Among qualifiers in hitting at second base in the NL, Albies is sixth out of eight with a .256 average but leads the way in home runs with 15.
Again, I know giving a C to the fans sounds harsh but Cincinnati Reds second baseman Scooter Gennett, who sits third in the polls at the position, is way more deserving of the honor than Albies. Not to say Albies isn’t deserving of an All-Star nod but in this case, the fans should know even if Albies weren’t to get voted in to start he’ll more than likely get the nod to be on the roster. Gennett’s .340 batting average is the best in the NL too, meaning he should easily be ahead in the voting right now.
4 Shortstop: Brandon Crawford
Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford is having a career year at the plate and he continued to put up an All-Star worthy performance with his decisive two-run home run of Max Scherzer, who will probably start the All-Star Game this summer, on Sunday. Crawford’s .333 batting average at this point in the year is also a career best as he continues to pace himself for a career year at the plate.
Like first base, the gap between first and second in the voting is wide, with Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson sitting in second with 225,000 votes. Crawford’s been to one All-Star Game in his career and the three-time Gold Glove Award winner has finally figured out his approach at the plate, making him a complete player and a more than deserving candidate to start the All-Star Game.
5 Third Base: Nolan Arenado
The Colorado Rockies may be struggling to win games right now, but Nolan Arenado continues to amaze the league with his hitting and fielding every night. He had a rough weekend series against the Arizona Diamondbacks last weekend, which dropped his batting average to .314 at the end of it all, but he still leads all third baseman in the NL in hitting and home runs.
One thing that’s been common in the NL so far are the gaps between first and second place and like the first base and shortstop positions, Arenado has a comfortable lead over Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant in first place, leading by over 222,000 votes. Arenado started the All-Star Game last year, and it looks like a sure bet he’ll start again this year, but his weekend struggles should be something to keep in mind fans because he’s losing ground to guys like Brian Anderson and Eugenio Suarez in offensive categories. For now, though, as long as he keeps up his pace, fill the ballots with his name at third.
6 Left Field: Matt Kemp
Matt Kemp is having a rebound year at the plate after several dismal seasons with the Padres and Braves. Kemp was last an All-Star in 2012 but was injured and couldn’t play. Of all the leaders in the voting, I’m more surprised that Kemp is third among all outfielders in the voting as of today. So, fans, I applaud your efforts to get the best hitting outfielder into the starting lineup this summer.
The 33-year-old outfielder has never started an All-Star Game either, like most of the leaders at this point in the voting process. There’s a strong possibility that his manager, Dave Roberts, will slot him in as the DH with Bryce Harper likely to be in the starting lineup for the host team, but a start is a start and right now, it looks like Kemp is on his way to a deserving All-Star Game start for the first time.
7 Center Field: Bryce Harper
Okay, yes, Harper is the face of the Nationals and yes, the Nationals need a starter in the All-Star Game but if he played on the west coast, Harper wouldn’t be in the conversation to play in the All-Star Game this year. His .228 batting average is the worst among all the NL vote leaders, but his 19 home runs are the most among the starters right now. Even San Diego Padres first baseman Wil Myers wasn’t in the top ten in voting in 2016 when the Padres hosted the All-Star Game, and he was hitting .286 at the break that year with 19 home runs.
Everyone who follows the game knows Harper will automatically be in the All-Star Game with or without the help of fans, and the fact he leads all outfielders in voting is sad to think about, showing that this is still a popularity contest rather than a true voting process. Maybe it’s only fitting that Harper is leading the voting considering the All-Star Game is being held in his home ballpark, but his numbers don't exactly make a strong case for an All-Star bid.
8 Right Field: Nick Markakis
So far, Braves fans have done the best job overall in getting their players votes to start the All-Star Game and they couldn’t be helping a better and more humble player than Nick Markakis. Markakis has never played in an All-Star Game in his 13-year MLB career, but the start to what’s been a career year so far has been hard to ignore, similar to that of teammates Freeman and Albies. Markakis has a comfortable lead over the other 13 outfielders in the standings, leading third-place Kemp by 143,000 plus votes.
The 34-year-old veteran is also in the final year of his four-year deal with the Braves and this could be his only chance to make it to the All-Star Game as he continues to get older. As of now, it looks like Markakis is a sure bet to start the All-Star Game, and his .327 batting average is third among all outfielders in MLB and second in the NL only behind Kemp.
Overall Grade: A
Great job, fans! So far, you all have done a great job in getting the players who are most deserving of starting the game the lead in the polls. Even with players that aren’t leading but deserve to start are in the top five, or fifteen in the outfield, in the voting and there’s still plenty of time to vote those deserving players in.
After seeing last year’s starters and seeing the polls after a week-and-a-half of the polls opening, I’m encouraged by what I see and am looking forward to seeing what you the fans have in store for the remaining three-and-a-half weeks left to vote. Keep up the great work!
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