(Via MLB.com) The Cubs are off to their best start other than 1907, and there’s another way to measure their success so far this season: five leaders in the first National League voting update during the ongoing 2016 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot campaign.
Only time will tell whether the starting infield at the 2016 All-Star Game presented by MasterCard on July 12 in San Diego will be the same one seen routinely at Wrigley Field, but as of Wednesday’s announcement by Major League Baseball, it would include first baseman Anthony Rizzo, second baseman Ben Zobrist, shortstop Addison Russell and third baseman Kris Bryant.
Add center fielder Dexter Fowler, who is among the three NL outfield vote leaders, and it’s a Cubs quintet. And that doesn’t even include right-hander Jake Arrieta, who could be a sixth starting Cub if things continue to go his way on the mound. Fans vote for starting position players, and the pitcher will be up to NL manager Terry Collins of the Mets and MLB.
Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com and all 30 club sites — on their computers, tablets and smartphones — exclusively online using the 2016 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot until Thursday, June 30, at 11:59 p.m. ET. Vote up to five times in any 24-hour period for a maximum of 35 times.
Rizzo was the NL’s starting designated hitter last year in Cincinnati, his second straight All-Star selection, but this time he is in line to start at first base. His 37 RBIs lead all NL first basemen. Brandon Belt of the Giants has the best OPS (.890) in this particular race, and he is second in the early tally. They are followed, respectively, by five-time All-Star Adrian Gonzalez and last year’s NL starter at first, Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt.
Zobrist was an All-Star reserve in 2009 and ’13 with Tampa Bay, but in the first update he is ahead of Daniel Murphy of the Nationals and Neil Walker of the Mets, respectively. Zobrist leads the Majors with a .445 OBP and ranks fourth with a .345 average. It could be a torrid race, given Murphy’s .397 average and Walker’s 13 homers.
Russell leads at shortstop in his first full season there for the Cubs, and entering Wednesday he ranked second among NL shortstops with 30 RBIs and 22 walks. Rockies rookie Trevor Story is right behind him, riding his historic start to several category leads (including 14 homers and 36 RBIs) among regular NL shortstops.
Bryant was a rookie All-Star reserve last year after breaking out in second place behind Matt Carpenter and then being leapfrogged by Todd Frazier for the starting job. This time, Bryant leads at NL third base in the first update. He entered Wednesday tied for second among all NL players with 37 runs and 37 RBIs. Ahead of him with 43 RBIs is Nolan Arenado, who is second in voting at third base.
Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina has the Majors’ longest active streak with seven All-Star selections, and he is in line for No. 8 after the early voting returns. So far, it’s a familiar battle with Buster Posey of the Giants.
Washington’s Bryce Harper, who last year set the all-time single-season NL voting record, leads an NL outfield trio that also includes Fowler and Yoenis Cespedes of the Mets. And don’t look now, but the three after them include two more Cubs: Jason Heyward and Jorge Soler.
Fans may also receive the ballot by texting VOTE to 89269 (USA) or 101010 (Canada). Or text VOTA for a ballot in Spanish. Message and data rates may apply, with a maximum of up to five messages and no purchase required. Reply STOP to cancel. Reply HELP for info.
Following the announcement of the 2016 All-Stars, be sure to return to MLB.com and cast your 2016 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote for the final player on each league’s All-Star roster. On Tuesday, July 12, watch the 2016 All-Star Game presented by MasterCard live on FOX, and during the game visit MLB.com to submit your choice for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet via the 2016 MLB All-Star Game MVP Vote.
The 87th All-Star Game, in San Diego, will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 160 countries via MLB International’s independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB.com, MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.