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Baez's brilliance could earn him 1st ASG trip

Second baseman leads Cubs on ballot for 2018 Midsummer Classic
MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

NEW YORK -- Javier Baez has flashed his dazzling defensive skills this season and has ranked among the National League leaders in RBIs. Could the Cubs infielder be an All-Star?

VOTE: 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Ballot

View Full Game Coverage

NEW YORK -- Javier Baez has flashed his dazzling defensive skills this season and has ranked among the National League leaders in RBIs. Could the Cubs infielder be an All-Star?

VOTE: 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Ballot

View Full Game Coverage

Voting started Friday for the 2018 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard, to be played July 17 in Washington, and Baez is on the ballot at second base. He'll have some tough competition from the Reds' Scooter Gennett, the Braves' Ozzie Albies and the Mets' Asdrubal Cabrera.

Other Cubs on the All-Star ballot include first baseman Anthony Rizzo, shortstop Addison Russell, third baseman Kris Bryant, catcher Willson Contreras and outfielders Jason Heyward, Kyle Schwarber and Ben Zobrist. Rizzo and Zobrist have been selected to the Midsummer Classic three times each and Bryant has been selected twice, while Russell (2016) and Heyward ('10) have both gone once.

Fans may cast votes for starters at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- on computers, tablets and smartphones -- exclusively online using the 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Ballot until Thursday, July 5, at 11:59 p.m. ET. On smartphones and tablets, fans can also access the ballot via the MLB At Bat and MLB Ballpark mobile apps. Each fan can vote up to five times in any 24-hour period, for a maximum of 35 ballots cast.

Following the announcement of this year's All-Star starters, reserves and pitchers, fans should return to MLB.com and cast their 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Final Vote for the final player on each league's roster. Then on Tuesday, July 17, while watching the 2018 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard live on FOX, fans may visit MLB.com to submit their choices for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet with the 2018 MLB All-Star Game MVP Vote.

Video: SF@CHC: Baez belts 13th homer of the year to right

The 89th Midsummer Classic, at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., will be televised nationally by FOX Sports; in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS; and worldwide by partners in more than 180 countries. FOX Deportes will provide Spanish-language coverage in the United States, while ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network, MLB.com and SiriusXM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information about MLB All-Star Week and to purchase tickets, please visit AllStarGame.com and follow @MLB and @AllStarGame on social media.

Last year, Baez had 10 home runs and 33 RBIs by the All-Star break. He topped both of those numbers before June 1 this year.

"His whole game is spectacular and as he matures as a hitter, I have no idea what he'll do because he is one of the most exciting players in the game right now," manager Joe Maddon said.

There will be times when Baez, 25, swings with what Maddon calls his "John Daly hack," falling to the ground and appearing to wrench his back because of the torque. Baez just gets back to his feet and swings again.

On Thursday against the Mets, Baez drew his first walk since April 11, and Maddon joked that he wanted to get the ball as a souvenir.

Video: CHC@NYM: Baez works 1st walk since April 7

"I don't go out there looking for a walk," Baez said. "As long as the pitcher is there, I'm swinging."

But he's also creating havoc on the bases with his skills as well as helping his pitchers with acrobatic plays on defense. Baez is fearless and he knows how to play.

"When you're going to go scout, watch guys run the bases and that'll tell you what their instincts are like in the game of baseball," Maddon said. "If a guy showed you some really good thoughts on the bases, he probably has great instincts for the rest of the game. They see things -- it's like a good running back. It's not glamorous, but they pay attention. Javy is among the best I've ever seen or had."

And Baez does it with style.

"There's not a lot of things he can't do, and obviously he does it with a lot of flair," Cubs pitcher Jon Lester said. "It's fun to watch."

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.

Chicago Cubs, Javier Baez