Cubs third baseman Kristopher Bryant is one of the faces of baseball, a hotshot prospect who turned out to be every bit as good as he was projected to be. He represents the sport's new generation of talent, and what we would like every professional athlete to be.And there's Rockies
Cubs third baseman Kristopher Bryant is one of the faces of baseball, a hotshot prospect who turned out to be every bit as good as he was projected to be. He represents the sport's new generation of talent, and what we would like every professional athlete to be.
And there's Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado. One of the best things about Colorado's ride atop the National League West is that more fans have had the opportunity to see how good Arenado is:
If Arenado hasn't been the NL's best player the past four years, he's on the very, very short list. Bryant or Arenado seem likely to be the NL starter at third for the MLB All-Star Game presented by MasterCard on July 11 in Miami.
• Cast your Esurance All-Star ballot for Bryant, Arenado and other #ASGWorthy players
They're running first and second in the latest voting update, with Bryant holding a substantial lead (895,752 to 613,571). This weekend's Rockies-Cubs series at Wrigley Field offers a chance to compare the two of them, as fans continue to fill out Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballots.
No NL position battle is more interesting. Third base might also be the strongest position, with seven of the NL's top 30 players in Wins Above Replacement: Arenado and Washington's Anthony Rendon tied for sixth, and Bryant and Cincinnati's Eugenio Suarez tied for 13th.
Here's a look at some weekend series with All-Star position battles on display:
Rockies at Cubs
NL third base
Colorado's Nolan Arenado vs. Chicago's Kris Bryant
Arenado entered Thursday's series opener with one more home run than Bryant (14-13) and a slightly higher OPS (.926-.920). Arizona's Jake Lamb led NL third basemen in both categories, but seven players are bunched in this group.
Colorado's Charlie Blackmon vs. Chicago's Jason Heyward, Benjamin Zobrist and Kyle Schwarber
Washington's Bryce Harper has a huge lead among NL outfielders, and Blackmon is firmly in second place. This series will have three other players among the leading vote-getters: Heyward (third), Zobrist (fourth) and Schwarber (sixth). The Braves' Matt Kemp sits in fifth, whicl two Marlins -- Marcell Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton -- are the sentimental favorites, but they are seventh and eighth in the balloting.
Reds at Dodgers
Los Angeles' Kyle Seager vs. Cincinnati's Zack Cozart
Just 57,033 votes separate the top two vote-getters: Seager (first) and Cozart (second). Cozart is the one with the better numbers.
Brewers at D-backs
NL first baseman
Milwaukee's Eric Thames vs. Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt
Washington's Ryan Zimmerman leads the voting, and he was also leading the position with a 1.103 OPS entering Thursday. Goldschmidt was right behind him at .996, and he was first among NL first basemen with a 2.8 WAR. Thames has cooled off since hitting 11 home runs in his first 20 games, but his overall numbers are still All-Star worthy.
White Sox at Indians
Chicago's Avisail Garcia vs. Cleveland's Michael Brantley
Brantley is third in the voting behind the Yankees' Aaron Judge and the Angels' Michael Trout, but Garcia is fifth in a solid breakout season. Brantley's season is a feel-good story, after missing most of last season and beginning Spring Training with uncertainty. Garcia is having the season many people predicted of him.
Other matchups to keep an eye on
Tigers at Red Sox, Athletics at Rays, White Sox at Indians, Royals at Padres
AL first base
Jose Cabrera (Tigers) is positioned for his 12th All-Star selection, but three others -- Yonder Alonso (A's), Carlos Santana (Indians) and Eric Hosmer (Royals) -- are bunched closely behind him, all within 100,000 votes. No one is having a better season than Justin Smoak (Blue Jays), who led AL first basemen in home runs (17), RBIs (42) and OPS (.950) entering Thursday.
Twins at Giants, Rockies at Cubs, Phillies at Cardinals
Buster Posey (Giants) has a huge lead in voting, but Willson Contreras (Cubs) and Yadier Molina (Cardinals) are in a close race for second place. Entering Thursday, Posey led NL catchers in home runs (eight) and OPS (.963). Miami's J.T. Realmuto is having an All-Star-worthy season.
Angels at Astros, White Sox at Indians, Tigers at Red Sox
Francisco Lindor (Indians) has a big lead on Carlos Correa (Astros) in voting, and even though both of them should end up on the team, starting is important. Correa leads AL shortstops in WAR (2.2), but Xander Bogaerts (Red Sox) and Lindor (Indians) are close behind.
Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.