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Donaldson chasing Machado in #ASGWorthy duel

The Blue Jays and Orioles are in the midst of a three-game series this weekend at Camden Yards.

It's a confrontation not only between two teams battling for supremacy in the American League East, but also two players battling to be the AL's starting third baseman in the 2016 All-Star Game presented by MasterCard. While Baltimore's Manny Machado actually has spent the majority of his season at shortstop, he is listed on the 2016 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot at third base, along with Toronto's Josh Donaldson.

The Blue Jays and Orioles are in the midst of a three-game series this weekend at Camden Yards.

It's a confrontation not only between two teams battling for supremacy in the American League East, but also two players battling to be the AL's starting third baseman in the 2016 All-Star Game presented by MasterCard. While Baltimore's Manny Machado actually has spent the majority of his season at shortstop, he is listed on the 2016 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot at third base, along with Toronto's Josh Donaldson.

When the latest results were released on Tuesday, Machado (1,234,388) held a lead of close to 500,000 votes over the third-place Donaldson (754,777). The Royals' Mike Moustakas (824,727), who sustained a season-ending knee injury, was in between them.

If Machado holds on, the 23-year-old would make his third All-Star team and his first start, ending Donaldson's two-year run as the starting third baseman. But despite the gap between the two in terms of votes, there is virtually none in terms of performance.

Video: BAL@TOR: Machado breaks the tie with a solo shot

Both have been among the top 10 or so hitters in the Majors, going by weighted runs created-plus (wRC+), a park-adjusted statistic that condenses offensive output into one number, scaled to a league average of 100.

Donaldson: 156 wRC+, .278/.390/.571, 17 HR, 46 RBIs
Machado: 159 wRC+, .317/.380/.605, 17 HR, 42 RBIs

Donaldson walks a lot more, and Machado has hit for more power -- he has 10 more doubles -- but overall their contributions with the bat have been strikingly similar.

That even extends below the surface-level numbers. Both have hit about four fly balls for every three ground balls, trading some of last year's grounders for liners or flies.

For Machado, that's helped continue his increase in power. After hitting 35 homers in 2015 to crush his previous career high of 14, he already is nearly halfway to that total in '16. The reigning AL Most Valuable Player Award winner, meanwhile, has a chance to match last season's career high of 41.

Video: TOR@PHI: Donaldson shows off glove, arm, bat in win

Both players also shine defensively. Machado, who won his second AL Gold Glove Award last year, has 56 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) at third base since 2013, second only to Nolan Arenado. But Donaldson (48) is not far behind.

This season is a different matter, of course. While Donaldson has played at third exclusively, Machado returned to his old position at shortstop to fill in for the injured J.J. Hardy, who was activated from the disabled list on Saturday. In the meantime, Machado started 43 games at the more demanding spot, or almost twice as many as at the hot corner, and handled the switch capably, which should count in his favor.

Factoring in the offense and defense, FanGraphs had Donaldson at 3.8 and Machado at 3.6 wins above replacement (WAR), putting both among the top players in the Majors. In other words, there's no such thing as a wrong choice.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Baltimore Orioles, Toronto Blue Jays, Josh Donaldson, Manny Machado