ATLANTA -- Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman is in prime position to be introduced to the thrill of starting an All-Star Game. Voting is in the early stages, but Freeman is in line to be joined by teammates Nick Markakis and Ozzie Albies, who are both bidding to experience the
ATLANTA -- Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman is in prime position to be introduced to the thrill of starting an All-Star Game. Voting is in the early stages, but Freeman is in line to be joined by teammates Nick Markakis and Ozzie Albies, who are both bidding to experience the Midsummer Classic for the first time.
• VOTE: 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Ballot
It would certainly be accurate to say the Braves were well represented when Major League Baseball released the first National League All-Star balloting updates on Monday afternoon.
Freeman has garnered more votes (633,342) than any other NL player. The Nationals' Bryce Harper (498, 189) is the only NL outfielder who has drawn more votes than Markakis (494,206). Albies is also currently positioned to start, as he has drawn more votes (398,816) than any other second baseman from the Senior Circuit.
The Braves are also well represented at each of the other positions through the early stages of the balloting process. Kurt Suzuki is within 60,000 votes of Giants catcher Buster Posey's leading total among NL backstops. Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ender Inciarte rank fifth and sixth, respectively, among outfielders. Dansby Swanson ranks second among shortstops, and Johan Camargo has garnered the third-most votes among third basemen.
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.
As Freeman arguably stands as the early favorite to be win the NL Most Valuable Player Award, it seems fitting that he has received more than 100,000 votes more than any other NL player. His total puts him comfortably ahead of Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado, who has garnered the second-highest total (527,683).
Freeman's lead among NL first basemen is nearly 400,000 votes. The Cubs' Anthony Rizzo ranks second with 248,275 votes.
Freeman gained All-Star selections in 2013 and '14, but he has never been elected to serve as a starter. The 28-year-old first baseman entered Monday with the NL's best batting average (.340) and slugging percentage (.568). His .430 on-base percentage ranked second, just behind Joey Votto's .433. He also led the NL in offensive WAR (3.0), Weighted Runs Created Plus (167) and OPS (.998).
Markakis' vote total puts him less than 4,000 votes behind Harper. Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, a former Brave, has garnered 351,780 votes, which puts him in position to gain the third starting NL outfield spot.
Along with having matched Freeman's NL-leading hits total (85), Markakis ranked first among NL outfielders with a .388 on-base percentage. He ranked second with a .327 batting average and fourth with a .492 slugging percentage. The 34-year-old veteran also ranked second in this group with 139 wRC+. His .881 OPS ranked third.
Albies is ahead of the Cubs' Javier Baez (360,307) and the Reds' Scooter Gennett (309,512). The 21-year-old Albies has recently slumped, but he still leads the NL with 52 runs scored. His 19 doubles have him tied for the league lead with Freeman, Markakis and the Padres' Eric Hosmer.
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.
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.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.