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Surprising starts reflected in NL All-Star voting

Three Braves, two Giants among early leaders for starting spots
MLB.com @castrovince

The Braves' surge in the National League East standings has carried over into the 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Ballot. In the first NL ballot update released Monday, Atlanta, which has been one of baseball's best stories this season, occupies three of the eight potential starting slots, with first baseman Freddie Freeman getting more clicks than any NL player at the virtual ballot box.

VOTE NOW: 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Ballot

The Braves' surge in the National League East standings has carried over into the 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Ballot. In the first NL ballot update released Monday, Atlanta, which has been one of baseball's best stories this season, occupies three of the eight potential starting slots, with first baseman Freddie Freeman getting more clicks than any NL player at the virtual ballot box.

VOTE NOW: 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Ballot

Freeman, second baseman Ozzie Albies and outfielder Nick Markakis are all on pace to start for the NL in the 89th All-Star Game presented by Mastercard, to be played on Tuesday, July 17, at Nationals Park in Washington.

American League All-Star voting update

The only other NL squad with multiple players currently in a starting slot is the Giants, with catcher Buster Posey and shortstop Brandon Crawford.

Here is the first batch of NL results, with statistics through Sunday's games:

Video: PHI@SF: Posey homers over the left-field wall

CATCHER
1. Buster Posey, Giants: 281,331
2. Willson Contreras, Cubs: 259,427
3. Kurt Suzuki, Braves: 223,108
4. Francisco Cervelli, Pirates: 168,832
5. Yadier Molina, Cardinals: 152,336

Posey is vying for his fourth consecutive start behind the dish for the NL, and he has close competition in this race from Contreras and Suzuki. Contreras' .825 OPS is the highest among qualified NL catchers. He is hitting .281/.372/.453, while Posey is at .294/.365/.431 and Suzuki is hitting .273/.335/.474.

Video: ATL@SD: Freeman homers, collects 4 hits vs. Padres

FIRST BASE
1. Freddie Freeman, Braves: 633,342
2. Anthony Rizzo, Cubs: 248,275
3. Brandon Belt, Giants: 162,750
4. Cody Bellinger, Dodgers: 113,392
5. Joey Votto, Reds: 83,272

Freeman's vote total is tops in the league, a well-deserved recognition for the guy with the highest OPS (.998) in the NL. Freeman's .340/.430/.568 line with 12 homers, 19 doubles and 45 RBIs has him on pace for his first All-Star selection since 2014. Rizzo is off to a slow start offensively, but he has swung the bat well in recent weeks, and Belt has been slowed this season by his recent appendectomy.

Video: ATL@LAD: Albies skies a solo home run to right

SECOND BASE
1. Ozzie Albies, Braves: 398,816
2. Javier Baez, Cubs: 360,307
3. Scooter Gennett, Reds: 309,512
4. Asdrubal Cabrera, Mets: 97,243
5. Joe Panik, Giants: 62,325

Albies didn't get as much preseason attention as fellow "Baby Brave" Ronald Acuna Jr., but the second baseman's revelatory extra-base-hit production (he has 36 of them to lead all NL hitters) has helped accelerate the Braves' competitive timetable. This is a close race, though, with Albies, Baez and Gennett all within 90,000 votes of each other. Gennett's .340/.376/.556 line with 12 homers and 47 RBIs has made him one of the game's most unexpected delights.

Video: LAD@COL: Arenado rips 2 singles, makes a great grab

THIRD BASE
1. Nolan Arenado, Rockies: 527,683
2. Kris Bryant, Cubs: 305,062
3. Johan Camargo, Braves: 152,260
4. Eugenio Suarez, Reds: 87,659
5. Justin Turner, Dodgers: 87,387

Arenado vs. Bryant is one of the more interesting positional debates in the game right now, and Arenado has the current edge both in the offensive numbers and the All-Star vote. Arenado's .314/.407/.549 slash line outpaces Bryant's .293/.402/.500 marks. Suarez's offensive numbers (.301/.386/.568, 12 homers, 11 doubles, 48 RBIs) merit strong consideration, too.

Video: SF@WSH: Crawford tallies 4 hits vs. Scherzer, Nats

SHORTSTOP
1. Brandon Crawford, Giants: 466,021
2. Dansby Swanson, Braves: 225,182
3. Addison Russell, Cubs: 210,764
4. Trea Turner, Nationals: 158,252
5. Trevor Story, Rockies: 143,603

Crawford's .338 average, .385 on-base percentage and .536 slugging percentage are all far and away the best among qualified NL shortstops, so his placement here hardly qualifies as a surprise. He just had a three-hit day off Max Scherzer that included a two-run home run in a 2-0 win, and his .439 average since May 1 is by far the best in the Majors.

Video: SF@WSH: Harper cracks a solo blast to right-center

OUTFIELD
1. Bryce Harper, Nationals: 498,189
2. Nick Markakis, Braves: 494,206
3. Matt Kemp, Dodgers: 351,780
4. Charlie Blackmon, Rockies: 309,099
5. Ronald Acuna Jr., Braves: 277,077
6. Ender Inciarte, Braves: 225,225
7. Kyle Schwarber, Cubs: 203,299
8. Ben Zobrist, Cubs: 196,837
9. Odubel Herrera, Phillies: 189,234
10. Jason Heyward, Cubs: 175,583
11. Christian Yelich, Brewers: 163,575
12. Corey Dickerson, Pirates: 150,239
13. A.J. Pollock, D-backs: 110,055
14. Matt Adams, Nationals: 106,317
15. Lorenzo Cain, Brewers: 104,948

The race for the third outfield spot is one of the closest, with Kemp outpacing Blackmon by just roughly 42,000 votes. The 33-year-old Kemp has had a stunning start to the season -- a .338/.368/.564 slash line with 10 home runs and 16 doubles -- after getting shipped from Atlanta back to Los Angeles in a deal that was perceived to be only about financial flexibility for the Dodgers, not about acquiring an All-Star.

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.

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, visit AllStarGame.com and follow @MLB and @AllStarGame on social media.

Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince.