Who do you have -- Daniel Murphy or Ben Zobrist? How about this one -- Nolan Arenado or Kris Bryant? Every manager on the planet would love to have to make that decision. Such is the beauty of All-Star voting.We're going down to the wire on some of these races
Who do you have -- Daniel Murphy or Ben Zobrist? How about this one -- Nolan Arenado or Kris Bryant? Every manager on the planet would love to have to make that decision. Such is the beauty of All-Star voting.
We're going down to the wire on some of these races in both leagues. Time to give your guys another push toward San Diego as we approach the final hours of online voting (11:59 p.m. ET tonight).
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Let's look at some of the closest races:
Zobrist leads Murphy by 185,000 votes in the National League second-base race. Look, Zobrist is one of the best players of his generation and has one of the more interesting careers any player has had.
But Murphy is leading the NL with a .352 batting average and has more doubles, triples, home runs and RBIs. Like Zobrist, he's a big part of a first-place team. Both deserve to be in San Diego. Murphy deserves it a tad more.
Buster Posey has taken a 107,000-vote lead over Yadier Molina in the NL catcher voting. Both those guys are huge stars who've been instrumental in their team winning championships. Both seem destined for Cooperstown.
But Posey is having a better year. His batting average is 26 points higher and his OPS 139 points better. Posey has an 8 to 1 edge in home runs. These guys both belong in the NL All-Star clubhouse. Posey is more deserving of the starting lineup.
• Races narrow as All-Star voting reaches final day
Arenado is making a nice push against Bryant, getting within 290,000 votes, as fans take a second and third look at his season. He leads all NL position players in Baseball Reference's Wins Above Replacement calculation (3.8). Both have 21 home runs, but Arenado has more doubles (20 to 19) and RBIs (65 to 58), as well as a higher OPS (.951 to .931).
Yoenis Cespedes leads Dexter Fowler by 4,000 votes for the top spot in the NL outfield race. In this final run through the ballot, an alternative top three might be Marcell Ozuna, Carlos Gonzalez and Cespedes.
Edge: Ozuna, Gonzalez, Cespedes
Rockies rookie Trevor Story has gotten within 290,000 votes of Addison Russell in the NL shortstop voting. He deserves to finish the deal after a first half in which he's leading all NL shortstops in home runs (19) and RBIs (50). Story is third in OPS (.886) behind two rookies -- Aledmys Diaz of the Cardinals and Corey Seager of the Dodgers.
Mike Trout and Jackie Bradley Jr. seem likely to get two of the three starting outfield spots in the American League. After that, Mookie Betts, Lorenzo Cain, Mark Trumbo and Jose Bautista are bunched together. Betts ought to get that final spot even though Ian Desmond, George Springer and Adam Eaton might be more deserving. This position could be Royals manager Ned Yost's toughest call.
Some races are all but decided. For instance, Astros second baseman Jose Altuve seems certain to be the AL All-Star team's starting second baseman. Not much doubt about that.
Altuve is leading the Majors in batting with a .357 average, and he is at .420 in June. No matter how good you think this guy is, he's probably better. As Altuve makes a run at his second batting title in three seasons, he has moved right alongside Trout in the AL Most Valuable Player Award race.
Anthony Rizzo of the Cubs is cruising toward the first-base starting job for the NL. Likewise, Royals catcher Salvador Perez has blown away the competition in going for his fourth straight AL All-Star appearance.
There's something very cool about selecting the All-Star starting lineups this way. In this way, it's truly a fans' game. Which is the way it ought to be.
Through the years, they've mostly gotten it right. Every season, there are areas of debate, but that's the way it's supposed to be. Such debates have been part of All-Star Games since the first one was played 83 years ago. In the end, they make the whole thing better.
Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U.