The 2016 All-Star Game may well look like a Chicago Cubs game. The Cubbies have the best record in baseball and it’s showing in the All-Star Voting.
Chicago’s entire starting infield is on track to start the game in San Diego. Outfielder Dexter Fowler is also on track to start, as he leads the voting among all National League outfielders.
The first lesson here should be old one. Never bet against a person from Chicago in an election.
In all seriousness, there’s not a lot to argue with here. The Cubs are having a monster year. We’re nearly halfway through the 2016 MLB season, and right now, there’s no team that’s all that close to the North Siders. Because of that, they should be well represented in San Diego.
With that said, a few facts are notable.
One, with the exception of Addison Russell at shortstop, it would be hard to say that any Cub currently in a starting position is unworthy. Still, the leads are mostly nearly insurmountable, which is a little hard to believe. Ben Zobrist and Kris Bryant each have more votes than their closest two rivals combined. Anthony Rizzo has more votes than the National League’s next three leading vote-getters at first base.
In the outfield, Dexter Fowler is certainly having an All-Star caliber season. Still, seeing him in front of reigning NL MVP is less than expected. What’s more noteworthy in the outfield is that Jason Heyward — who’s in the midst of a terrible season — is fourth in voting.
Of the guys currently on track to start, Russell is the only one whose spot is in jeopardy, as he leads Trevor Story of the Colorado Rockies by just over 282,000 votes.
He should be the closest, as his spot in the starting lineup is the only big problem. As it seems unlikely that more than three shortstops will go to San Diego, Russell’s inclusion would likely mean that two of Story, Brandon Crawford, Corey Seager, and Zack Cozart would not go. Those guys are all having significantly better seasons than Russell, especially at the plate.
That’s not to say that any of this is a huge issue. Fans are encouraged to vote and vote often. So, while not uncommon, cries of “stuffing the ballot box” are out of place. The bigger issue here is that the game still matters.
If it was a true exhibition, then even Russell’s inclusion would not be a big issue to anyone who’s not a fan of one of the snubbed players.
As it is, it’s an inconvenience, but nothing more. There’s nothing that Chicago’s fans are doing that other fans can’t do. If one is bothered by this many Cubs starting, that person would be well advised to either vote and vote often against them or keep his/her mouth shut when Chicago’s best are all over the field during the All-Star Game.