After an up and down season the Cubs have been able to scatter eight players across the first MLB All-Star ballot update.
Their streaky play all season has warranted a lack of representation for the top spot in the All-Star game, but with the tam surging late some players could flip-flop positions.
Multiple Cubs such as Wilson Contreras, Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez and Kris Bryant loom in second in voting for their respective position, while Addison Russell hovers at third in voting for shortstops. While Kyle Schwarber, along with Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward, rank seventh, eight and 10th for outfielders.
If you are hoping for Anthony Rizzo to claim the top spot on the ballot you may be disappointed to hear it is not going to happen. Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman is having another, and unsurprisingly, stellar year.
In his 250 at bats this season Freeman has an OPS of .998, according to baseball reference. Freeman leads the National League in OPS, and is tied for the lead in hits, wins above replacement and doubles.
Despite Rizzo being better in the field and ousting Freeman in RBIs by a slim margin, as of press time, Freeman is simply too dominate elsewhere. Moreover, Rizzo has only been able to sustain his success since May 3, where he has collected 23 of his 46 RBIs.
Prediction: Rizzo will be on the All-Star team as he holds a sizable lead on the third place vote getter Brandon Belt, but will justifiably fall short of the starting role.
Unlink Rizzo, Baez is cooling off after a hot start to his season. During the opening game against the Brewers June 11, Baez was able to end his 0-12 streak with a pair of hits. Even with his performance Beaz is last among Cubs position players this past month, with at-least 10 games started, in batting average, OBP and OPS.
Baez may soon be able catch fire and bring back the spark he had a few weeks ago, but even during that stretch it appeared unsustainable.
Baez roared to the league lead in RBIs through the first few months of the season, but looking back on his career he has never had more than 75 RBIs in a season. In his past two seasons Baez has had a near mirror image slash line. In 2016, Javi slashed .273/.314/.423 with 14 home runs and 59 RBIs. In 2017, he went .273/.317/.480 with 23 home runs and 75 runners knocked in, according to baseball reference. However, he struck out 36 more times in just three more games played.
While his power is developing every year, and his base running savvy becoming more evident, Baez was due for a dip in his numbers. But, if the law of averages rings true Baez is due to break out of his slump and raise his .250/.279/.522 slash line back to career numbers. And if he does so quickly he man be able to catch Albies, who has an OPS of .662 in the past month.
Prediction: If we are being honest Scooter Gennette should pass both Baez and Ablies, pushing Baez to second or third on the ballot, making him a final vote in player. Gennette has a batting average almost .100 points higher than both players and is top five in WAR, hits, RBIs, OPS, slugging percentage and tied for the NL lead in batting average.
Over at third base it is a two horse race. With Bryant and the Rockies Nolan Arenado approximately 150,000 votes ahead of the other third base candidates, as of press time. Much to the dismay of Cubs fans Bryant, much like Rizzo, has no business taking the starting role from Arenado. Arenado beats Bryant in nearly every major statistic category, at-bats, runs, hits, batting average, OBP, OPS, home runs, RBIs, WAR, OPS+ and the list goes on.
Bryant can only hold a candle to Arenado because both players have two stolen bases. But Bryants highlight reel in the field is nothing compared to Arenado's.
Prediction: Bryant will make the roster, but will not start.
Nestled in third place of the shortstop voting sits Addison Russell. Unfortunately for Russell, Brandon Crawford leads the way and continues to dominate the National League. The only jockeying Russell may do is passing Dansby Swanson, which may be a tall task. Swanson bests Russell in most major batting categories, expect batting average. Although, both he and Swanson have tallied 51 hits.
Prediction: Barring a major turnaround, Russell will fall short of the All-Star roster, which will put a damper on his splendid season thus far.
In the closest race any Cubs player is in, Contreras lurks behind Buster Posey of the Giants by less than 22,000 votes. Twenty-two thousand may seem like a large number to overcome, but it is the closest race the National League has to offer, according to the numbers in MLB's official PR account which released the ballot numbers on June 11.
When looking at the stat sheet Posey has a slight edge over Contreras. Both players are neck and neck in the power department and drive runners in at an equal pace. But this race is going to be determined by statistics that are not counted in the score box. Contreras has a laser arm few catchers can match, and gives him an edge defensively on Posey, unless it is off kilter.
Prediction: The race will be tight, but unless Contreras can put significant distance between he and Posey in home runs, batting average or RBIs he will not be able to leapfrog him for the top spot.
Giving credit where credit is due, Schwarber, Zobrist and Heyward have all preformed better than most fans expected in 2018. However, they have a lengthly list of players to climb for a spot on the roster.
Final prediction: None of them will make the All-Star roster. The National League outfield is far too talented for these players. If they are lucky, one of them will show up on the final player vote in.
For additional All-Star game coverage tune to the Sports Bark Podcast on June 13.