For now, though, Cubs fans are making like Royals fans and stuffing the All-Star ballot boxes in what looks like an effort to get their entire team to San Diego.
Major League Baseball released the first batch of results for National League All-Star voting on Wednesday and the Cubs are dominating. If voting ended right now, the Cubs would have starters at five of the eight positions for which fans can vote. That includes the entire Cubs infield of Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, Addison Russell and Kris Bryant. Dexter Fowler is second among outfielders.
The non-Cubs position leaders: Yadier Molina (at catcher), Bryce Harper (the No. 1 outfielder) and Yoenis Cespedes (the No. 3 outfielder). Here's the entire list:
The Cubs are DOMINATING the NL All-Star voting. pic.twitter.com/v0ozcRsj6W— Big League Stew (@bigleaguestew) June 1, 2016
This ballot-box stuffing isn't new. Fans have always voted for their hometown players, but last season when the All-Star voting went completely online (R.I.P., paper ballots) is when fans really started to coordinate their voting efforts. Royals fans, at one point, looked like they might vote in eight starters. That didn't happen. They wound up voting in four. And this year, Royals fans are dedicated to their All-Star voting again. The first results in the AL showed the Royals would have three starters if voting ended now. They're also in first or second place at eight of nine positions.
For the Cubs, Fowler, Zobrist and Bryant are worthwhile All-Stars, all leading their respective positions in Wins Above Replacement, according to Fangraphs. Byrant, however, has a tough challenger in Nolan Arenado at third base and Daniel Murphy has certainly been playing at an All-Star level at second base. First baseman Anthony Rizzo, leads all vote-getters in the NL, but the numbers — mainly on-base percentage and batting average — favor Paul Goldschmidt. That being said, Rizzo making the All-Star team isn't objectionable.
[Previously: Royals fans dominating All-Star voting once again]
You can't fault fans for enthusiastically backing their teams. But it gets problematic when players who blatantly don't deserve to be All-Stars are getting a ton of votes. You'll notice that the Cubs' Jason Heyward and Jorge Soler rank fourth and sixth respectively among the outfield votes, but neither of them deserve to be an All-Star based on early-season performance. Heyward is hitting just .220 with one homer. While he's great in the field, he ranks 27th among NL outfielders in WAR. Soler has been even worse. He's hitting .202 and has a -0.3 WAR.
At shortstop, Russell is another example of the fan support not matching reality. He ranks seventh in WAR among NL shortstops. And while that crop isn't particularly strong from top to bottom, Corey Seager and Brandon Crawford are clearly more deserving, at this time, to be the starter.
There's a long way to go before the actual All-Stars are picked. Voting ends June 30 at 11:59 p.m. ET, so many fans can still stuff many virtual ballot boxes. The Cubs — like the Royals last year — are the best team in baseball right now and certainly deserve to be represented at the All-Star game.
Whether their fans take things too far, though, that remains to be seen.
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