Even as Major League Baseball contends with stultifying games, offensive ineptitude and a looming reckoning with pitchers' use of banned substances, its gaggle of young stars often find a way to paper over the game's warts.
And the first batch of fan voting for the July 13 All-Star Game certainly reflects that.
Toronto Blue Jays slugger Vladimir Guerrero – likely the American League MVP frontrunner – received more votes than any player in balloting returns announced Monday.
Guerrero, the 22-year-old son of a Hall of Famer, tops the entire AL slash line, ranking first in batting average (.344), on-base percentage (.450) and slugging (.688), for a major league-best OPS of 1.137. He also leads the majors with 21 home runs and 55 RBI, and has received nearly 858,000 votes in early All-Star balloting.
Meanwhile, fans have an avenue to vote two-way star Shohei Ohtani into the game – he's the leading vote-getter at designated hitter; he's slugged 17 home runs with a .961 OPS and has nine stolen bases.
(For good measure, he's also struck out 68 batters in 47⅓ innings with a 2.85 ERA as a pitcher).
In the National League, Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr.'s 804,000 votes lead the pack and ensure he'll receive his second career All-Star nod.
MLB announces the All-Star Game voting leaders. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has the most votes in the American League and Ronald Acuña Jr. has received the most votes in the National League. pic.twitter.com/jIJ2AXdzqe
— Kyle Glaser (@KyleAGlaser) June 14, 2021
This year, Fernando Tatis Jr. should join him.
The wildly talented Padre with the $340 million contract leads an impressive group at shortstop, tallying 701,000 votes. They are well-earned: He leads the NL with 19 home runs and a .654 slugging percentage.
All-Star starters will be announced July 1 and the remainder of the squad revealed July 4. MLB moved the game from Atlanta to Denver after a series of voter-restriction laws were passed in Georgia.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: MLB All-Star Game 2021: Young baseball stars lead early voting results