With Chipper Jones back at third base, it was assumed he would once again become a favorite among All-Star voters. Based on the early returns which were announced on Wednesday, that assumption has proven true.
Jones, who has bounced back from an injury-plagued 2004 season, ranks second only to the Cardinals' Scott Rolen among National League third basemen. The two are separated by 116,882 votes. Other Braves near the top of the voting at their respective positions are Rafael Furcal, Johnny Estrada, Marcus Giles and Andruw Jones.
Furcal, who made his only All-Star appearance in 2003, ranks third among NL shortstops, trailing only the injured Nomar Garciaparra of the Cubs and David Eckstein of the Cardinals. The Braves shortstop was plagued early in the season by a sore right shoulder that bothered him at the plate. But he's compiling stolen bases with more frequency than he has since his Rookie of the Year campaign in 2000.
Estrada, who was the Braves' lone representative at last year's All-Star Game, ranks third among NL catchers, trailing the Mets' Mike Piazza and the Marlins' Paul Lo Duca. Atlanta's switch-hitting catcher appears set to hit close to .300 again this year.
Giles ranks fourth among NL second basemen, behind the Dodgers' Jeff Kent, the Astros' Craig Biggio and the Cardinals' Mark Grudzielanek. Atlanta's second baseman appears ready to hit at least .300 with 40-plus doubles, like he did in 2003 when he was voted to be the NL's starting second baseman.
Andruw Jones went through a torrid stretch in early May that helped him improve his statistics and gain some All-Star votes. He currently ranks eighth among NL outfielders. The seven-time Gold Glove winner is a three-time All-Star.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.