Fowler setting tone for Cubs' All-Star candidates

Center fielder seeks first Midsummer Classic trip; Rizzo, Bryant, others hope to return

Fowler setting tone for Cubs' All-Star candidates

CINCINNATI -- Dexter Fowler's return to the Cubs has sparked the team this season, and Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant rank among the National League leaders in RBIs and home runs. All three Cubs are on the 2016 Esurance MLB All-Star Game ballot, released Sunday.

The 2016 All-Star Game presented by MasterCard will be played July 12 in San Diego, and it would be a sweet trip for Fowler, who signed a one-year contract Feb. 26 to return to the Cubs. The 30-year-old center fielder has never been selected to an All-Star Game, and this year, is making a statement.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon tells Fowler before every at-bat, "You go, we go," and the center fielder has responded. He ranks among the Major League leaders in on-base percentage and batting average.

Vote Cubs to 2016 All-Star Game

Rizzo is a two-time All-Star, while Bryant was selected in his rookie season last year. Both also participated in the Home Run Derby.

Rizzo is well ahead of last year's pace regarding home runs and leads the Cubs in RBIs, while Bryant notched his third career grand slam and matched a career high with six RBIs on Thursday against the Reds.

Other Cubs on the National League All-Star ballot include catcher Miguel Montero, second baseman Ben Zobrist, shortstop Addison Russell and outfielders Jorge Soler and Jason Heyward. Montero was an All-Star with the D-backs in 2011 and 2014; Zobrist was named to the 2009 and 2013 American League teams while with the Rays, and Heyward was selected his rookie year in 2010 with the Braves.

Browsing the ballot

The other side: Astros shortstop Carlos Correa is a unique talent. At 21, he's batting third and providing web gems on a regular basis. The 2015 American League Rookie of the Year, Correa has kept up his hot start. Can't wait to see him in person when the Cubs play the Astros in September.

Tip of the cap: Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos is handling one of the best pitching staffs in baseball and also contributing at the plate. Maybe it's time he was selected to his first All-Star Game. The Cubs' David Ross may get votes for his handling of Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta in the catcher's last season.

A rising star: The Rockies' Trevor Story made a splash with seven home runs in his first six games, quite a feat for a rookie. He hasn't maintained that red-hot pace, but is a player worth considering.

Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- on their computers, tablets and smartphones -- exclusively online using the 2016 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot until Thursday, June 30, at 11:59 p.m. ET. Vote up to five times in any 24-hour period for a maximum of 35 times.

Fans may also receive the ballot by texting VOTE to 89269 (USA) or 101010 (Canada). Or text VOTA for a ballot in Spanish. Message and data rates may apply. Up to five messages. No purchase required. Reply STOP to cancel. Reply HELP for info.

Following the announcement of the 2016 All-Stars, be sure to return to MLB.com and cast your 2016 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote for the final player on each league's All-Star roster. On Tuesday, July 12, watch the 2016 All-Star Game presented by MasterCard live on FOX, and during the game visit MLB.com to submit your choice for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet via the 2016 MLB All-Star Game MVP Vote.

The 87th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 160 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB.com, MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.