The season is young -- but not so young that we can't highlight players standing out in the crowd. With the release of the 2016 Esurance MLB All-Star Ballot, it's time to start paying attention to who might be worthy of inclusion in the July 12 Midsummer Classic at San Diego's Petco Park and let your clicks be heard.
As a public service, we're going to look position by position in each league. We'll begin today with National League first basemen.
Anthony Rizzo is the heart and soul of that loaded Cubs lineup, and unsurprisingly, he's delivered in the early going, mashing eight homers and driving in 21 runs (trailing only Bryce Harper in those categories). Adrian Gonzalez continues to age like a fine wine, delivering a .351/.417/.527 slash line so far.
And though Paul Goldschmidt is off to a slower start than you'd expect in terms of his average (.261), he's still got a .536 SLG (five homers, two doubles and a triple) and is delivering dynamic defense to compile the second-highest FanGraphs-calculated WAR tally (0.7) among NL first basemen.
The fast starters
Chris Carter has delivered on his power reputation in an extreme way for the Brewers, cranking out five homers and a league-high nine doubles. He's also got a batting average (.295) that is 75 points above his career norm -- a figure that might not be sustainable considering his penchant for strikeouts -- and the highest OPS among NL first basemen (1.050).
And John Jaso has acquitted himself very well defensively at first base, considering he had played just five innings at the position previously. Meanwhile, he's coming through with a .344 average and a .403 on-base percentage in the leadoff role for the Pirates.
The rising stars
One player who qualifies in this category because of his age (25) and his previous inexperience at the position is Wil Myers. The Padres love what they're seeing from one of their key acquisitions of the offseason preceding the 2015 campaign, when injuries limited him to just 60 games.
Myers has a .316/.341/.513 slash line, good for a 130 OPS+. He's also handling himself well at his new position in the field.
Lying in the weeds
Spoiler alert: Joey Votto isn't going to hit .206 all season. We know he can get hot in a hurry, as evidenced by his scorching .362/.535/.617 slash line in the second half last year. Votto certainly knows, recently calling his swing a "fine piece of machinery" and warning us not to "rush the Ferrari." We'll see how quickly he can rev up his engine.
Keep an eye on Lucas Duda, who hit three homers over the past week, as well as Freddie Freeman and Ryan Zimmerman, two players who battled physical issues in 2015 but whose track records suggest they could catch fire.
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.