BALTIMORE -- A year after Xander Bogaerts came up short in the Final Vote for the All-Star Game, the Red Sox shortstop is among the early leaders in voting for this year's Midsummer Classic.
Bogaerts extended his hitting streak to a career-best 24 games Tuesday and leads all American League shortstops in All-Star balloting with 598,847 votes. Kansas Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar ranks second at 593,218. It is the narrowest gap between the top two vote-getters at any AL position.
The 2016 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot reached a key point Tuesday as the first weekly voting update was released by Major League Baseball, beginning with the AL races. Kansas City has three leaders and the Orioles and Red Sox two each as fans continue to decide starters for the 87th All-Star Game on July 12 in San Diego.
National League voting leaders will be announced Wednesday.
Bogaerts, 23, leads the AL with a .350 batting average and leads all AL shortstops with 2.8 Wins Above Replacement.
Ortiz, 40, is a nine-time All-Star, having last represented Boston in 2013 at New York's Citi Field. Ortiz entered play Tuesday fourth in the AL with a .337 batting average and with 14 home runs. He leads the AL with 47 RBIs.
"Both are having an outstanding first half," Red Sox manager John Farrell said of Bogaerts and Ortiz. "That's outward acknowledgement of what they do day in and day out. We've got a number of guys that you could make a case for. But still, it's very clear that their focus and attention is what we do as a team and if that means a stopover in San Diego midsummer, then that would be great."
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, with a maximum of up to five messages and 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, in San Diego, 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.
Ben Raby is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.