Starting spots still in the air in NL All-Star voting

Four Cubs vying to be league's overall balloting leader

Starting spots still in the air in NL All-Star voting

The 2016 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot is headed into its last two weeks of heaviest voting volume to decide starters for the 87th All-Star Game presented by MasterCard on July 12 at Petco Park in San Diego, and five key races remain up for grabs in the National League at catcher, second base, third base, shortstop and the third outfield spot.

NL leaders announced Wednesday by Major League Baseball once again included Yadier Molina of the Cardinals at catcher, Anthony Rizzo of the Cubs at first base, Ben Zobrist of the Cubs at second base, Kris Bryant of the Cubs at third base, Addison Russell of the Cubs at shortstop, and an outfield of Chicago's Dexter Fowler, Bryce Harper of the Nationals and Yoenis Cespedes of the Mets. But the races are far from over.

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Balloting history at MLB.com shows that many races are changeable despite seemingly large leads due to record voting pace during the final two weeks. Pablo Sandoval, Ryan Braun, Robinson Cano, Albert Pujols, Dustin Pedroia, Alex Avila, Josh Hamilton and Melky Cabrera are just some of the many examples who come to mind as late-surge All-Star starters.

Balloting continues until 11:59 p.m. ET on June 30 and you can vote up to five times in any 24-hour period for a maximum of 35 times.

Close race for third outfield spot in American League

Catcher is still the tightest NL race, with Molina nudging his lead to 77,287 votes over Buster Posey of the Giants in a bid for his eighth consecutive selection. And don't sleep on Washington's Wilson Ramos, who has 600,181 votes to stay within striking distance. Just shy of qualifying for league leaders, Ramos leads all Major League catchers with at least 180 plate appearances in batting average (.333), on-base percentage (.382), OPS (.939) and fewest strikeouts (25).

The current Cubs-Nationals series is a showdown between the clubs with the NL's two best records, and a microcosm of that intense atmosphere can be found in the All-Star race at second base: It's a chance to see Zobrist and Daniel Murphy on the same stage. Zobrist, who scored a key run in the Cubs' 4-3 victory on Tuesday, leads all NL second basemen in runs and on-base percentage. Murphy was hitless four times up in that game, but leads the Majors in batting and the NL in OPS. Since last week's update, Zobrist has outgained Murphy by only 89,141 votes, suggesting a possible trending change.

The situation at third base is almost identical as that in the race at second, with roughly the same margin separating Bryant and Colorado's Nolan Arenado. Arenado leads Bryant in average, homers, RBIs, OPS and he has half the number of strikeouts ... and is best-known for his glove. But Bryant is a cog on a Cubs team that has continued to tear up the NL. Bryant garnered more votes than Arenado in the past week, 456,906 to 325,100, but now the clicks will intensify even more.

In fact, the entire left side of the infield is a Cubs-Rockies race, as Colorado rookie Trevor Story continues to stay on Russell's heels in the balloting at shortstop. Russell's lead is 282,041.

Jason Heyward of the Cubs is 402,504 away from Cespedes in the race for the last outfield spot, and Milwaukee's Braun is right behind him. As noted above, Braun is no stranger to leapfrogging in the final two weeks of heavy voting.

Rizzo, a two-time All-Star (2014-15) bidding for his first fan election, remains the NL's top vote-getter with 1,748,850 total votes received.

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.

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, 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.

NATIONAL LEAGUE ALL-STAR BALLOTING LEADERS

CATCHER
1. Yadier Molina, Cardinals: 933,300
2. Buster Posey, Giants: 856,013
3. Wilson Ramos, Nationals: 600,181
4. Miguel Montero, Cubs: 579,933
5. Jonathan Lucroy, Brewers: 434,029

FIRST BASE
1. Anthony Rizzo, Cubs: 1,748,850
2. Brandon Belt, Giants: 584,533
3. Paul Goldschmidt, D-backs: 485,008
4. Adrian Gonzalez, Dodgers: 474,762
5. John Jaso, Pirates: 276,254

SECOND BASE
1. Ben Zobrist, Cubs: 1,601,381
2. Daniel Murphy, Nationals: 1,123,357
3. Neil Walker, Mets: 384,255
4. Joe Panik, Giants: 374,271
5. Josh Harrison, Pirates: 309,085

THIRD BASE
1. Kris Bryant, Cubs: 1,629,623
2. Nolan Arenado, Rockies: 1,166,247
3. Matt Carpenter, Cardinals: 424,794
4. Matt Duffy, Giants: 330,644
5. David Wright, Mets: 273,002

SHORTSTOP
1. Addison Russell, Cubs: 1,170,012
2. Trevor Story, Rockies: 887,971
3. Brandon Crawford, Giants: 501,557
4. Corey Seager, Dodgers: 476,525
5. Zack Cozart, Reds: 393,101

OUTFIELD
1. Dexter Fowler, Cubs: 1,611,833
2. Bryce Harper, Nationals: 1,451,270
3. Yoenis Cespedes, Mets: 1,395,577
4. Jason Heyward, Cubs: 993,073
5. Ryan Braun, Brewers: 845,093
6. Jorge Soler, Cubs: 678,395
7. Andrew McCutchen, Pirates: 557,531
8. Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies: 516,554
9. Starling Marte, Pirates: 481,887
10. Hunter Pence, Giants: 448,871
11. Stephen Piscotty, Cardinals: 424,264
12. Matt Holliday, Cardinals: 335,257
13. Michael Conforto, Mets: 332,333
14. Gregory Polanco, Pirates: 332,250
15. Charlie Blackmon, Rockies: 314,502

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.