MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Murphy needs boost to move past Zobrist

Nationals second baseman vying for All-Star spot; Harper among OF leaders

Murphy needs boost to move past Zobrist

WASHINGTON -- Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy is a hitting machine, and his stats back it up. Entering Wednesday, Murphy was leading the Major Leagues in hitting with a .361 batting average, as well as leading the National League in hits, total bases, slugging percentage and multihit games.

Yet Murphy was second among NL second basemen in the latest 2016 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot update with 1,123,357 votes, which is 478,024 behind Cubs second baseman Ben Zobrist, who is also having a great year.

Cast your Esurance All-Star ballot for Murphy and other #ASGWorthy players

How good is Murphy with the bat? Whenever teammates are in slumps, manager Dusty Baker suggests that they go to Murphy for hitting tips.

"He has concentration and discipline," Baker said. "He studies probably as much as anybody. He has a pretty good idea, and his confidence is at an all-time high. He always thought he could hit. Now, he really knows he can hit."

Teammate Bryce Harper was among the top three vote-getters in the outfield, along with the Cubs' Dexter Fowler and the Mets' Yoenis Cespedes. Harper has the second-most votes (1,451,270) of the trio, behind Fowler (1,611,833).

Catcher Wilson Ramos also needs votes. Right now, he is third behind the Cardinals' Yadier Molina and the Giants' Buster Posey. Ramos is having a career year with the bat, in large part due to Lasik eye surgery, and he is among the best defensive catchers in baseball.

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.

Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for MLB.com since 2002 and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.