Close races highlight latest National League All-Star balloting update

Nine days remain in voting period; Esurance MLB All-Star Game ballot available online until Thursday, June 30th at 11:59 p.m. (ET)

Close races at several positions, including shortstop, third base, second base and catcher, highlight the latest National League fan balloting update for the 2016 Major League Baseball All-Star Game presented by MasterCard, it was announced earlier today on MLB Network. The 2016 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot, which is available exclusively online via MLB.com, Club sites and mobile devices, will be accessible until the voting period ends on Thursday, June 30th at 11:59 p.m. (ET).

A pair of young shortstops - 22-year-old Addison Russell of the Chicago Cubs (1,489,998) and 23-year-old Trevor Story of the Colorado Rockies (1,110,002) - remain separated by a small margin as each aims for their first Midsummer Classic selection. Russell, who would join Don Kessinger (1970, 72) as the only Cubs shortstops to earn a fan-elected start, is batting .227 in his second big league season with six home runs, 37 RBI, eight doubles and 26 runs scored. Story, who made his Major League debut in April, is tied for third in the NL with 18 home runs along with a .264 batting average, 15 doubles, 46 RBI and 40 runs scored.

At third base, 24-year-old Kris Bryant of the Cubs (2,070,738) continues to hold off 25-year-old Nolan Arenado of the Rockies (1,543,515) as each seek a second consecutive All-Star Game selection. Bryant, who looks to join Hall of Famer Ron Santo (1973) as the only Cubs third basemen to earn a fan election, is hitting .274 with 17 home runs, 48 RBI, 16 doubles and an NL-best 52 runs scored. Arenado, who is tied for the Major League lead with 20 home runs, has 14 doubles and 48 runs scored to go along with his NL-leading 57 RBI. In addition, Arenado leads all Major League third basemen with a .995 fielding percentage, having committed just one error in 212 total chances.

Two second basemen in their first season with their current club - Ben Zobrist of the Cubs (2,057,122) and Daniel Murphy of the Washington Nationals (1,573,890) - are engaged in a closely contested race. Zobrist, a two-time AL All-Star with Tampa Bay (2009, 13), is hitting .316 with nine home runs, 41 RBI, 13 doubles and 48 runs scored as he competes for his first career starting assignment. Murphy, an All-Star with the New York Mets in 2014, leads the NL with a .356 batting average and 93 hits to go along with his 12 home runs, 46 RBI, 19 doubles and 40 runs scored.

In the NL's tightest contest, St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina (1,205,497), a seven-time All-Star bidding for his fifth fan election (2009-10, 13-14), continues to hold a slim lead over three-time All-Star backstop Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants (1,130,084). Molina is batting .269 on the season with a home run, 24 RBI, 15 doubles and 24 runs scored, while Posey is batting .274 with eight home runs, 32 RBI, 14 doubles and 37 runs scored. Together, Molina and Posey have combined to win each of the last four and six of the last seven fan elections as the NL's starting catcher at the Midsummer Classic.

The remaining NL leaders include: first baseman and overall NL leader Anthony Rizzo of the Cubs (2,202,494); and outfielders Dexter Fowler of the Cubs (2,003,115), Bryce Harper of the Nationals (1,824,808) and Yoenis Cespedes of the Mets (1,759,302).

The Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot, the largest program of its kind in professional sports, is being conducted exclusively online for the second consecutive season. Fans around the world can cast their votes for starters a total of 35 times with the 2016 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot, including a maximum of five valid ballots cast in any 24-hour period. The 2016 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot is available in English and Spanish, and offers audio CAPTCHA functionality for visually impaired fans. Banco BHD once again sponsors online All-Star balloting in the Dominican Republic, making Spanish-language ballots available to fans in the Dominican Republic via LasMayores.com, the official Spanish-language Web site of Major League Baseball.

Details regarding the unveiling of the 2016 American League and National League All-Star Teams will be announced later this week. The AL All-Star Team will have nine elected starters via the fan balloting program, while the NL All-Star Team will have eight fan-elected starters. The pitchers and reserves for both squads - totaling 25 for the NL and 24 for the AL - will be determined through a combination of "Player Ballot" choices and selections made by the two All-Star managers - AL skipper Ned Yost of the defending World Series Champion Royals and NL manager Terry Collins of the New York Mets.

Following the announcement of the American League and National League All-Star rosters, fans will begin voting to select the final player for each League's 34-man roster via the 2016 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote. Fans will cast their votes from a list of five players from each League over the balloting period. Now in its 15th season with nearly 600 million votes cast, fans again will be able to make their Final Vote selections on MLB.com, Club sites and their mobile devices.

This year's final phase of All-Star Game voting again will have fans participating in the official voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, fans can vote exclusively at MLB.com and the 30 Club sites - online or via their mobile devices - with the 2016 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote, and their collective voice will represent 20 percent of the official vote determining this year's recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy. 

MLB All-Star Week includes the MLB All-Star Game presented by MasterCard at Petco Park (July 12th), Gatorade All-Star Worktout Day featuring the T-Mobile Home Run Derby (July 11th), All-Star Sunday featuring the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game and All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game (July 10th), All-Star FanFest at the San Diego Convention Center (July 8th-12th), plus a lineup of additional events taking place around the city. The 87th Midsummer Classic will be televised nationally by FOX Sports; in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS; and worldwide by partners in more than 160 countries. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information about MLB All-Star Week and to purchase tickets, please visit AllStarGame.com and follow @AllStarGame on social media.