MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Ramos offers more proof of ASG worthiness with big HR

Bryce on track in latest ballot update; Murphy, catcher need boost

Ramos offers more proof of ASG worthiness with big HR

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals' Wilson Ramos had been one of the best catchers in the National League and during Wednesday's 4-3 loss to the Dodgers, he showed why he belongs on the All-Star team.

Ramos drove in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning off reliever Pedro Baez, sending a 1-1 pitch into the left-field bleachers for a 3-2 lead.

Cast your Esurance All-Star ballot for #ASGWorthy players

"I was trying to be real aggressive," Ramos said. "He has a great fastball. He tried to go up and in to back me off the plate and use his other secondary pitches. He followed up with another fastball, which I fouled off. I was looking for that fastball knowing he has a good fastball. He left a changeup [over the plate] and I was able to get a good swing out of it."

Entering Friday's action against the Brewers, Ramos has hit a career-high .330 with 12 home runs, 39 RBIs and has thrown out his share of runners trying to steal. Yet Ramos is third in the latest 2016 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot. Ramos was 306,434 votes behind the Cardinals' Yadier Molina, who is in first place, while Giants' Buster Posey was 231,021 ahead of Ramos.

Manager Dusty Baker showed how much he feels about Ramos' game. Starting with Wednesday's game, the skipper decided to move Ryan Zimmerman down from fifth to sixth and move Ramos to the fifth spot in the lineup behind Daniel Murphy. Since June 1, Ramos has been one of Washington's hottest hitters, going 22-for-65 [.338] with six home runs and 14 RBIs. During that same period, Zimmerman is hitting .190 with two home runs and eight RBIs. Baker was thinking about making this switch for a while, but was reluctant to pull the trigger because Ramos is prone to hit into a double play.

"I've been thinking [about the lineup switch] for a couple of weeks," Baker said. "I called in Zim before [the game] and I said, 'Hey, man, I have the ... best hitters in the league hitting back to back."

Baker's faith in Ramos was prophetic with the big home run on Wednesday.

Murphy continues to stay hot at the plate, leading the NL in batting average (.347), hits, total bases, slugging percentage and multihit games. Murphy was second among NL second basemen with 1,572,890 votes, which was 483,232 behind Cubs second baseman Ben Zobrist.

How good is Murphy with the bat? Whenever teammates are in slumps, 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 (1,824,808) of the trio, behind Fowler (2,003,115).

The NL All-Star team will have eight fan-elected starters via the fan balloting program, while the AL All-Star team will have nine fan-elected starters (including a designated hitter). 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, Ned Yost from the Royals and Terry Collins from the Mets.

National League All-Star voting update

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.

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.