MILWAUKEE -- With the All-Star Game online balloting in the final hours Thursday, Brewers manager Craig Counsell made the case that outfielder Ryan Braun, catcher Jonathan Lucroy and shortstop Jonathan Villar all have played well enough to be considered.
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"There's no question. Just look at where they rank against other players at their position," said Counsell. "You can make good cases for all those guys."
Braun ranked fifth among National League outfielders, and Lucroy was fifth among catchers in the most recent ballot update Monday. Villar did not rank among the top five at shortstop.
Here's the case for each player entering Thursday's finale against the Dodgers:
Braun's four-RBI night Wednesday extended his hitting streak to 10 games, bumped his OPS to .938 (second to Colorado's Carlos Gonzalez among NL outfielders) and his weighted runs created plus (wRC+) to 145, fourth best among NL outfielders. He leads the Brewers in OPS, batting average (.325) and slugging percentage (.557).
"I think I've played well enough to at least merit [All-Star] consideration, and I think that's everybody's goal," said Braun, who's been to six All-Star Games, including last year's in Cincinnati. "The goal every first half is to play well enough to at least deserve to be an All-Star, and we'll find out in a few days."
He's the NL's second-most productive catcher to Washington's Wilson Ramos. Lucroy entered Thursday with a 125 wRC+, an .864 OPS, a .303 batting average and 10 home runs, second to Ramos on all counts. He also had caught the second-most innings in the league (541 2/3), trailing Yadier Molina of the Cardinals, who has been jockeying with the Giants' Buster Posey for the lead in the fan balloting.
A surprise performer in his first season with the Brewers, Villar ranked third among NL shortstops with a wRC+ of 117, and he led shortstops with a .382 on-base percentage. He reached safely in 64 of his first 74 games. And he's a switch-hitter who leads the Majors with 26 stolen bases, valuable assets for an All-Star manager trying to win a game.
If they're not elected starters, those players have a chance to make the team via the player ballot. Brewers players and coaches, including Counsell, cast those votes over the weekend.
"I really think that guys take it pretty seriously," Counsell said. "The All-Star Game should be merit-based, it really should be. Just talking to a couple of the guys, they don't just fill it out without looking at something."
After the player ballot, NL manager Terry Collins of the Mets will select the final spots on the team. Counsell said he had a conversation with Collins about the Brewers' All-Star Game contenders when the teams met at Miller Park earlier this month. The All-Star teams will be unveiled Tuesday at 6 p.m. CT during the "Esurance All-Star Selection Show" on ESPN. MLB.com will have full coverage of the teams after they are officially announced.
Following the roster unveilings, 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. That balloting will conclude at 3 p.m. CT on Friday, July 8.
On Tuesday, July 12, watch the 2016 All-Star Game presented by MasterCard live on FOX, as well as MLB.TV Premium (for authenticated subscribers), 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.
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.