MLB.com Columnist

Mike Petriello

Belt, Saunders on top in initial Final Vote update

Interactive map helps break down where players draw support

Belt, Saunders on top in initial Final Vote update

The 2016 All-Star teams were announced on Tuesday, but rosters aren't finalized just yet. Balloting is now underway for the Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote, which allows fans to select one additional player for each league through 4 p.m. ET on Friday. The initial standings were released on Wednesday, with Toronto's Michael Saunders and San Francisco's Brandon Belt in the lead. George Springer is second behind Saunders in the American League, followed by Dustin Pedroia, Ian Kinsler and Evan Longoria. Behind Belt is Starling Marte, then Trevor Story and Jake Lamb ahead of Ryan Braun.

Cast your Esurance MLB Final Vote now

On Wednesday, Kinsler went 3-for-4 with three runs in the Tigers' win over the Tribe, while Saunders delivered a go-ahead run-scoring single in the eighth as the Blue Jays edged the Royals. Not to be outdone, the Rays' Longoria banged out three hits in a loss to the Angels and Belt tripled in a run during and hit his NL-leading 27th double as the Giants topped the Rockies. Lamb crushed his 20th homer in the D-backs' loss to the Padres.

Fans can also look at the county-by-county breakdown using our interactive map, which shows where fans are being supported. As you'd expect, each player is performing well in and around their home city, but there are a few interesting trends beyond that. Here are a few from each league:

AMERICAN LEAGUE
The North remembers. Saunders, who was born in British Columbia and grew up dreaming of playing for the Blue Jays, is the obvious choice among Canadiens, but what's more interesting is simply by how much he's winning. Toronto's left fielder has received 98.7 percent of the Canadian vote, with none of the other four players receiving even one percent. Think about how impressive that is in today's world; you couldn't get 98.7 percent of people to agree that the sky is blue or that puppies are adorable. At this rate, Saunders may be the next prime minister.

Red Sox Nation is strong. Springer was born in New Britain, Conn., went to high school in Avon, Conn., and attended the University of Connecticut in Storrs. In just his third season in the bigs, he's already rocketing up the "best hitter from Connecticut" charts, with stars like Mo Vaughn and A.J. Pollock squarely in his sights. Springer is a proud son of the Constitution State, is the point here… and yet there's not a single county in the state, not even his home Hartford County, where he tops Pedroia. There's not one where he's even close. The Red Sox were a part of New England long, long before Springer, apparently.

Texas forever. Despite not winning at home, Springer is second in the initial Final Vote standings, thanks to a near-sweep of the Texas and Louisiana counties bordering Houston. But when looking at the counties in and around Dallas -- including the counties of Dallas, Collin, Denton and Ellis -- the leader is Kinsler, who was drafted by the Rangers in 2003 and starred for Texas from 2006-13. (Springer is ever so slightly ahead in Tarrant County, where Globe Life Park is physically located.) And why not? Kinsler owns basically every second base record in Rangers history, with all due respect to Julio Franco and Bump Wills. Of course they still love him.

 

Kinsler a Final Vote candidate

NATIONAL LEAGUE
A united California. It goes without saying that the Giants and Dodgers are longtime rivals dating back decades and thousands of miles away, when the two shared New York City. So while it's entirely expected that Belt would be leading the voting in the Bay Area and the surrounding counties in California, Oregon and Nevada, it's at least somewhat surprising that he's sweeping all of Southern California, too. You'd think that Dodgers fans would be thrilled to keep a Giant out of the game. You'd think that Braun fans from his home county (Los Angeles County) would keep him in mind. Instead, it's all Belt, all the time.

Marte's international push. Unlike the other nine members of the Final Vote, Marte did not attend an American high school or college, since he grew up in the Dominican Republic. That doesn't mean that he's not getting support outside his team's base of Pittsburgh, however. According to data from the 2010 Census, the four counties with the highest population of Dominicans in America were all in and around New York City, an area with few ties to the Pirates. Marte is winning three of them handily, with Trevor Story leading in Queens County. Of course, Marte is also winning counties in North Dakota, Maine and Utah. The best takeaway here may be that everyone, everywhere loves Starling Marte.

Marte an NL Final Vote candidate

Lamb lagging at home. Lamb leads the National League in slugging percentage (.617) and is having an even better season than his far more heralded teammate, Paul Goldschmidt, though a stacked third-base ballot led by Kris Bryant, Matt Carpenter and Nolan Arenado kept him off the initial roster. As you'd expect, he's sweeping all of the counties of Arizona right now, along with a few on the western edge of New Mexico. Yet in his home state of Washington, where he starred at Bishop Blanchet High School before the University of Washington, he's leading just four counties (and is tied with Marte in Grant County). Belt, by comparison, has eight. Marte has four plus the tie. 

Fans can vote for the 2016 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote until 4 p.m. ET on Friday. The winners, as chosen exclusively by online fan voting totals, will be announced during a Final Vote-themed telecast of "MLB Now" featuring commentary from political analyst Jeff Greenfield, live on MLB Network and MLB.com from 4-5 p.m. ET. MLB Network will provide extensive coverage across all of its studio programming during the Final Vote, including interviews with the candidates, frequent updates, heat maps indicating the cities where votes are being cast for each candidate, news on player and club campaigns and a running countdown clock leading up to the announcement.

Baseball fans have cast nearly 600 million online votes for Final Vote candidates since the program's inception in 2002. In addition to MLB.com and the official club websites, fans can use their mobile devices to cast votes at MLB.com/vote or via text message. To receive the ballot, text the word "VOTE" to 89269. To vote for a specific player, fans can text their choice to 89269. EXAMPLE: Text "A3" to vote for AL Player 3 or "N3" to vote for NL Player 3. Message and data rates may apply. Text "STOP" to end and "HELP" for information. Mobile voting in Canada also is available and fans should text their choices to 101010.

For the fifth consecutive year, the Final Vote will include social balloting, as Twitter support for the 10 candidates over the last six hours of balloting will count toward their vote totals. From 10 a.m.-4 p.m. ET on Friday, any tweet that includes a designated player hashtag will be tabulated as part of the official vote total used to determine the winners.

On Tuesday, 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.

Mike Petriello is an analyst for MLB.com and the host of the Statcast podcast. He has previously written for ESPN Insider and FanGraphs. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.