MLB.com Columnist

Fred Zinkie

Picking fantasy-based NL All-Star lineup

Picking fantasy-based NL All-Star lineup

The 2017 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot is now live, and ballots are already coming in fast and furious.

Fans have many methods to fill out a 2017 Esurance MLB All-Star Ballot. Some choose their favorite players, while others look for established stars. A segment of voters are locked into their picks, and others will change their minds on a regular basis between now and June 29.

VOTE: Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot

But have you ever wondered what a ballot would look like if fans focused primarily on 2017 fantasy value? Well, wonder no more. Let's take a look at a fantasy-focused National League starting lineup.

J.T. Realmuto, catcher, Marlins
For the second consecutive year, Realmuto is primarily using a high batting average to make an impact in shallow leagues. But the 26-year-old could see his .310 average regress in the coming weeks due to the expected normalization of his .363 BABIP (.327 career mark). To retain this lofty ranking, Realmuto -- who has yet to swipe a base in 2017 -- will need to rediscover the wheels he displayed during a 12-steal effort last year.

Ryan Zimmerman, first baseman, Nationals
Zimmerman may be the biggest reason for the Nats' offensive surge, having produced a .393/.432/.820 slash line this season after a .218/.272/.370 showing a year ago. The 32-year-old has the advanced metrics to back up his hot start, ranking among the league leaders in average exit velocity (93.6 mph, per Statcast™) and hard-hit rate (45.8 percent). While owners still need to worry about his ability to stay healthy -- after all, he played 271 games combined from 2014-16 -- they should trust that Zimmerman will continue to be productive on a per-game basis.

Fantasy baseball buy-low options

Daniel Murphy, 2B/1B, Nationals
Murphy is the second of three Washington hitters on this list, having followed up his 2016 breakout season by hitting .331 with six homers and 30 RBIs across 136 at-bats this year. The 32-year-old ranks among the safest assets going forward on the strength of his outstanding plate skills, stellar supporting cast and durability. Murphy has participated in at least 130 games during each of the previous five seasons.

Kris Bryant, 3B/1B/OF, Cubs
The reigning National League MVP, Bryant has the mix of 2017 contributions and career-long success to edge out the Reds' Eugenio Suarez for this spot. The 25-year-old is behind his 2016 roundtripper pace -- hitting just seven homers across 137 at-bats this year -- but he has compensated for the dip in long balls by swiping four bases and logging a career-best .299 batting mark. Bryant should use his premium spot in a talented Cubs lineup to top the century mark in RBIs and runs scored for a second straight year, and his power should come around.

Chris Owings, SS/OF, D-backs
Owings is without a doubt the most surprising name on this ballot, as he went undrafted in many mixed leagues after hitting .277 with five homers and 21 steals across 466 plate appearances last season. Not surprisingly, he is also the best sell-high asset on this squad, due to the expected regression of his 21.7 percent HR/FB rate and .372 BABIP. Still, Owings could use his plus speed, multi-position eligibility and membership in a strong D-backs lineup -- which ranks sixth in baseball with 169 runs scored -- to be a shallow-league asset throughout 2017.

Zinkie's AL ASG fantasy ballot

Bryce Harper, outfielder, Nationals
With an astonishing .372/.496/.717 slash line to this point in '17, Harper has eliminated any concerns stemming from his relatively disappointing 2016 season. The 24-year-old also ranks among the Major League leaders in runs scored (37), RBIs (29), walks (28) and home runs (10). And though he hasn't stolen a base yet, he retains the potential to produce a sizable steals total after swiping 21 bags a year ago.

Eric Thames, OF/1B, Brewers
Considered one of the biggest boom-or-bust picks in 2017 drafts, Thames boomed his way to a spot on this prestigious list. The slugger has followed up three stellar seasons in the Korea Baseball Organization (124 homers, 382 RBIs, .349 average) with a .333 average and 13 homers across 117 at-bats this year. With a solid 20-to-30 BB/K ratio and a .403 expected wOBA, per Statcast™, Thames is showing signs that he can carry his hot start across a full season.

Charlie Blackmon, outfielder, Rockies
Blackmon has surprised some observers by following up his power growth in 2016 (29 homers) with eight homers across his initial 143 at-bats this year. The Rockies' speedy leadoff man has been so good at the dish (.301/.344/.601 slash line) that he qualified for this list despite tallying only two steals so far. Blackmon could become one of the top 10 overall fantasy assets by continuing his strong work at the plate and regularly flashing the fleet feet that he used to compile 88 steals from '14-16.

Fantasy players to stash

Fans may cast votes for starters at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- on computers, tablets and smartphones -- exclusively online using the 2017 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot until Thursday, June 29, at 11:59 p.m. ET. On smartphones and tablets, fans can also access the ballot via the MLB.com At Bat and MLB.com Ballpark mobile apps. Vote up to five times in any 24-hour period for a maximum of 35 ballots cast.

Following the announcement of the 2017 All-Star starters, reserves and pitchers, fans should return to MLB.com and cast their 2017 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote for the final player on each league's All-Star roster. Then on Tuesday, July 11, while watching the 2017 All-Star Game presented by MasterCard live on FOX, fans may visit MLB.com to submit their choices for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet with the 2017 MLB All-Star Game MVP Vote.

The 88th Midsummer Classic, at Marlins Park in Miami, 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, while MLB Network, MLB.com and SiriusXM will have 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.

Fred Zinkie is the lead fantasy baseball writer for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FredZinkieMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.