Lindor takes early AS lead for AL shortstop

Eight other Indians players also in the mix for All-Star starts

Lindor takes early AS lead for AL shortstop

CLEVELAND -- Any fans who might not have been familiar with the Indians' players got a good look at the team during last year's World Series. Cleveland embraced the national stage, cruised to an American League pennant and then pushed the Cubs to the limit in a memorable Fall Classic.

Based on the first round of the 2017 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot results, which were released for the AL on Wednesday, fans are quite familiar with the Tribe now. A first-time All-Star a year ago, Francisco Lindor paced all AL shortstops in voting, and each of the other positions had an Indians player within the revealed rankings. A year ago, they had no players listed in the first round of voting results.

"We all definitely appreciate it, what the fans are doing for us, trying to get us out there," Lindor said. "We don't take it for granted. We've seen it this year, the fans have come out and supported us day in and day out, whether it's at home, but also on the road. There has been a group of Indians fans everywhere we go, and that's always special."

Last season, Lindor not only made his first All-Star team, but he picked up both Platinum and Gold Glove Awards for his work at shortstop. With a homer in Wednesday's 3-1 loss to the A's, the switch-hitter has elevated his offense, posting an .886 OPS with 12 home runs. If he were to finish first in voting, Lindor would be the first Indians player to start for the AL via fan balloting since 2001 (Juan Gonzalez).

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Lindor (602,238 votes) currently holds a substantial lead over Houston shortstop Carlos Correa (253,518), and the Indians' shortstop boasted the third-highest vote total overall. Only Angels outfielder Mike Trout (776,937) and Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge (730,438) had more votes among AL players.

First baseman Carlos Santana (third), second baseman Jason Kipnis (third), third baseman Jose Ramirez (third), catcher Yan Gomes (fifth) and designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion (second) each ranked within the Top 5 at his respective position in the first AL voting results. Michael Brantley (fourth), Lonnie Chisenhall (eighth) and Abraham Almonte (ninth) were among the Top 15 outfielders revealed. Brantley was fewer than 4,000 votes behind Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts for third place.

Due to Cleveland winning the AL pennant last year, Indians manager Terry Francona will manage the AL in the upcoming Fall Classic.

"I'm really happy about that, and I hope that trend continues," Francona said of the early voting results. "The one thing that I never want to get lost for one second is, I get the honor of managing the All-Star Game, [but] the reason I get the honor is because of our players. I didn't do anything. I didn't hit. I didn't pitch. They did all this, and I'm going. So I hope we can take about 10 guys."

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.

"It was a very special moment," said Lindor, referring to making the All-Star team last summer. "Hopefully I get a chance to continue to be a part of it. That's the greatest event of the summer, and I would love to be there."

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.