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July 10, 2017 - Source: Mark Brown/Getty Images North America

Max Rosenfeld

A Sneak Peek at the 2018 All-Star Ballot

The ballots are coming! The ballots are coming! With All-Star season right around the corner, it’s time to take a first look at who may crack the ballot in 2018.

Although the official ballot for the 2018 All-Star Game at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. is not yet available, it’s time we begin considering who might be representing the American and National leagues in the Midsummer Classic. Listed below are the most deserving candidates at each position a quarter of the way through the season.

National League

First Base: Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves

.317/.427/.567, 9 home runs, 31 RBI’s

This spot could easily go to Brandon Belt of the San Francisco Giants, but it’s hard to ignore Freeman’s production given the success of his club. The Braves are in first place in the National League East thanks large in part to Freeman’s veteran presence in the middle of the lineup.

Second Base: Ozzie Albies, Atlanta Braves

.277/.317/.581, 13 home runs, 33 RBI’s

You’d like to see a slightly higher on-base percentage, but the power numbers that the 21-year-old leadoff hitter has produced are eye-popping. Albies is Atlanta’s tone-setter and will get some MVP attention if he keeps it up.

Shortstop: Trea Turner, Washington Nationals

.262/.368/.407, 5 home runs, 13 stolen bases

Paul DeJong of the St. Louis Cardinals is likely the most deserving of this spot, but a fractured hand pushes the speedy Turner to the top of the list. Turner’s .368 OBP leads all National League shortstops.

Third Base: Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs

.305/.427/.583, 8 home runs, 24 RBI’s

Bryant will compete with Nolan Arenado of the Colorado Rockies for this spot, whose numbers are nearly identical to that of the Cubs slugger.

Outfield: Tommy Pham, St. Louis Cardinals

.321/.429/.547, 8 home runs, 8 stolen bases

Casual baseball fans will surely be introduced to Pham this summer. Pham is an explosive outfielder who hits for power and runs with above average speed. Quietly, he is one of the best players in the National League.

Outfield: Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals

.228/.390/.517, 13 home runs, 31 RBI’s

Don’t let Harper’s low batting average fool you — he has been an absolute force for the Nationals thus far. Harper’s still getting on base at an All-Star rate and his .194 BABIP suggests that he has simply been the product of some bad luck. Harper will surely have the chance to shine as the face of this year’s All-Star game in his home ballpark.

Outfield: Odubel Herrera, Philadelphia Phillies

.353/.420/.558, 7 home runs, 30 RBI’s

Herrera just concluded a streak in which he reached base an incredible 45 games in a row.

Catcher: Yasmani Grandal, Los Angeles Dodgers

.271/.373/.496, 7 home runs, 27 RBI’s

Who would’ve thought Grandal would be the lone Dodger in the All-Star starting lineup? Grandal has been one of the lone bright spots for Los Angeles thus far, though Willson Contreras of the Cubs could very well earn the nod as the NL’s backstop.

Pitcher: Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals

7-1, 1.78 ERA, 14.25 K/9

Scherzer has been absolutely magnificent for the Nationals this season and is the early favorite to win his third consecutive Cy Young award. He is the fastest pitcher ever to record 100 strikeouts in a season.

Pitcher: Jacob deGrom, New York Mets

4-0, 1.75 ERA, 12.10 K/9

For all the talk surrounding Noah Syndergaard, deGrom has actually been the true ace of the Mets. DeGrom has dominated the competition and is tied with Scherzer for the league lead in FIP (1.84).

Pitcher: Aaron Nola, Philadelphia Phillies

6-1, 1.99 ERA, 52% GB-rate

Nola is the only other pitcher with an ERA under 2.00 in the National League, speaking to the amount of pitching talent in the NL East.

American League

First Base: C.J. Cron, Tampa Bay Rays

.285/.339/.517, 11 home runs, 27 RBI’s

This is a spot that will likely yield intense competition as we get closer to the halfway mark, but Cron has raked to this point. His 1.0 WAR is tied for the AL lead among first basemen.

Second Base: Jed Lowrie, Oakland Athletics

.328/.394/.559, 9 home runs, 37 RBI’s

Lowrie is currently lapping the field in this position. He is a key reason the A’s are only 2.5 games out of first place with a 24-22 record in the competitive West.

Shortstop: Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles

.347/.424/.665, 14 home runs, 42 RBI’s

In his first full season at shortstop, Machado is the early leader to start the All-Star game. Other players such as Francisco Lindor, Carlos Correa, and Andrelton Simmons are worthy of consideration, but Machado has been by far the most productive offensive player. His defense will continue to improve as he becomes accustomed to manning shortstop full time.

Third Base: Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians

.302/.392/.615, 13 home runs 31 RBI’s

Ramirez overcame a slow start to become the most productive player at his position in the American League.

Outfield: Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox

.369/.439/.767, 15 home runs, 11 stolen bases

To this point, Betts is the early favorite for the American League MVP. He is excellent in every phase of the game, providing impact as a power hitter, base stealer, and elite defender.

Outfield: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

.296/.433/.636, 14 home runs, 28 RBI’s

Still, Trout’s success has not been overshadowed. It will be a captivating race to see who takes home the AL MVP crown when it’s all said and done.

Outfield: Aaron Judge, New York Yankees

.289/.421/.560, 11 home runs, 35 RBI’s

Somehow, Betts and Trout’s power numbers make Judge’s seem insignificant. But Judge has only improved in his sophomore season and should heat up even more as the weather becomes more favorable.

Designated Hitter: J.D. Martinez, Boston Red Sox

.339/.392/.649, 15 home runs, 38 RBI’s

Martinez’s 15 home runs are tied for the Major League lead.

Catcher: Gary Sanchez, New York Yankees

.225/.323/.549, 12 home runs, 33 RBI’s

It’s been a hot and cold beginning for Sanchez, but his entire body of work suggests that he is far better than any other catcher in the American League.

Pitcher: Justin Verlander, Houston Astros

5-2, 1.05 ERA, 90.5% LOB percentage

At 35 years old, Verlander is once again the best starting pitcher in baseball.

Pitcher: Gerrit Cole, Houston Astros

4-1, 1.75 ERA, 13.57 K/9

Cole is finally realizing his potential as a true ace in Houston, making the Astros the favorite once again in the American League.

Pitcher: Luis Severino, New York Yankees

7-1, 2.35 ERA, 47.8% GB-rate

Of all the Baby Bombers, Severino might just be the brightest star. The flamethrower has emerged as one of the premier starters in the game.

Main Photo: July 10, 2017 – Source: Mark Brown/Getty Images North America

Max is a student at Saint Joseph's University where he is a Communication Studies major. He is a contributing writer for Baseknock MLB and the host of the Payoff Pitch Podcast, which airs every Tuesday morning.

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