The first MLB All-Star ballot update was released on Monday, and it’s a true testament to just how much of a collective team effort this impressive Brewers season has been so far – or a harbinger of an impending regression, or reflection of lagging fan support, or evidence of small-market inequity – that they had just two names on the list.
Despite the best record in the National League when the initial results were announced – Milwaukee fell 0.5 games behind the Cubs after last night’s loss – the club didn’t have a single position player in the top five of online voting. The Brewers’ two newest regulars, outfielders Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain, were the only players ranking among the leaders, with Yelich at No. 11 and Cain 15th.
Milwaukee will likely get some recognition for its stalwart bullpen – lights-out lefty Josh Hader seems like a lock, and fellow reliever Jeremy Jeffress is arguably deserving – but pitchers aren’t chosen for the All-Star Game through the fan vote. Without a high-profile success story like Eric Thames’ surprise first half last year, with Ryan Braun’s luster largely lost, with Travis Shaw productive but not prolific, with Orlando Arcia among the worst offensive starters in the league, the Brewers just don’t have the attention-grabbers to garner big votes for the Midsummer Classic.
And that’s fitting for this young group of homer-hitting, base-stealing overachievers, winning with grit, aggressiveness and bullpen pitching – who have the second-best record in the NL (39-27) despite a run differential (plus-37) that ranks sixth in the league.
The Brewers and the Diamondbacks are the only NL teams that are at least .500 but don’t have a single player among the top five (top 10 for outfielders) in voting.
At 3.3 wins above replacement, Cain is tied for the league lead with Atlanta first baseman Freddie Freeman – the NL’s leading vote-getter – in WAR. A popular veteran having a strong season, he’s a good bet to be selected. Yelich is among the National League outfield leaders in several batting categories. But both need a strong push from Brew Crew fans to have a chance to appear in the 89th All-Star Game on July 17 at Nationals Park in Washington.
Here is the full first batch of voting results:
Three @Braves, including NL leading vote-getter @FreddieFreeman5, are among the current NL leaders in the first @CampingWorld MLB All-Star Ballot update. Visit https://t.co/Jd6REEkFYI to vote. #MLBVote pic.twitter.com/kam5L9iFHa — MLB Communications (@MLB_PR) June 11, 2018
Born in Milwaukee but a product of Shorewood High School (go ‘Hounds!) and Northwestern University (go ‘Cats!), Jimmy never knew the schoolboy bliss of cheering for a winning football, basketball or baseball team. So he ditched being a fan in order to cover sports professionally - occasionally objectively, always passionately. He's lived in Chicago, New York and Dallas, but now resides again in his beloved Brew City and is an ardent attacker of the notorious Milwaukee Inferiority Complex.
After interning at print publications like Birds and Blooms (official motto: "America's #1 backyard birding and gardening magazine!"), Sports Illustrated (unofficial motto: "Subscribe and save up to 90% off the cover price!") and The Dallas Morning News (a newspaper!), Jimmy worked for web outlets like CBSSports.com, where he was a Packers beat reporter, and FOX Sports Wisconsin, where he managed digital content. He's a proponent and frequent user of em dashes, parenthetical asides, descriptive appositives and, really, anything that makes his sentences longer and more needlessly complex.
Jimmy appreciates references to late '90s Brewers and Bucks players and is the curator of the unofficial John Jaha Hall of Fame. He also enjoys running, biking and soccer, but isn't too annoying about them. He writes about sports - both mainstream and unconventional - and non-sports, including history, music, food, art and even golf (just kidding!), and welcomes reader suggestions for off-the-beaten-path story ideas.