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PEDELTY BOX: All-star fan voting is silly ... but fun

Fan voting for all-star games is — and always has been — kind of silly.

When I was a young Friendly Neighborhood Sports Reporter, I remember there being a strong movement in Major League Baseball to eliminate fan voting altogether to prevent the All-Star Game from being thought of as a joke. Instead, as the years have gone on people slowly came to the realization (in baseball and pretty much all other major professional sports) that all-star games are, in fact, jokes, so there was no need to change the silly fan voting process after all.

Irony can be pretty ironic sometimes.

All-star games are, however, still fun jokes from the fans' point of view (I, for one, usually enjoy them) and profitable jokes for leagues and team owners. I can't imagine when MLB brought back fan voting in the 1970s that anyone was thinking about building microtargeted marketing databases or capturing email addresses, but online voting pretty much has fans lined up to hand over information and provide website clicks up to five times a day for a month of the summer.

National League voting for the 89th Midsummer Classic in Washington, D.C., was released Monday — another marketing tactic to built fan excitement, vote totals and, most importantly, clicks, clicks, clicks — and as you'd likely expect, there are Cubs all over the leaderboard despite the team not currently having a leading vote-getter, the determining factor in positional player starters.

• Willson Contreras is second among National League catchers, behind San Francisco's Buster Posey, a three-time All-Star starter who will likely be a four-time starter despite the fact that Contreras is and has been better than Posey;

• Anthony Rizzo is second among NL first basemen, one spot behind Atlanta's Freddie Freeman but trailing by a more than 2-to-1 margin ... which is only fair seeing as Freeman has arguably been the best hitter in the National League and Rizzo's statline was more of a flatline until the past three weeks or so;

• Javy Baez is second at second, narrowly behind Braves second baseman Ozzie Albies in a race I strongly suspect Baez will ultimately win when my apology letter to him from last week's "Pedelty Box" goes viral;

• Addison Russell is third amongst NL shortstops, quite a ways behind the Giants' Brandon Crawford (who deserves this spot very, very much) and just behind the Braves' Dansby Swanson;

• Kris Bryant is second among Senior Circuit third basemen, trailing Colorado's Nolan Arenado by a couple hundred-thousand votes and needing a major June hot streak to challenge him for the starting spot;

• And out in the grass, Kyle Schwarber is seventh, Ben Zobrist eighth and Jason Heyward tenth among NL outfielders. Washington's Bryce Harper, Atlanta's Nick Markakis and L.A.'s Matt Kemp are the three top vote-getting OFs. Not a surprise since the Cubs outfield: 1) is the weakest past of the roster by a far, far margin; and 2) the Cubs don't play their best all-around outfielder (Albert Almora) nearly enough.

If you're a Cardinals fan, the first round of All-Star vote totals released has to be almost as disappointing as watching the Brewers and Cubs slug it out at the top of the NL Central. Only catcher Yadier Molina appears anywhere near the top of the leaderboards, coming in a distant fifth, and that's purely a reputation vote since he missed a month with an injury that was so gruesome to watch it very nearly ruined my Kentucky Derby day.

Weird fact (and a fun one if you're not a Cardinals fan): St. Louis hasn't had a starting position player in the All-Star Game since ... dramatic pause for effect ... Jhonny Peralta in 2015. The Cardinals almost certainly won't have one in 2018, either.

American League voting totals haven't been released yet as of this writing, but you don't have to be the Carnac the Magnificent to know that when that envelope does come out it's going to be filthy with Yankees, Red Sox and Astros, and not many — if any — White Sox. If you had to point to one White Sox position player, your gut might lead you to say first baseman Jose Abreu would be the likeliest candidate, but the truth is Tim Anderson at shortstop is probably outperforming him. Neither is likely to get much serious consideration, though.

Talented players + winning records + huge, excited fan bases tend to = stuffed ballot boxes.

Just look at all those Cubs.

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