Phase 2 of All-Star voting didn’t favor the Cubs. But take a step back, and that may be in the team's best interest.
Despite having five All-Star ballot finalists, the Cubs didn’t claim any starting spots on the National League squad in ESPN’s All-Star reveal show on Thursday.
Pitchers and reserves are chosen in a separate process – by player ballot and commissioner’s office selection. So, the Cubs will still likely have a presence in the All-Star game. Closer Craig Kimbrel and super utility man Kris Bryant are strong candidates.
The fewer players the Cubs have in the All-Star game, however, the more rest the embattled roster will get during the four-day break in schedule.
All five of the Cubs’ finalists have dealt with injuries this year, in a season marred by a league-wide spike.
“Injuries, adversity, these are things that come up during the season that you’ve got to try to overcome,” Cubs manager David Ross said this week. “It stinks for the guys that get hurt. But as far as Major League Baseball is concerned, we’ve got to keep moving forward and finding ways to win and try to handle the moments as we can. They’re just other opportunities for the next guy up.”
Outfielder Joc Pederson spent a couple weeks on the injured list in late April, with left wrist tendonitis. Shortstop Javy Báez has dealt with hamstring and back tightness this season. Most recently, he missed a handful of games with two different injuries to his right thumb.
Bryant (right side soreness) and first baseman Anthony Rizzo (back tightness) missed games in the Cubs’ most recent series at Milwaukee, and their timelines to return are uncertain.
MLB’s voting process, which changed in 2019, worked against Bryant, who led voting among NL third basemen in Phase 1. Now, the first phase determines the finalists, and the votes don’t roll over to the second phase.
In Phase 2, which determines the starters, Bryant came in third with 26 percent of the vote. He trailed winner Nolan Arenado (40 percent) and runner-up Justin Turner (34 percent).
Báez finished second among the NL shortstop finalists (19 percent), but Padres star Fernando Tatís Jr. ran away with the starting spot (64 percent).
Rizzo received 18 percent of the vote, with reigning NL MVP Freddie Freeman (48 percent) voted in to start at first base. Contreras also collected 18 percent of his position group’s vote, with Giants veteran Buster Posey (58 percent) claiming the start.
Pederson (No. 6, 7 percent) wasn’t among the top 3 NL outfield vote-getters, but a former Cubs fan favorite was: Reds right fielder Nick Castellanos (18 percent). Braves slugger Ronald Acuña Jr. and Reds mainstay Jesse Winker (16 percent) round out the NL outfield starters.