CLEVELAND: When the early voting results for the 2016 All-Star Game were released around this time a year ago, finding representatives from the Indians within the leaders at each position was a difficult task.
That isnít the case in 2017.
Major League Baseball released the first update for fan voting in this yearís All-Star Game on Wednesday, and the Indians are well represented, boasting a player in the top five at each position. Only position players are listed, not pitchers.
Francisco Lindor has a substantial lead among American League shortstops with 602,238 votes. He leads by roughly 350,000 votes over Houstonís Carlos Correa, who beat out Lindor for rookie of the year in 2015. Lindor entered Wednesday nightís game hitting .276 with 11 home runs and 24 RBI.
Edwin Encarnacion (second, designated hitter), Jason Kipnis (third, second basemen), Carlos Santana (third, first basemen), Jose Ramirez (third, third basemen), Michael Brantley (fourth, outfielders), Yan Gomes (fifth, catchers), Lonnie Chisenhall (eighth, outfielders) and Abraham Almonte (ninth, outfielders) are all represented.
Itís a stark contrast to the voting results last year regarding the Indians.
ďWe all definitely appreciate it, what the fans are doing for us, trying to get us out there,Ē Lindor said. ďItís definitely cool. We all appreciate it. We donít take it for granted.
ďWeíve seen it this year ó the fans have come out and supported us day in and day out whether itís at home but also on the road. There has been a group of Indians fans everywhere we go, and thatís always special, as well as the fans from every one of our countries ó fans from Puerto Rico, the Dominican, here in the States. Itís representing everybody. Itís special and we definitely thank them.Ē
Lindor is very likely headed to Miami as an All-Star starter as long as he continues to warrant votes at that rate. Heís hoping to have some company.
ďHopefully, a group of us can get a private plane and go over there,Ē he said. ďWe canít get ahead of ourselves. We have to continue to play the game the right way. Weíre focusing on winning. Thatís what itís all about.Ē
The high voting turnout is likely, for the most part, powered by Indians fans turning out in greater numbers this season. Itís also likely in some way tied to the national exposure the Indians received last year during their run to the World Series. At that time, they had to shed their ďup-and-comingĒ label into a real contender.
ďWe set out to win every day. Thatís our No. 1 priority,Ē said Indians manager Terry Francona, who will manage the American League in the All-Star Game. ďBut Iím happy and Iím proud of, whether itís our fans, which Iím sure are doing some of the damage, and maybe because we played [in the World Series], so people watched our guys and realized they are really good players.
ďBut Iím really happy about that and I hope that trend continues. The one thing that I never want to get lost for one second is, I get the honor of managing the All-Star Game. The reason I get the honor is because of our players. I didnít do anything. I didnít hit. I didnít pitch. They did all this, and Iím going. So, I hope we can take about 10 guys.Ē
Ryan Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.