Harper leads early All-Star voting, Murphy second at second base

PHILADELPHIA - The first round of National League All-Star voting was released this afternoon, and for the first time the Nationals have a legitimate shot of having two starters in the game.

Bryce Harper leads all NL outfielders early on, with 838,599 votes. Daniel Murphy, meanwhile, ranks second at second base with 488,468 votes.

Wilson Ramos, who is fifth among catchers with 209,949 votes, is the only other Nationals player to rank in the top five at his position so far.

Harper-100th-HR-Swing-Sidebar.jpgHarper is a three-time All-Star and two-time starter, having been voted in by fans in both 2013 and 2015, so his place atop the the list comes as no surprise. The reigning league MVP got off to a torrid start this season, winning NL Player of the Month honors in April, but he has struggled since and enters June with a .242 batting average (though still a .950 OPS that ranks sixth in the league).

Harper's lead over the second- and third-place vote-getters in the outfield is slim. The Cubs' Dexter Fowler has 797,160 votes to date, while the Mets' Yoenis Cespedes has 792,395. But the drop-off after that is steep, with fourth-place vote-getter Jason Heyward having received only 476,595 to date.

Murphy, meanwhile, trails Chicago's Ben Zobrist (732,519) by a healthy margin, but his torrid start to the season could help his cause over the next month of voting. Murphy currently leads all of baseball with a .397 batting average and leads the NL with a .634 slugging percentage and 1.062 OPS.

The Nationals have never had two starting position players in the All-Star Game. Other than Harper, only Alfonso Soriano in 2006 has ever been voted in by fans.

Ramos will have a tough time catapulting himself four slots up the depth chart among catchers, with Yadier Molina (517,825) and Buster Posey (439,239) likely to duke it out for the starting job next month in San Diego. But Ramos has a good chance of earning his first career All-Star selection if he keeps up his performance to date. He enters June hitting .327 with an .884 OPS and 33 percent caught-stealing rate.

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