Tough MLB All-Star Game road lies ahead for these 2 KC Royals stars

They're in the voting Finals, but winning will be hard.
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The first phase of fan voting for the 2024 MLB All-Star Game ended Thursday, and two KC Royals standouts garnered enough votes to qualify for the Finals.

Both catcher Salvador Perez, who's in the running for his ninth All-Star berth, and shortstop Witt, who could land his first, were second at their positions when first-stage voting cut off at Noon yesterday. Those finishes qualified them for the Finals; voting begins Sunday at Noon ET and concludes July 3 at the same time. None of the other seven Royals on the ballot made it.

But for Perez and Witt, time and voting restrictions complicate their chances and make their respective roes to coveted starting spots on the American League team pretty tough to hoe.

Making the Finals may not mean much for Salvador Perez and Bobby Witt Jr.

Advancing to the Finals, the official label for the second phase of fan voting, is certainly nothing to scoff at, but the road Perez and Witt are now on may be a dead end. Yes, they finished in the top two at their respective positions, which means they'll now vie against the top vote-getters at those spots to determine who starts against the National League in this year's July 16 All-Star Game at Texas.

But their chances to secure starting slots on manager Bruce Bochy's roster don't look particularly good.

That's because both Royals finished significantly behind the frontrunners in Phase 1. And even though the vote count resets to zero to begin the Finals, their Phase 1 ballot deficits suggest Perez and Witt may find themselves in second place again when all is said and done.

Perez finished over 1,362,000 votes behind first-place Baltimore backstop Adley Rutschman; both made last year's AL team as reserves. Perez's current stats — he's slashing .283/.352/.462 with 12 home runs and 47 RBI and has missed only three of the Royals' 83 games — compare favorably to Rutschman's 15 homers, 55 RBI, and .300/.351/.479 line. And although he's showing some signs of breaking out of it, Perez is in a prolonged slump during which his average has plummeted 72 points since the end of April, a skid that doesn't bode well for him at this point.

Phase 1 ended with Witt trailing Orioles' shortstop Gunnar Henderson by almost 1,250,000 votes. Both are having good seasons — Witt's line through Thursday is .310/.360/.533, and he's homered 12 times, driven in 53 runs, stolen 21 bases. and leads the AL in hits with 103. Henderson, last season's AL Rookie of the Year, is slashing .290/.387/.615 with 26 homers, 57 RBI, and 13 steals.

Because those Phase 1 vote totals now zero out and the two-player competition starts anew Sunday, Perez and Witt aren't out of things yet. But the wide margins Rutschman and Henderson posted in the first phase may foretell the ultimate results. Further complicating the two Royals' chances is the difference between Phase 1 and Finals balloting — while fans could vote several times a day in the former, they're limited to casting just one ballot per 24-hour period during the latter.

And the short voting window doesn't give Perez or Witt much time.

How things shake out for Perez and Witt will be revealed at 7 p.m. ET July 3 on ESPN. That's when final results are scheduled to be announced. All other spots on the AL and NL rosters will be selected after that via a hybrid system involving player votes and Commissioner's Office choices.

Fans can cast votes for Perez and Witt here when the Finals begin.

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