Harper moved up from third, but only because Chipper Jones, the previous leader, was named to the team as a replacement for injured Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp. Harper, 19, is one of the most captivating players in the league, but in Freese he is up against a reigning World Series MVP backed by one of the most rabid fan bases in baseball.
The Nationals may hope Freese holds on to his lead. Harper has been playing through nagging back soreness. For a 19-year-old rookie, a four-day break would probably be a more welcome tune-up for the second half than serving as the focus for one of baseball’s showcase events.
Harper is hitting .276/.349/.478 compared to Freese’s .286/.334/.479.
Braves outfielder Michael Bourn ranks third in the voting, and Diamondbacks second baseman Aaron Hill is fourth.