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An All-Star cast for Cubs could mean July influence on October

Kris Bryant

How many Cubs should make the National League All-Star team this year? Four? Five? Seven?

“There’s a lot of guys in here who deserve it,” said third baseman Kris Bryant, who’s on track for a second selection before he’s completed a start-to-finish full season in the big leagues.

The first All-Star balloting updates for the National League are due out Wednesday. And regardless of how many Cubs start – or even finish – in the top spot at their positions, the team with the best record in baseball might land more All-Stars than any Cubs team since the 2008 team had eight.

And the way Bryant sees it that should give the Cubs a disproportionate say in the game’s outcome, and the potentially valuable prize of home-field advantage in the MLB finals.

“In getting that first taste of the playoffs last year, for me, it played a big role just to play in front of your own fans, in your own stadium,” said Bryant, acknowledging the early date to be talking about All-Star selections — much less postseason issues.

“It’s huge,” he added, “and I remember [Giants and 2015 NL manager] Bruce Bochy saying it last year, talking to us [before the game]. Obviously, they won three World Series, and he was saying it’s huge. And I was sitting there, like, `yeah.’ But I didn’t know anything else. Then just getting to experience it, it is a big, big factor in the playoffs.”

The 97-win Cubs got as far as the National League Championship Series last season, playing without home-field advantage throughout the postseason.

Tuesday night’s starter, Jake Arrieta (9-0, 1.56 ERA), is an early contender to not only make his first All-Star team but to start the game. And the Cubs’ pitching staff has two more starters ranked in the top seven in league ERA, plus a dominant closer who could get consideration.

Among hitters, Ben Zobrist and Dexter Fowler rank 1-2 in the league in on-base percentage; Bryant and Anthony Rizzo entered Tuesday tied for second in RBIs.

“Especially given the season that we’ve had up to this point and as a team, I think you could expect to see more of us there,” Bryant said. “But it’s hard to think about it right now.”