COMMENTARY | The Atlanta Braves' Justin Upton enjoyed the most votes for any National League outfielder when the first All-Star ballot update was released, yet, since then, his slide in production at the plate has been reflected in the fans' support for him at the polls. Can he hang on to his slim lead for the final NL starting outfield spot?
In the final All-Star balloting update, Upton ranked No. 3 among outfielders on the senior circuit. He is ahead of the Washington Nationals' Bryce Harper by just over 15,000 votes. The MLB.com online polls will close at 11:59 p.m. ET on July 4, so this race has already made the turn for the home stretch.
If Braves fans want to see one of their players represent Atlanta as a starter at the Midsummer Classic, they will need to help Upton solidify his All-Star nod. After Upton, only third baseman Chris Johnson ranks as high as No. 4 at any position, so it will be an Upton-or-nothing situation when starters are announced on July 6.
Whether Upton is truly deserving of an All-Star selection can be debated back and forth. He started the season leading the NL in home runs as he tallied 14 round-trippers through May 31. However, Upton's play hit a skid in June when he belted only one dinger with eight RBIs and a .226 average.
Unfortunately, Harper is a very popular player, and came back from injury strong when he immediately went yard in the Nats' 10-5 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on July 2. It will certainly be a challenge to stave off Harper's All-Star ascension, but Upton has been looking to make a strong case by beginning to break out of his slump. In Upton's last six games, he has 9 hits, four RBIs and a .375 average. If Upton is not able to hang on to his selection, Atlanta may find themselves very deficient in the All-Star department this season.
Freddie Freeman certainly has a case for a reserve spot on the team thanks to his impressive first half numbers of a .310 average with 9 home runs and 54 RBIs, but his only route to the game will be through the players' and coaches' selections. Freeman has been criminally overlooked at first base with only 1.5 million votes -- good enough to rank him No.5 at the position.
Mike Minor also has a chance to make it on the team as a starting pitcher. He began the season red-hot with a 7-2 record, but he has only won one game in his last five starts and has seen his ERA raise slightly, from 2.48 to 2.98. He may be a tough-luck loser in what has become a very competitive class of National League pitchers from which manager Bruce Bochy can select.
Realistically, if Upton looses the lead for the final starting position, the Braves may find themselves in the very rare position of being a first-place team with only the league-mandated one team representative. Craig Kimbrel has turned in another fine first half of the season as he has racked up 23 saves with a microscopic 1.48 ERA. He ranks No. 2 in the National League in saves behind the Pittsburgh Pirates' closer, Jason Grilli (27).
Get to the polls, Braves fans!
(as of July 2)
Yadier Molina, Cardinals: 5,093,645
Buster Posey, Giants: 4,674,847
John Buck, Mets: 1,446,565
Miguel Montero, Diamondbacks: 997,791
Brian McCann, Braves: 997,322
Joey Votto, Reds: 3,622,608
Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks: 3,035,114
Allen Craig, Cardinals: 2,525,399
Brandon Belt, Giants: 1,804,152
Freddie Freeman, Braves: 1,494,604
Brandon Phillips, Reds: 3,411,839
Matt Carpenter, Cardinals: 3,186,423
Marco Scutaro, Giants: 3,142,783
Daniel Murphy, Mets: 1,598,297
Chase Utley, Phillies: 1,355,750
David Wright, Mets: 4,452,282
Pablo Sandoval, Giants: 3,610,096
David Freese, Cardinals: 2,376,121
Chris Johnson, Braves: 1,234,095
Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals: 1,072,563
Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies: 4,072,834
Brandon Crawford, Giants: 2,383,248
Jean Segura, Brewers: 2,072,083
Pete Kozma, Cardinals: 1,867,781
Andrelton Simmons, Braves: 1,192,066
Carlos Beltran, Cardinals: 5,013,806
Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies: 2,928,606
Justin Upton, Braves: 2,917,659
Bryce Harper, Nationals: 2,902,393
Matt Holliday, Cardinals: 2,697,608
Andrew McCutchen, Pirates: 2,510,614
Hunter Pence, Giants: 2,379,606
Ryan Braun, Brewers: 2,331,774
Angel Pagan, Giants: 2,016,370
Shin-Soo Choo, Reds: 1,960,385
Jon Jay, Cardinals: 1,825,513
Carlos Gomez, Brewers: 1,746,318
Gregor Blanco, Giants: 1,717,194
Jay Bruce, Reds: 1,454,721
Domonic Brown, Phillies: 1,427,696
Anthony Schreiber is a freelance sportswriter. He has penned articles for a variety of online publications and magazines.
- Sports & Recreation
- Justin Upton
- Bryce Harper