Braves 1B Freddie Freeman broke the previous record for MLB.com's Final Vote contestants with 19.6 million to earn the last NL roster spot for the All-Star Game.
ATLANTA — Leading the National League East all season, Atlanta deserved to have more than one player in the All-Star Game.
Thanks to Braves fans everywhere and the Internet, the team will.
First baseman Freddie Freeman won the final vote for a spot in the National League roster, beating out Dodgers rookie outfielder Yasiel Puig, and will join Braves closer Craig Kimbrel in New York on Tuesday.
Freeman, who had initially given himself little chance of winning his first All-Star spot, received a record 19.7 million votes in the five-day balloting that ended Thursday.
“I didn't know people knew about me,” said Freeman, who is hitting .307 in his third full major league season. “I try to stay low and just play ball.”
But Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez calls Freeman the Braves’ first-half MVP and his teammates obviously feel the same way, helping rally support for their clutch cleanup hitter.
“I have people jump on my side like this is incredible,” Freeman said. “I can’t thank the fans enough.”
Freeman went into Thursday night’s game against Cincinnati hitting .397 with runners in scoring position and had nine game-winning hits among his 56 RBIs.
“It shouldn’t have had to come down to a final vote,” Gonzalez said.
Puig had been considered the heavy favorite to gain the NL spot, but Freeman jumped to a surprising lead and held it as Twitter voting became part of the process on Thursday.
“I’m speechless,” Freeman said shortly after being informed by Braves general manager Frank Wren that he was an all-star. “It’s incredible.”
The first call Freeman made was to his father. His mother died when he was 10.
“I think he was probably one of the only people in California that voted for me,” Freeman said of his dad, who will accompany him to New York.
Following Freeman and Puig in the NL voting were Hunter Pence of the Giants, Ian Desmond of the Nationals and Adrian Gonzalez of the Dodgers.
Voting for the final spot on each all-star team began in 2002, with Andruw Jones winning out in the National League the first year.