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Last AL, NL spots up for grabs in Final Vote

Last AL, NL spots up for grabs in Final Vote play video for Last AL, NL spots up for grabs in Final Vote

Balloting is underway for the All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Experian, a 92-hour blitz in which unique campaign alliances will form, digital balloting records likely will be smashed and you will decide on a position player for the National League and a pitcher for the American League.

Managers Mike Matheny of the NL and John Farrell of the AL, in conjunction with Major League Baseball, have presented you with five nominees so you can decide the 34th and final roster spots for the 85th All-Star Game on July 15 at Target Field in Minnesota. Balloting will continue until 4 p.m. ET on Thursday, and the winners will be announced soon after on MLB.com.

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NL candidates include first baseman Justin Morneau of the Rockies, second baseman Anthony Rendon of the Nationals, first baseman Anthony Rizzo of the Cubs, third baseman Casey McGehee of the Marlins and left fielder Justin Upton of the Braves.

AL choices are all pitchers: left-hander Dallas Keuchel of the Astros, right-hander Corey Kluber of the Indians, right-hander Rick Porcello of the Tigers, right-hander Garrett Richards of the Angels and left-hander Chris Sale of the White Sox.

Last year's Final Vote winners were Freddie Freeman of the Braves and Steve Delabar of the Blue Jays, as fans submitted an unprecedented 79.2 million votes, surpassing the prior record of 68.6 million set in 2009. Fans also cast 10.2 million of those votes via text messaging.

Here is a closer look at this year's choices:

AL nominees

Dallas Keuchel: #VoteKeuchel (A1) -- If not for tough outings in his past three starts, it seemed likely he was headed onto the roster as a manager's reserve selection. Now it's up to the Final Vote. Keuchel is 8-5 with a 3.06 ERA and three complete games in 16 starts. He usually makes travel plans to go home to Oklahoma during the All-Star break, but he could postpone plans in case his campaign takes off here.

"I was a little surprised to even be mentioned," Keuchel said. "I was actually going to book a flight to go back home for the All-Star break, and I talked to my parents and they said, 'Just in case something happens, don't do it.' Sure enough, [Astros manager Bo Porter] told me I was going to be on the five finalists for the Final Vote."

Corey Kluber: #VoteKluber (A2) -- Timing can be everything, and the Indians righty just made a big statement at home against Kansas City on the day the Final Vote was announced. Following his win on Sunday, Kluber has the eighth-lowest ERA in the league at 2.86, also ranking among AL leaders in games started (T-first, 19), strikeouts (fourth, 137), strikeout-to-BB ratio (sixth, 4.61) and innings pitched (third, 125 2/3).

"It's an honor," Kluber said. "It's nice to be recognized, but ultimately, individual stuff is not what I'm shooting for. The ultimate goal is for the team to win."

Rick Porcello: #PickRick (A3) -- Porcello's 25-inning scoreless streak, which had included back-to-back shutouts, came to an end when he took the loss in Sunday night's game against the Rays that immediately followed his Final Vote appearance. Nevertheless, Porcello is the winningest pitcher on the ballot, with 11 victories -- second in the Majors only to the Yankees' Masahiro Tanaka.

"I'm very happy for my teammates that have made the team, and I'm honored to be included in the Final Vote," Porcello said after Sunday's game. "Lots of good pitchers out there. [Losing] doesn't take anything away from how well I've pitched in the first half."

Garrett Richards: #VoteGRich (A4) -- When you see a lot of game-note stats that end in "... since Nolan Ryan," you know the pitcher is having a good year. Richards entered his start Sunday against Houston with a 5-0 record, 1.49 ERA and 44 strikeouts over his previous six starts. His .818 winning percentage ranks fourth in the AL. He was leading the AL with a .194 batting average against (77/396), and ranked fourth in the Majors with an average of 0.33 homers allowed per nine innings. Richards will try to end the Angels' 0-for-5 skid in Final Vote competition.

"It's a little disappointing, but there's still a chance," Richards said. "I'm more concerned with the second half of baseball, to be honest with you. If it happens, it happens. It's an honor to be considered."

Chris Sale: #TargetSale (A5) -- He was the winning pitcher of last year's All-Star Game with two perfect innings in relief of starter Max Scherzer. Just think: Earlier this season, he missed a month and there was concern of possible Tommy John surgery ... and now he shows up on the Final Vote with an 8-1 record, a 0.87 WHIP and a complete-game victory over Seattle in his last outing after striking out 12 and walking none. Will it be a third straight All-Star trip and will he join Scott Podsednik, A.J. Pierzynski and Paul Konerko as White Sox winners in this competition?

"It is what it is; if it happens, awesome," said Sale, the 11th White Sox nominee, easily the most in Final Vote history. "For me, it's a win-win situation. Either you're going to the All-Star Game or you're getting to go hang out with your family for four straight days."

NL nominees

Casey McGehee: #VoteHitsMcGehee (N1) -- McGehee leads the NL in hits (108), is fifth in the NL in batting average (.320), is sixth in RBIs (53) and he leads the Majors in average with runners in scoring position (.398). Since June 4, his 45 hits are the most in the Majors. The Marlins third baseman has a 13-game hitting streak, and this past weekend's series against the Cardinals has spoken volumes for him. After hitting into a double play against Trevor Rosenthal to end Friday's game, he got Rosenthal a day later back with a game-tying single that led to a win.

"I think you're always disappointed when your guys put up great years and don't get recognized for it," Miami manager Mike Redmond said. "But I'm holding out hope that Casey gets in there. There are always a couple of guys that are right on the fence. Hopefully, this isn't the case with Casey and we find a way to get him in."

Justin Morneau: #VoteMorneau (N2) -- What a homecoming it could be at Target Field. Morneau was a Twin from 2003-13 and was selected to four straight All-Star Games from 2007-10. In the 2008 Midsummer Classic at Yankee Stadium, he scored the winning run for the AL on Michael Young's sac fly in the 15th. Morneau's 59 RBIs trailed only Giancarlo Stanton's 62 in the NL, and Morneau's line of .314/.346/.518 is more in line with his expected production of old.

"I'm not much of a self-promoter," Morneau said. "At this point I feel I've played well enough to be there. Obviously, you hope that's what comes out in the end. But there are other guys that are having great seasons, too. You hope we get Colorado and maybe Canada to rally behind us. I'll get a few of my hockey buddies on Twitter, see if we can get a little momentum going. That'd be great. It's a tough ride but I feel like to this point it would really be an honor to be on that third-base line and get introduced in that stadium in Minnesota, and be a part of that team."

Anthony Rendon: #VoteRendon (N3) -- On Saturday, Rendon played second and doubled three times in a blowout victory over the Cubs. Whatever manager Matt Williams has asked, Rendon has been there. Among NL third basemen, Rendon ranked second through Saturday in WAR (3.2), fifth in OBP (.343), second in slugging (.489), second in steals (eight), tied for second in RBIs (51), third in homers (12) and first in runs (60). And with Ryan Zimmerman back at third, Rendon is now listed as a second baseman. So he could be a useful and versatile late-inning tool in the lineup for Matheny. Can the Nationals win this competition after falling short the past five consecutive years?

"I think he has played really well," Nationals manager Matt Williams said. "The fact that he is in that [Final Vote] says a lot about his season and the way he has played. He has handled himself very well for being a very young player. He deserves consideration, that's for sure."

Anthony Rizzo: #VoteRizzo (N4) -- He leads all NL first basemen in homers (17), is tied for first in walks (50) and ranks third in runs (56), while upping his average to .276 so far this year. Entering Saturday's game, his 2.4 WAR was second best among NL first basemen, behind only Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt (3.7), the fan-elected starter. Rizzo, looking for a first selection, also brings Gold Glove-worthy credentials at first, coming off a .997 fielding percentage in 2013.

"It's an honor to come down to the wire like this, but I'm sure that the other four players are well-deserving as well," Rizzo said on Sunday in Washington after the Cubs' game against the Nationals. "It'll be fun."

Justin Upton: #VoteJUp (N5) -- Can he make it two straight winners for the NL East-leading Braves following Freeman's record vote total last summer? This two-time All-Star is tied for third in the NL in homers with 17, and he leads the club with 19 two-out RBIs. Atlanta also won the first one with Andruw Jones in 2002, so if Upton wins (and Sale falls short), the Braves would tie the White Sox, Red Sox and Phillies for the most Final Vote winners with three.

"It will be fun, that is all you can take from it," Upton said. "There are four other guys that also deserve to be there. At the end of the day, everybody is deserving. So you have fun with it and see what happens."

The AL East is the only division not represented in this year's Final Vote.

In addition to the web, fans can use their mobile phones to cast votes via the mobile web at MLB.com/vote or via text message. To receive the All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Experian mobile ballot, text the word "VOTE" to 89269. To vote for a specific player, fans can text the choice to 89269. Example: Text "A3" to vote for AL Player 3 or "N3" to vote for NL Player 3. Standard message and data rates may apply. Text "STOP" to end and "HELP" for information. Mobile voting in Canada also is available and fans should text their choices to 101010.

For the third consecutive year, the All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote will include social balloting participation, as Twitter support from the 10 candidates' fans over the last six hours of balloting will count toward their final vote totals. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET on Thursday, any tweet that includes a designated player hashtag (noted above) will be tabulated as part of the official vote total used to determine the winners. Fans will be able to follow @MLB for the latest standings updates over the course of the entire four-day voting period.

This is the second phase of the largest All-Star balloting program in sports, and the voting won't end here, either. The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again have you participating in the voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, you can vote exclusively online at MLB.com via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote Sponsored by Pepsi, and the fan voice will represent 20 percent of the overall vote that determines the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.

MLB.TV Premium subscribers, for the first time, will be able to live stream the All-Star Game via MLB.TV through FOX's participating video providers. Access will be available across more than 400 platforms that support MLB.TV, including the award-winning MLB.com At Bat app. MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.

The 85th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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