Kemp needs late push in NL OF vote

Kemp needs late push in NL OF vote

ATLANTA -- Matt Kemp has a chance to be one of the National League's starting outfielders at this year's All-Star Game. But to realize this honor, the Braves outfielder will need a flurry of support during the final days of this year's balloting process.

When the latest Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot update was released Monday, Kemp ranked seventh among NL outfielders. He has fallen a couple spots over the past two weeks, but remains within striking distance of the Marlins' Marcell Ozuna, who passed the Cubs' Jason Heyward and is now positioned to gain the last starting outfield spot for the Senior Circuit.

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Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper will likely garner more votes than any other player this season and the Rockies' Charlie Blackmon is essentially a lock to garner the second-most votes among NL outfielders. The race for the third and final spot will be interesting.

A little more than 200,000 votes separates Kemp from Ozuna, who holds a lead of less than 30,000 votes over Heyward. The Cubs' Ben Zobrist and Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton also rank among the top six in the NL outfield balloting.

Fans may cast votes for starters at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- on computers, tablets and smartphones -- exclusively online using the 2017 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot until Thursday at 11:59 p.m. ET. On smartphones and tablets, fans can also access the ballot via the MLB.com At Bat and MLB.com Ballpark mobile apps.

Kemp has batted .320 with 12 home runs and a .908 OPS in 62 games this year. His 134 Weighted Runs Created Plus ranks sixth among NL outfielders. Heyward's 97 WRC+ ranks 29th among the NL outfielders who have tallied at least 200 plate appearances.

The only other Braves listed among the current balloting leaders are Brandon Phillips, who ranks fourth among second basemen and Freddie Freeman, who ranks fourth among first basemen despite the fact he's been sidelined more than a month with a fractured left wrist.

When the All-Star teams are announced, Braves catcher Tyler Flowers and center fielder Ender Inciarte have legitimate hope to gain their first selection. But neither has been listed among the leading vote-getters at their respective positions throughout the balloting process.

The Esurance All-Star Selection Show will take place on Sunday at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN. Following the unveiling of the 2017 All-Star starters, reserves and pitchers, fans should return to MLB.com and cast their 2017 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote for the final player on each league's All-Star roster. Then on Tuesday, July 11, while watching the 2017 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard live on FOX, fans may visit MLB.com to submit their choices for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet with the 2017 MLB All-Star Game MVP Vote.

The 88th Midsummer Classic, at Marlins Park in Miami, will be televised nationally by FOX Sports; in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS; and worldwide by partners in more than 160 countries. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage, while MLB Network, MLB.com and SiriusXM will have comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information about MLB All-Star Week and to purchase tickets, please visit AllStarGame.com and follow @AllStarGame on social media.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.