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J. Upton selected as NL Final Vote candidate

Outfielder looks to follow in Freeman's footsteps in final All-Star balloting

J. Upton selected as NL Final Vote candidate

ATLANTA -- When it appeared Yusiel Puig was the clear favorite to win last year's Final Vote Sponsored by Experian, Braves fans helped Freddie Freeman pull off an upset with a record-setting amount of votes. Atlanta left fielder Justin Upton is hoping to get similar support from this same loyal fanbase.

Upton provides the Braves yet another presence on the Final Vote ballot. The other four National League candidates are the Marlins' Casey McGehee, the Rockies' Justin Morneau, the Nationals' Anthony Rendon and the Cubs' Anthony Rizzo.

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"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."

There will be plenty of fanfare surrounding the lobbying done by clubs in attempt to garner the votes necessary for one of these candidates to fill the final spot on the National League's roster. As Freeman found last year, most of the polling for this roster spot is done on Twitter and other social media outlets.

As they all soaked in their All-Star selections on Sunday, Freddie Freeman, Craig Kimbrel and Julio Teheran said they are hoping Upton will be with them to enjoy the All-Star festivities in Minneapolis next week.

"He's put together a special season," Freeman said. "He has 50 RBIs before the break and 17 homers. He's in the middle of our lineup and he's a key piece. We wouldn't be where we are at without him. Hopefully, he will get there."

Here are five reasons why Upton should win the NL Final Vote and a spot on the NL All-Star Game roster:

1. The numbers don't lie: Upton ranks third among NL outfielders with 17 home runs and sixth with an .852 OPS. His ability to avoid the long slump that plagued him last year is one of the primary reasons the Braves have sat at or near the top of the National League East standings all year.

2. Kills left-handed pitchers: If NL manager Mike Matheny needs to send a right-handed bat to the plate to face a left-handed specialist, he will not find many better choices than Upton, who ranks second among all NL players with a .722 slugging percentage vs. left-handers. His 1.175 OPS against southpaws ranks third behind Troy Tulowitzki and Giancarlo Stanton.

3. Improved value at plate and in field: The improvements he has made while gaining more comfort in left field have helped improve his value stats. His 2.4 WAR ranks eighth among NL outfielders.

4. The Braves' catalyst: When the Braves surged early last year and then enjoyed a 14-game winning streak in August, Upton was in the midst of his two most impressive stretches of the season. As Atlanta began this season 17-7, he hit .330 with a 1.031 OPS. As he has gone, the Braves have gone over the past two seasons.

5. Hitting is contagious: Given that he recorded seven hits in 15 at-bats against the Red Sox this year, shouldn't we assume he will have similar success against Boston's John Farrell as he skippers the American League squad.

Fans began voting to select the final player for each League's 34-man roster via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Experian immediately following the announcement of each league's 34-man roster on Sunday night. Fans can cast their votes from a list of five players from each League until the winners will be announced after the voting concludes on Thursday at 4 p.m. ET.

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 "N5" to vote for Upton. 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 (#VoteJUp) 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.

And the voting doesn't end with the Final Vote. The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again have fans participating in the voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com and via Twitter in the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote Sponsored by Pepsi, and their collective 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 support MLB.TV platforms, 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 Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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