So much for Puig-mania sweeping the country. Give this contest to Atlanta first baseman Freddie Freeman.
Freeman and Toronto reliever Steve Delabar won the fan voting for the final spots in next week’s All-Star game, meaning Los Angeles Dodgers sensation Yasiel Puig is likely headed for a few days off after a terrific stretch to begin his major league career.
Freeman set a record with 19.7 million votes, and Puig was second. Major League Baseball did not release the vote total for Puig, but did say the Cuban defector also surpassed the previous record for the final vote of 15.6 million for Shane Victorino in 2009.
“It’s unbelievable,” Freeman said. “I’m kind of speechless. I wouldn’t be here without the fans and I just saw that it’s 19.7 million votes. It’s incredible and it’s just a dream come true.”
Freeman was taking ground balls during batting practice before Atlanta’s home game against Cincinnati on Thursday night when general manager Frank Wren called him over and told him about his first All-Star selection. The slugger is batting .307 with nine homers and 56 RBIs in 78 games.
“I never, ever thought that I would make one,” Freeman said. “I just wanted to get to the big leagues and when I got here I just wanted to win ballgames. All-Star games were not on my mind.
“To win this is just beyond me.”
Puig will not get to play in the July 16 game at Citi Field unless he is added as an injury replacement. The outfielder is batting .394 with eight homers and 19 RBIs heading into Thursday night’s home game against Colorado, helping the Dodgers shoot up the NL West standings following a slow start.
But Puig has only been in the majors for five weeks, leading some to question whether he belongs on the NL team.
The final vote for the AL team also had its own share of controversy, with Tigers manager Jim Leyland nominating five middle relievers for the spot. There was some talk about whether the list should have included more high-profile players, since the All-Star game is essentially geared toward the fans.
Delabar won with 9.6 million votes. The right-hander is 5-1 with a 1.74 ERA in 37 appearances for the Blue Jays.
The Braves and Blue Jays had partnered up in the process, asking their fans to vote for each other’s player.
The other players on the list included righties David Robertson of the Yankees, Joaquin Benoit of the Tigers, Koji Uehara of the Red Sox and Tanner Scheppers of the Rangers.
Freeman and Puig finished ahead of San Francisco outfielder Hunter Pence, Washington shortstop Ian Desmond and Los Angeles first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.
MLB said a record 79.2 million votes were cast between the two leagues, easily cruising past the previous record of 68.6 million from 2009. Votes were cast through text message, Twitter and MLB.com.