PHILADELPHIA -- Braves fans came to expect to see Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz pitching in All-Star Games on a regular basis throughout the 1990s. Two decades later, they are starting to get the same feeling about Craig Kimbrel.
When the All-Star rosters were announced Saturday night, Kimbrel was the only Braves player to gain a spot on this year's National League squad, though first baseman Freddie Freeman was one of five players named to the NL Final Vote ballot. This marks the third consecutive selection for Kimbrel, who has established himself as one of the game's premier relievers since becoming Atlanta's closer in 2011.
"It feels pretty good," Kimbrel said. "It's obviously an honor to get that honor. To do it for a third straight year, it's pretty cool."
Kimbrel is the first Braves pitcher since 1998 to earn three consecutive All-Star berths. Maddux earned five consecutive selections from 1994-98, and Glavine gained three straight selections twice (1991-93 and '96-98).
"[Kimbrel is] one of the elite closers in the game," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Good for us that he's going to represent us."
Despite the fact that the Braves have sat atop the National League East standings throughout this season, it was not necessarily surprising that Kimbrel was the only member of the team to gain a selection.
Justin Upton ranked among the top three National outfielders in fan balloting over each of the past five weeks. But when the final votes were tallied, he did not gain the opportunity to make what would have been his first start in an All-Star Game.
The NL's starting outfielders will be the Cardinals' Carlos Beltran, the Rockies' Carlos Gonzalez and the Nationals' Bryce Harper, who needed a late push to overcome Upton in the balloting process.
While Freeman has been the Braves' most valuable player this year, his candidacy was hindered by the fact that he plays the same position as Cincinnati's Joey Votto, Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt and St. Louis' Allen Craig.
The 2013 All-Star Game will be played at Citi Field on Tuesday, July 16. Come to MLB.com for extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.
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Kimbrel's first All-Selection came when he was added as a reserve two days before the 2011 Midsummer Classic was played in Phoenix. But his past two selections have come with no surprise.
"I think he's the best reliever in baseball," six-time All-Star catcher Brian McCann said. "I think he's been that since he put on a Braves uniform. He deserves to be there."
While Kimbrel has not matched the dominance he displayed last year while producing one of the finest seasons in history, he has maintained his status as one of baseball's premier closers. The hard-throwing right-hander has compiled a 1.72 ERA and limited opponents to a .198 batting average.
Kimbrel has converted 23 of 26 save opportunities, including each of his past 13 dating back to May 9. He had worked 17 consecutive scoreless innings before allowing a run in the ninth inning of Thursday's loss to the Marlins.
"Making the All-Star team says you have had a good start to the year," Kimbrel said. "But that's not the end of it. We still have a lot of work to do. Just because you make the All-Star team doesn't mean you've had a successful season. It just means you've had a successful first half. So hopefully, I can follow up the second half like I did the second half."
Until 4 p.m. ET on Thursday, be sure to return to MLB.com and cast your 2013 All-Star Game Final Vote Sponsored by freecreditscore.com for the final player for each League's All-Star roster.
And the voting doesn't end there. The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again have fans participating in the official 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 via the 2013 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote, and their voice will represent 20 percent of the official vote determining the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com.