ATLANTA -- Freddie Freeman owes a lot of people a lot of hugs.
After riding a "Hugs for Votes" campaign to his first All-Star selection last season, Freeman ranks second by only 40,801 votes to Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez in the first National League All-Star ballot update released on Wednesday.
Freeman is one of four Braves currently within four spots of a starting role on the NL All-Star team. Shortstop Andrelton Simmons and catcher Evan Gattis rank third at their respective positions and Justin Upton is seventh among NL outfielders.
Upton, who ranks seventh in the Majors with 13 homers, leads all Atlanta players with 312,574 votes and has the second-least ground to make up. He trails third-place outfielder Ryan Braun by 134,206 votes.
Freeman boasts the second-highest vote tally. His nine homers, 13 doubles, 26 walks, .305 batting average and .395 on-base percentage all rank among the seven best marks in the Majors by a first baseman.
Gattis, who leads all Major League catchers with 10 home runs, boasts an impressive tally of 241,005 votes in his first season on the ballot. However, he faces a tough battle with All-Star backstops Yadier Molina and Buster Posey ahead of him.
Although Gattis needs nearly 400,000 votes to catch Molina, Simmons is chasing perhaps the most difficult player to catch. Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who leads the Majors with a .373 batting average, has received more votes than any other NL player with 745,823 ballots cast in his name.
Tulowitzki's lead of more than 500,000 votes over Simmons eclipses the vote totals of all but four NL players.
Fans may submit up to 25 online ballots, but they can also earn a one-time bonus of 10 additional online ballots. To access these additional online ballots, you must be logged into your MLB.com account when you submit any online ballot. If you do not have an MLB.com account, register on the site in accordance with the enrollment instructions for a free MLB.com account.
The 2014 All-Star teams will be unveiled on the 2014 MLB All-Star Game Selection Show during the weekend of July 5-6, with further details to follow on MLB.com. The AL will have nine elected starters via the fan balloting program, while the NL will have eight fan-elected starters. Pitchers and reserves for both squads -- totaling 25 for the NL and 24 for the AL -- will be determined through a combination of "Player Ballot" choices and selections made by All-Star managers Mike Matheny (NL) and John Farrell (AL).
Immediately following the announcement of the rosters, you can select the final player for each league's 34-man roster via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Experian. Choose again at that point from among five players in each league. The Final Vote returns for its 13th season with more than 430 million votes cast to date, and you'll be able to make selections on MLB.com, club sites and your mobile device.
You'll be on a voting tear at that point, having already selected starters and the last men, and the ritual will not end there. 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 big game, vote exclusively online at MLB.com via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote Sponsored by Pepsi. The fan voice will represent 20 percent of the overall vote that determines the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
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.
Joe Morgan is an associate reporter for MLB.com.