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Cervelli making strong bid for first ASG trip

Veteran backstop leads NL catchers in fWaR
MLB.com @adamdberry

Over the offseason, Francisco Cervelli remade his body. In the spring, he revamped his swing. This summer, he may be reshaping the way people perceive him as a player.

VOTE: 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Ballot

View Full Game Coverage

Over the offseason, Francisco Cervelli remade his body. In the spring, he revamped his swing. This summer, he may be reshaping the way people perceive him as a player.

VOTE: 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Ballot

View Full Game Coverage

The Pirates catcher has bounced back from consecutive injury-riddled years with a season that merits All-Star consideration. Cervelli, 32, is putting together the best offensive campaign of his 11-year career while leading a young Pirates pitching staff to a 29-27 record through the end of May.

After two months, Cervelli owned a .283/.400/.536 slash line with a career-high eight home runs, a team-leading 33 RBIs and 21 walks compared to only 32 strikeouts. His 155 adjusted OPS+ ranked first on the Pirates. He led National League catchers with 2.1 wins above replacement, according to Fangraphs, while also pacing NL catchers in home runs, RBIs, wOBA (.398) and wRC+ (155).

Video: PIT@WSH: Cervelli cuts down Turner with strong throw

Cervelli is not Pittsburgh's only deserving candidate on the All-Star Game ballot, which is now open for voting. But he may be doing the most to earn his first career All-Star nod.

Fans may cast votes for starters at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- on computers, tablets and smartphones -- exclusively online using the 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Ballot until Thursday, July 5, at 11:59 p.m. ET. On smartphones and tablets, fans can also access the ballot via the MLB At Bat and MLB Ballpark mobile apps. Each fan can vote up to five times in any 24-hour period, for a maximum of 35 ballots cast.

Following the announcement of this year's All-Star starters, reserves and pitchers, fans should return to MLB.com and cast their 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Final Vote for the final player on each league's roster. Then on Tuesday, July 17, while watching the 2018 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 2018 MLB All-Star Game MVP Vote.

The 89th Midsummer Classic, at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., will be televised nationally by FOX Sports; in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS; and worldwide by partners in more than 180 countries. FOX Deportes will provide Spanish-language coverage in the United States, while ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network, MLB.com and SiriusXM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information about MLB All-Star Week and to purchase tickets, please visit AllStarGame.com and follow @MLB and @AllStarGame on social media.

After dealing with various injuries over the past two seasons, Cervelli changed his diet and exercise routine over the winter. This spring, at the advice of teammate Sean Rodriguez, he started standing more upright in the batter's box and incorporated a leg kick into his swing.

Video: PIT@CIN: Cervelli blasts a 2-run homer in the 1st

The results of both changes have been obvious. Cervelli's only extended absence this season was due to an illness, and he's showing unprecedented power without losing his typically patient approach.

"He was able to spend most of the winter rebuilding strength, and then he put some work into his approach at the plate," manager Clint Hurdle said last month. "There's a better balance position for him in the box now. … His timing has been good. He's getting down on time much more frequently than he has in the past, which has given him an opportunity to get his swing off."

Starling Marte and Corey Dickerson, a pair of recent All-Star outfielders, are also putting together strong cases to be included in this year's Midsummer Classic. Marte has bounced back from a disappointing season marred by an 80-game suspension, slashing .306/.357/.506 with seven home runs and 10 steals in 46 games through the end of May.

Dickerson, who was designated for assignment by the Rays in February, has been everything the Bucs could have possibly wanted. As of Friday, he was slashing .310/.346/.490 with 23 extra-base hits and 31 RBIs, and his defense in left field has been among the best in the Majors this season.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Francisco Cervelli