Freeman, Delabar win record-setting Final Vote
Steve Delabar may be playing baseball north of the border, but clearly, his popularity has no boundaries.
The Blue Jays right-hander -- that is, the substitute teacher-turned-student-turned-baseball coach-turned Blue Jays right-hander -- pulled off a wire-to-wire act, never relinquishing the lead in balloting for the American League All-Star Game Final Vote, sponsored by freecreditscore.com. Delabar was in first place when voting opened on Sunday and was still reigning when voting concluded at 4 p.m. ET on Thursday.
The same goes for Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman, who grabbed an early lead and never relinquished it. Freeman will represent the NL as the Final Vote winner and will, along with Delabar, head to New York for All-Star festivities next week.
This was a record-setting venture. Baseball fans from around the world turned in an unprecedented 79.2 million votes, surpassing the prior high-mark of 68.6 million set in 2009. Fans also cast 10.2 million of those votes via text messaging this time around.
Both Freeman and Puig paced a close race by finishing with more votes than the previous record-holder, Shane Victorino, who netted 15.6 million in 2009. Freeman's total of 19.7 million is the new all-time Final Vote record.
Delabar became the first Toronto player to win with 9.6 million votes.
Unsurprisingly, Freeman dominated voting in most of the southeast part of the country, where Braves country reigns. The only exception was -- in the words of late, great baseball fan Tim Russert -- Florida, Florida, Florida. Freeman and Yasiel Puig, for the most part, split that state, with Puig dominating the southern-most parts, which makes sense, given its proximity to Puig's native Cuba.
Overall, the NL race was really between Freeman and Puig, with the other candidates -- namely the Giants' Hunter Pence and the Nationals' Ian Desmond -- dominating in areas only where their home teams were located. Southern California had two options in Puig and Dodgers teammate Adrian Gonzalez, but overwhelmingly, the support went toward Puig -- including Gonzalez's. The first baseman made it clear he was voting for Puig.
Yankees right-handed reliever David Robertson finished second in AL voting, followed by Detroit's Joaquin Benoit, Red Sox reliever Koji Uehara and the Rangers' Tanner Scheppers.
In the NL, Freeman and Puig were followed by Pence, Desmond and Gonzalez.
Voting concluded with a six-hour Twitter vote on Thursday as tweets with a player's designated hashtag counted in his overall total. The program drew an average of more than 4,200 tweets per minute, highlighted by a peak of 24,660 at 3:59 p.m. ET, accounting for 13 percent of the total votes cast during the six-hour window.
The leading Twitter vote-getter was #VoteFreddie (Freeman), followed by #VotePuig (Puig), #HighSocksForVotes (Robertson), #RaiseTheBar (Delabar) and #HighFiveCiti (Uehara) in the top five. All of the leading contenders had their hashtags trending in the U.S., worldwide and in their respective local markets.
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.
The 2013 All-Star Game will be played at Citi Field on Tuesday. Come to MLB.com for extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.
The 84th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, 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 also will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.