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Pillar's bat makes him prime All-Star candidate

MLB.com @gregorMLB

Kevin Pillar has received lots of attention around the league because of his glove, but it's his bat that will likely will make him the Blue Jays' leading candidate to be a top vote-getter for the upcoming All-Star Game.

VOTE: 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Ballot

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Kevin Pillar has received lots of attention around the league because of his glove, but it's his bat that will likely will make him the Blue Jays' leading candidate to be a top vote-getter for the upcoming All-Star Game.

VOTE: 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Ballot

View Full Game Coverage

Veteran starter J.A. Happ has a strong case to be named to the American League All-Star team, but pitchers are not featured on fan ballots -- at least not until the "Final Vote" for the last spot on the roster. That leaves Pillar as the Blue Jays' player with the best resume on the ballot.

Pillar led the Major Leagues with 20 doubles and the Blue Jays in total number of hits during the first two months of the season. He strung together a pair of nine-game hitting streaks earlier in the year, and while his numbers have dipped a bit of late, at least some of that has to do with bad luck because there has been a lot of consistent hard contact.

Then, of course, there's the defense. Pillar still has yet to win an AL Gold Glove Award, but he is a former Wilson Defensive Player of the Year Award winner, and he's known for his highlight-reel plays in center. His consistency in the field has been even more crucial this year for a team that has experienced more than its fair share of defensive issues. Pillar has been the one constant the club can rely upon.

Justin Smoak also likely will receive some consideration at first base after he was named to the team a year ago. Josh Donaldson's case has been hurt by a lengthy absence because of a right shoulder issue and then a disappointing May, but with his level of talent, a strong run when he returns from his most recent stint on the DL could put him back into the conversation at third.

The rest of the Blue Jays' players on this year's ballot include: C Russell Martin, 2B Yangervis Solarte, SS Aledmys Diaz, OF Curtis Granderson, OF Teoscar Hernandez and DH Kendrys Morales. Last year, Smoak was the only Toronto player who cracked the AL roster.

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.

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Toronto Blue Jays, Kevin Pillar