MILWAUKEE -- Nick Markakis now has the distinction of being the Major Leaguer who has played the most career games before garnering a first-All-Star selection. Ozzie Albies could soon become the youngest Braves player to appear in a Midsummer Classic since Hank Aaron in 1955.When this year's All-Star rosters were
MILWAUKEE -- Nick Markakis now has the distinction of being the Major Leaguer who has played the most career games before garnering a first-All-Star selection. Ozzie Albies could soon become the youngest Braves player to appear in a Midsummer Classic since Hank Aaron in 1955.
When this year's All-Star rosters were announced on Sunday night, Markakis and Freddie Freeman celebrated the honor of being elected to the National League's starting lineup. The Braves will also be represented by Albies and Mike Foltynewicz, who both will also be first-time All-Stars when the Midsummer Classic is played at Nationals Park on July 17.
"To have Nick Markakis go to the All-Star Game, you almost get emotional," Freeman said. "He deserved it many more times before this. The guy has over 2,000 hits and is the ultimate pro. It's going to be awesome to see that."
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Freeman and Markakis received more votes than any other NL players during this year's balloting process. Albies and Foltynewicz gained their selections via ballots cast by players.
Markakis has already played 1,928 games during a career that includes 2,165 hits. No other player in MLB history had played more than 1,866 games (Ron Fairley in 1973) before gaining a first All-Star selection.
"It is what it is," Markakis said. "Whether it came during my first year or this late in my career, it's going to be an exciting time. It's something I've never experienced. But I've got Freddie to lean a shoulder on. It's going to be a great experience and I'm looking forward to it."
There was some hope the Braves would have three position players in the NL's starting lineup for the first time since 1960, when Aaron, Eddie Mathews, Del Crandall and Joe Adcock were all starters. But Albies was passed during the final days of balloting by Cubs second baseman Javier Baez. Freeman and Markakis will be the first Braves duo in the NL's lineup since Javy Lopez and Gary Sheffield in 2003.
"It means the world," said Freeman, who was selected as an All-Star reserve in 2013 and '14. "You obviously don't play for the recognition. You play to win the games. But when you sit back and see how many fans actually voted for you, it's kind of remarkable. Every time that balloting came out every week, you just stepped back, shook your head and said, 'Wow.'"
Braves manager Brian Snitker informed the players during a clubhouse meeting held a few hours before Sunday afternoon's loss to the Brewers.
"My name was the last one to be called off," Foltynewicz said. "Especially how I ended the last game, you just never know, but my heart was in my stomach and throat at the same time."
The always-stoic Albies chose not to admit he felt nervous before hearing his name called.
"When the names kept coming off, it was just exciting," Albies said. "Everybody keeps telling you [you'll make it], but you never know until that moment."
A top NL MVP candidate throughout this season, Freeman has spent the past few weeks knowing he was likely going to get his third career All-Star selection. He entered Sunday with the NL's second-best fWins Above Replacement and ranked among the top three in hits with both Markakis and Albies.
Markakis has collected an NL-best 113 hits during a rejuvenated season that has further enhanced the value he has brought the Braves as a leader throughout their rebuilding process. The 34-year-old veteran is looking forward to how much his kids will enjoy him participating in the All-Star Game, which will be staged within a short drive from the family's Baltimore-area home.
Albies has established himself as one of the game's most exciting young players. The 21-year-old Curacao native leads the NL in runs, doubles and extra-base hits. His current age (21 years and 182 days) positions him to become the youngest Braves player to appear in an All-Star Game since Aaron made his Midsummer Classic debut at 21 years and 157 days.
"I'm just playing the game," Albies said. "It means a lot to me that I've been selected. It feels amazing."
Always armed with tremendous potential, Foltynewicz has displayed it while proving to be one of the Majors' top starting pitchers this year. The 26-year-old right-hander has produced a 2.37 ERA over 17 starts. He has allowed 25 earned runs over 95 innings. Eleven of those runs have been tallied within two innings.
"I'm kind of speechless," Foltynewicz said. "It hasn't really sunk in yet."
Fans can cast votes for the final player on each league's roster -- on computers, tablets and smartphones -- exclusively online as part of the 2018 Camping World MLB Final Vote, as well as via the MLB At Bat and MLB Ballpark mobile apps, until Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET.
Then on Tuesday, July 17, while watching the 2018 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard live on FOX, fans can submit their choices for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet with the 2018 All-Star Game MLB.com 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, visit AllStarGame.com and follow @MLB and @AllStarGame on social media.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.