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Pirates carefully cast their own ASG votes

Players, coaches, managers consider who will help them win home-field advantage

PITTSBURGH -- For a team like the Pirates, the outcome of the All-Star Game -- and the resulting home-field advantage in the World Series -- takes on a little added significance. So, too, does the process of filling out their All-Star ballots.

Much attention has been paid this summer to the 2015 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot fan voting. But each Major League player, coach and manager receives a ballot of his own to fill out.

Many people inside the Pirates' clubhouse carefully consider their votes. They're asked to vote for eight starting position players, eight backup position players, five starting pitchers and three relievers in the National League.

"If you're a team that's doing well and has an opportunity to go to the playoffs, you want the best players in those spots," second baseman Neil Walker said.

But how do the players and coaches go about making their selections? Some, like shortstop Jordy Mercer, don't focus on numbers. They vote based on what they've seen, what they've heard and what they know.

"I think it's just personal preference. I think a lot of it has to do with certain teams you play," Mercer said. "I think a lot of it has to do with guys playing unbelievable years and they should get credit for it."

There's a third element in play, too: voting for teammates. The Pirates have a number of deserving candidates, including Andrew McCutchen, Gerrit Cole, A.J. Burnett and Mark Melancon.

But how tempting is it to become a partisan voter and stuff the ballot box with Pirates?

"You should vote for the people that deserve it. That's the way I look at it," Mercer said. "If it's down between a teammate and somebody else, you're obviously going to go with your teammate. There's guys in here that absolutely deserve it, and they would get my vote no mater what."

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle pointed out two players who received his vote: underrated Colorado third baseman Nolan Arenado and Cincinnati's Todd Frazier, who historically has thrived against Pittsburgh.

Hurdle takes the assignment particularly seriously. He balances his gut feeling with the opinion of others and statistical research, if he's not as familiar with the players under consideration.

"That's kind of the way you do it. There's guys we see a lot more of. There's some guys you don't need to see a lot more of to know," Hurdle said. "And then you just follow them through the league, you look at the defensive metrics. You look at the offensive numbers. You call a couple people.

"When I get my ballot, I want to vote for the guys I think are going to help us win the game."

Adam Berry is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry.
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