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Bell holding fast to top All-Star 1B spot

@adamdberry
June 17, 2019

Read our FAQ on this year’s revamped balloting format, which includes two phases of fan voting to determine the All-Star starters, and the ability to vote through Google Search. PITTSBURGH -- With less than five days remaining in the first round of All-Star voting, Josh Bell still has a good

Read our FAQ on this year’s revamped balloting format, which includes two phases of fan voting to determine the All-Star starters, and the ability to vote through Google Search.

PITTSBURGH -- With less than five days remaining in the first round of All-Star voting, Josh Bell still has a good chance to start at first base for the National League in the Midsummer Classic.

Bell remained first among all NL first basemen with 1,106,186 votes in the latest Google All-Star balloting update for the NL, which was released on Monday. However, the Braves’ Freddie Freeman has gained more than 130,000 votes over the last week to pull within 83,651 votes of the first-place Bell.

VOTE NOW: Google MLB All-Star Ballot

The Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo dropped to third place among NL first basemen with 948,047 votes, which puts him on pace to join Bell and Freeman in the upcoming Starters Election. The Dodgers’ Max Muncy (446,704) and the Mets’ Pete Alonso (319,256) rank fourth and fifth, respectively. Voting for “The Primary” closes on Friday at 4 p.m. ET.

The only other Pirates player currently counted among the leading vote-getters at his position is veteran outfielder Melky Cabrera, who ranks 16th among NL outfielders with 252,384 votes. Second baseman Adam Frazier and injured catcher Francisco Cervelli have fallen off the leaderboard at their positions.

The 26-year-old Bell is aiming for a spot in his first All-Star Game and, perhaps, a placement in the Home Run Derby at Progressive Field in Cleveland.

The Pirates haven’t had a starter in the All-Star Game since Andrew McCutchen in 2015, and they haven’t sent a starting infielder to the Midsummer Classic since Bobby Bonilla got the nod at third base in 1988. Bell also has a chance to be the Bucs’ first All-Star starting first baseman since Dale Long in ‘56.

Bell has cooled down a bit since a sensational stretch that concluded with him being named NL Player of the Month for May, but he is still one of the game’s most productive hitters. The switch-hitting slugger holds a significant lead over all other Major League hitters in RBIs (65), extra-base hits (49) and doubles (27), and he has a slight edge over reigning NL Most Valuable Player Award winner Christian Yelich in total bases (177).

Bell also ranks among the top 10 in batting average (.321), runs (52), home runs (19), slugging percentage (.653) and OPS (1.041).

Making Bell’s breakout season even more impressive? He has already surpassed some of his numbers from an admittedly disappointing 2018 campaign. Bell has more homers (19 to 12) and RBIs (65 to 62) than he recorded in 148 games a year ago. On top of that, his defense at first base has improved significantly over the past few months. He has accumulated a team-high 2.8 WAR, more than his 2016-18 totals combined.

Bell has started in 70 of the Pirates’ first 71 games, making 69 starts at first base and one as the designated hitter. All of his 70 starts have come in the cleanup spot, making him every bit the cornerstone player Pittsburgh envisioned as he climbed through the Minors.

Fans may vote in "The Primary" at MLB.com and all 30 club sites, the MLB At Bat and MLB Ballpark apps up to five times in any 24-hour period. Fans in the US and Canada can also vote on Google Search for every position, or up to 17 unique players per day, by searching "MLB Vote" or the names of their favorite players. Primary voting ends at 4 p.m. ET on Friday, June 21.

The top three vote-getters at each position (including nine outfielders) per league will move on to "The Starters Election," which begins at noon ET on Wednesday, June 26. The votes will reset for a 28-hour voting window that ends at 4 p.m. ET on Thursday, June 27. Starters for the 2019 Midsummer Classic will be unveiled on ESPN that night at 7 ET. The pitchers and reserves will be announced on Sunday, June 30, at 5:30 p.m. ET.

Then on Tuesday, July 9, during the 2019 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard, fans may visit MLB.com and the 30 club sites to submit their choices for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet.

The 90th Midsummer Classic, at Progressive Field in Cleveland, 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. 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.

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