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Freeman edges Bell for 2019 All-Star start


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Pirates first baseman Josh Bell rounds the bases in celebration of a home run – MATT SUNDAY / DKPS

Josh Bell earned 37.4 percent of the fan votes to start the 2019 All-Star Game, but it wasn't enough. He was narrowly edged by the Braves' Freddie Freeman, who captured 38.5 percent of the votes, beating out both Bell and Anthony Rizzo for starting honors.

While Bell did not earn the starting nod this year, he will almost certainly still participate in the All-Star festivities. The league will finalize the pitchers and reserves Sunday, June 30, but Bell's inclusion as part of the final three is a solid indicator he'll be involved during the July 9 showcase in Cleveland.

Should he somehow not make it as a backup at first base, there is also the option for Bell to represent as the NL's designated hitter. While the NL didn't put designated hitters on the All-Star ballot, their manager, the Dodgers Dave Roberts, can name his DH prior to the game. It is likely Bell would get that nod and still get his spot in the night's starting lineup.

For Bell, this is all well deserved.

Thus far in 2019, Bell is slashing .311/.384/.646 with a 1.029 OPS. He's also sprinkled in 22 home runs — including two of the 10 longest of the season — for good measure, and he leads Major League Baseball with 70 RBIs. Bell was also named the NL Player of the Month for May.

Freeman, by comparison, is slashing .312/.396/.598 with a .994 OPS while boasting better defense than Bell. He also has 22 HR entering today’s action and is currently tied for second in MLB with 63 RBIs. Essentially, it was a toss up, as the vote reflected.

Wednesday against the Astros, Bell made his final push for fan votes, blasting this one 423 feet into the stands at Minute Maid Park:

Our own John Perrotto had some words on that from Houston.

When you consider that and the fact he's already far surpassed his 12 home runs and 62 RBIs in 148 games last year, Bell's probable selection as an All-Star should come as no surprise. Add in his humble, gracious demeanor, and the choice becomes even easier to support. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle put it best after the Pirates' 14-2 win Wednesday in Houston.

“If you’re caught up in exit velocity, he’s your guy,” Hurdle told reporters. “If you’re caught up in distance of home runs, he’s your guy. If you’re caught up in driving in runs and a lot of the slug stuff that’s going on, he’s one of your guys. And the smile. It’s a million-dollar smile. He plays with emotion, but he doesn’t play emotionally, and the fans gravitate to that as well.”

And yeah, stuff like this doesn't hurt:

"I put in a lot of work in the offseason to try to get better and being picked to the All-Star Game would be a nice way to show it paid off," Bell said.

Assuming Bell is selected: Home Run Derby?


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