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Kimbrel only Brave named to NL All-Star team

Braves closer Craig Kimbrel made the National League All-Star team for the third consecutive year.

Braves closer Craig Kimbrel made the National League All-Star team for the third consecutive year.

PHILADELPHIA -- Craig Kimbrel made the National League All-Star team for the third consecutive year, but Freddie Freeman is going to need some help if he's to become a first-time All-Star.

Freeman is among five candidates for the "Final Vote" spot to be determined by fan voting, with the Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond, Giants outfielder Hunter Pence, Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, and Dodgers rookie sensation Yasiel Puig, an outfielder with just over a month in the majors. Online voting runs through Thursday 4 p.m. at www.mlb.com/vote.

There is also a chance Freeman could be added to the team as an injury replacement. But as things stand now, Kimbrel is the lone Braves representative on the NL team for the All-Star game July 16 at New York's Citi Field. Cincinnati's Joey Votto was voted to start at first base, and Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt and Craig are first-base reserves.

If the Braves have only one All-Star, it will be just the third time in 22 years they didn't have multiple All-Stars.

Braves left fielder Justin Upton, an early leader in fan voting to determine All-Star starters, did not make the team after slipping out of the top three outfield spots. The starting NL outfield, as voted by fans, is San Francisco's Carlos Beltran, Colorado's Carlos Gonzalez, and Washington's Bryce Harper, who overtook Upton in the last week of voting.

After hitting .302 with 12 homers in his first 23 games, Upton hit .226 with three homers in his past 58 games before Saturday, and had one homer and a .273 slugging percentage in his last 40 games.

The Braves had four All-Stars last season (Michael Bourn, Chipper Jones, Kimbrel, Dan Uggla), five All-Stars in 2011 (Jones, Jair Jurrjens, Kimbrel, Brian McCann, Jonny Venters) and a whopping six All-Stars in 2010 -- Jason Heyward, Tim Hudson, Omar Infante, McCann, Martin Prado, Billy Wagner).

Kimbrel has made the team in each of his first three full seasons. The All-Star teams were announced on a nationally televised TV show Saturday night, minutes before the Braves' game at Philadelphia.

Freeman hit .309 with nine homers and a .385 on-base percentage before Saturday, and led the Braves with 56 RBIs in 73 games, despite a stint on the disabled list in April for a strained oblique. Craig hit .325 with 10 homers, 68 RBIs and a .368 OBP in 82 games before Saturday.

Craig led the majors with a .476 average with runners in scoring position before Saturday, while Freeman was third in the NL with a .418 average in those situations.

Kimbrel had a 1.72 ERA and 23 saves in 26 opportunities, with 46 strikeouts and 12 walks in 31-1/3 innings. His strikeout statistics aren't as overwhelming as the record-breaking totals he hads last season, but Kimbrel was tied for second in the NL in saves and had a 0.50 ERA with 13 consecutive saves converted over his past 18 appearances before Saturday.

It's the first time the Braves have had fewer than four All-Stars since 2009, when catcher Brian McCann was their lone representative. McCann made the All-Star team in each of his first six full seasons -- a franchise record -- before his streak was snapped during an injury-slowed 2012 season.

Had he not missed the first month this season recovering from shoulder surgery, McCann, batting .276 with 10 homers, 28 RBIs and an .885 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 46 games, might have made the All-Star team again.

The last time the Braves had fewer than four All-Stars was 2009, when McCann was their lone representative. That was also the only time in the past eight seasons that they haven't had multiple All-Stars, since catcher Johnny Estrada was their only All-Star in 2004.

You have to go back all the way back to 1991, their worst-to-first season, to find another season in which the Braves had only one All-Star. Tom Glavine was their only All-Star that season, the fourth consecutive year the Braves had only one All-Star, each time a pitcher.