Nationals RF Bryce Harper breaks NL voting record en route to starting spot in MLB All-Star Game

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by Amanda Comak

Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper was announced Sunday night as a starter in the 2015 Major League All-Star Game. Harper earned his selection to the National League team by garnering 13,964,950 fan votes, the most votes of any player ever to appear on the National League ballot and third-most votes for any player in MLB this season.

GettyImages-472862308Harper, 22, entered Sunday night’s game against the San Francisco Giants hitting .344 with a .470 on-base percentage and a Major League-best .719 slugging percentage. In 75 games this season, Harper has hit 25 home runs to go along with 19 doubles and one triple. He has walked 60 times in 319 plate appearances.

The Nationals’ right-fielder, who won back-to-back National League Player of the Week awards in May, as well as the National League Player of the Month Award for the same month, currently leads the Major Leagues in on-base percentage (.470), slugging percentage (.719) and on-base plus slugging percentage (1.189). He ranks tied for second in the Major Leagues in home runs (25), third in walks (60) and fourth in RBI (60). His batting average (.344) ranks fourth, and his 57 runs scored slot in fifth.

With his 25th home run, hit on Saturday vs. the Giants, Harper became just the seventh player in Major League history, age 22 or younger, to hit 25 home runs in the season’s first 81 games. He joined four Hall of Fame players (Harmon Killebrew, Eddie Mathews, Joe DiMaggio, Mel Ott) on that list, along with Alex Rodriguez. On May 6 vs. the Miami Marlins, Harper became the 10th-youngest player in MLB history to hit three home runs in a single game.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only two other players in Major League history have hit .340 or better with at least 25 home runs, 60 RBI and 60 walks through July 4th – Hall of Famers Frank Thomas (1994 and 2000) and Babe Ruth (1921, 1926-27, 1930).

While Harper’s home runs have drawn him significant praise, as well as placed him in some elite company, Harper’s .470 on-base percentage is more than .100 points higher than any of his previous career marks. Harper has reached base safely (including on errors) in 68 of the 75 games he’s played in this year, and hasn’t been held hitless in back-to-back games since May 4-5.

This will be Harper’s third career All-Star Game selection and his second career All-Star start. Harper, who previously attended the 2012 and 2013 All-Star Games (in Kansas City and New York-NL), started in center field for the National League team in the 2013 contest. Harper, the first three-time All-Star in Nationals history (2005-present), is also the first Nationals player to claim multiple fan-elected starting assignments. He is the fourth player in franchise history to accomplish the feat, joining Hall of Famers Gary Carter (1981-84) and Andre Dawson (1981-83), as well as Tim Raines (1982-83).

The rest of the 2015 Major League All-Star participants will be announced Monday night at 7 p.m. during the “Esurance All-Star Selection Show” on ESPN. The 86th Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be held at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Tuesday, July 14.

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