Despite a furious, last-minute campaign by the Nationals, Bryce Harper lost the NL "Final Vote" competition to Cardinals third baseman David Freese and thus won't appear in next week's All-Star Game unless he's a late injury substitution.
Freese won the online voting competition, Major League Baseball announced this afternoon, beating out Harper, Braves outfielder Michael Bourn and Diamondbacks second baseman Aaron Hill.
Harper actually finished third, behind Freese and Bourn.
Though the Nationals' PR and marketing departments ran an aggressive campaign online and on Twitter, trying to encourage fans to vote for the 19-year-old outfielder, the baseball operations arm actually preferred he get to take the All-Star break off. Having started all but one game since he made his debut April 28, Harper talked this week about the physical and mental grind in the big leagues and how he looked forward to four days relaxing at home in Las Vegas.
Told this afternoon it didn't look like Harper would win the vote, manager Davey Johnson replied: "Good."
"I think he could use the time off, catch his breath," Johnson added, "rather than have the excitement of the All-Star Game."
Though Harper probably had more name recognition than anyone else on the ballot, Freese was a more deserving candidate based on his performance this season. Last season's World Series MVP for the Cardinals, Freese enters today hitting .285 with 13 homers and 50 RBI. Harper, who has 46 fewer plate appearances, is hitting .280 with eight homers and 23 RBI.
The Nationals still will have three All-Stars for the first time since the franchise arrived in town: pitchers Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez, plus shortstop Ian Desmond. First baseman Adam LaRoche also could be a late addition if Cincinnati's Joey Votto is unable to play due to injury.