MILWAUKEE — For the second straight year, Christian Yelich is heading to the All-Star Game.
This time, he'll be in the starting lineup.
The Milwaukee Brewers outfielder and reigning National League Most Valuable Player received more votes than any other NL player — 930,577, 22.3% of the outfield vote in the league.
"You really appreciate the support from the fans," Yelich said after Milwaukee's 4-2 victory over the Mariners on Thursday afternoon at Miller Park. "You never expect to lead the entire National League in votes but it's really cool and I'm definitely excited to be a part of the All-Star Game."
Yelich leads the major leagues this season with 29 home runs and is second with a 1.146 OPS. He also leads the National League with a .723 slugging percentage and 198 total bases.
It has been an impressive follow-up to a record-breaking second half last season, when Yelich batted .367 with 25 home runs, 67 RBIs and a 1.219 OPS and led the Brewers in a final-month charge to the NL Central Division crown.
Heading into Spring Training, Yelich was asked repeatedly how he would build on his success after setting such lofty expectations. He insisted all along that he felt no additional pressure by his performance in 2018 and was ready to turn the page and start anew this season.
"That stuff kind of lights a fire in me and pisses me off," Yelich said. "I didn't know how the year was going to go but I wasn't going to look back on last year and think anything was guaranteed. Just because you're an MVP the previous year, you're not going to just walk through the next year and everything was going to be fine. There was a drive and intensity there for myself and for my teammates."
Manager Craig Counsell sat down with Yelich during camp to stress the importance of staying within himself.
“He’s continued what won him the MVP, and he’s bettered it, really. He’s had a great first half," Counsell said. "There’s no more deserving starter, and it’s cool the fans recognized that from a player in Milwaukee. That’s something we should be proud of.”
Third baseman Mike Moustakas and catcher Yasmani Grandal were also in contention for starting spots but lost out to Arizona's Ketel Marte and the Chicago Cubs' Wilson Contreras, respectively.
They could still land spots on the team as reserves by way of player balloting, which will be announced Sunday, or be named as injury replacements.
Yelich hopes to see both teammates join him in Cleveland next month.
"You look at their numbers, compared to guys across the league, they're leading or at the top in all the major categories," Yelich said. "It would be great to see them make it. They're both definitely deserving and I'm hoping it works out for them in the next couple of days."
Yelich was one of five Brewers players on the National League roster last summer in Washington, D.C. He made his All-Star-Game debut as a reserve, going 1-for-3 with a solo home run off Charlie Morton in the NL's 8-6 loss.
This year, he was second overall in voting in the final balloting behind Angels outfielder Mike Trout.
The league adopted a new voting structure this season, which operated exclusively online. Fans voted until June 21 to determine finalists for All-Star starters. The top-three vote getters at each position — top nine in the outfield — in each league then entered a second phase of voting, which ran Wednesday and Thursday. Vote totals were reset prior to the final round.
Pitchers also will be named Sunday.
Yelich is part of one of the youngest All-Star Game lineups ever — a millennial-heavy NL group that could make history at the midsummer showcase in Cleveland on July 9.
The average age of the eight NL starters is 25.8 years old. Depending on who is chosen as the club's designated hitter, the starting position players could be the youngest ever, surpassing the 1967 NL and 2017 AL clubs, which averaged 26.0 years old.
"I've never seen this much young talent in the game," said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, who will lead the NL. "There's a lot of fun players to watch —talented and the personalities from some of these young players."
Angels star Mike Trout was the leading vote getter in the final round. He'll be joined on the AL squad by three Astros — Alex Bregman, George Springer and Michael Brantley — and two Yankees — Gary Sánchez and DJ LeMahieu.
The lineups are full of unlikely names. LeMahieu didn't crack New York's opening day lineup. Rangers designated hitter Hunter Pence could only find a minor league contract as a free agent last offseason. Diamondbacks second baseman Ketel Marte and Twins shortstop Jorge Polanco hardly garnered All-Star attention in previous years. Now they're All-Star starters.
"It was quite a wild journey from this year to last year," Pence said. "And to even be speaking about this now, is a miracle. It's a blessing, and I'm very grateful."
The NL's oldest elected starters are 29-year-old Freddie Freeman from Atlanta and 28-year-old Arenado of Colorado.
"Some of these young players are unbelievable players," Arenado said. "We're fortunate to be in this time, when you get to see how good they are."
Indians first baseman Carlos Santana was elected to start in his home park in the 33-year-old's first All-Star selection. He'll be joined in the lineup by Brantley, a former teammate who left the Indians in free agency last offseason for a $32 million, two-year deal with Houston. Brantley edged Yankees slugger Aaron Judge by 0.9% for the final outfield spot.
Trout is set to be the sixth AL player to start six times before turning 28. The others are Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Ivan Rodriguez, Rod Carew and Ken Griffey Jr. It's Trout's eighth straight selection overall.
"I just enjoy going to them," he said. "Every year it seems like I am slowing it down and embracing the experience. The first couple I was running around and it went so fast."
The first All-Star Game was in 1933 in Chicago. All-Star starters have been elected by fans since 1970. Balloting was moved exclusively online in 2015.
2019 All-Star Starters
Tuesday, July 9
At Progressive Field, Cleveland Ohio
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Catcher - Gary Sanchez, New York Yankees
First Baseman - Carlos Santana, Cleveland Indians
Second Baseman - DJ LeMahieu, New York Yankees
Shortstop - Jorge Polanco, Minnesota Twins
Third Baseman - Alex Bregman, Houston Astros
Designated Hitter - Hunter Pence, Texas Rangers
Outfield - Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
Outfield - George Springer, Houston Astros
Outfield - Michael Brantley, Houston Astros
Catcher - Wilson Contreras, Chicago Cubs
First Baseman - Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves
Second Baseman - Ketel Marte, Arizona Diamondbacks
Shortstop - Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs
Third Baseman - Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies
Outfield - Christian Yelich, Milwaukee Brewers
Outfield - Cody Bellinger, Los Angeles Dodgers
Outfield - Ronald Acuna Jr., Atlanta Braves
First Baseman - Carlos Santana 49.2%, Luke Voit 25.8%, C.J. Cron 25.0%
Second Baseman - DJ LeMahieu 38.0%, Jose Altuve 31.5%, Tommy La Stella 30.5%
Shortstop - Jorge Polanco 42.0%, Gleyber Torres 31.2%, Carlos Correa 26.8%
Third Baseman - Alex Bregman 49.1%, Hunter Dozier 27.6%, Gio Urshela 23.3%
Designated Hitter - Hunter Pence 46.7%, J.D. Martinez 31.2%, Nelson Cruz 22.0%
Outfield - Mike Trout 25.5%, George Springer 15.7%, Michael Brantley 10.8%, Aaron Judge 9.9%, Mookie Betts 9.1%, Eddie Rosario 8.9%, Joey Gallo 7.8%, Austin Meadows 6.5%, Josh Reddick 5.9%
First Baseman - Freddie Freeman 38.5%, Josh Bell 37.4%, Anthony Rizzo 24.2%
Second Baseman - Ketel Marte 39.2%, Ozzie Albies 34.3%, Mike Moustakas 26.5%
Shortstop - Javier Baez 43.3%, Trevor Story 29.3%, Dansby Swanson 27.4%
Third Baseman - Nolan Arenado 51.9%, Josh Donaldson 25.1%, Kris Bryant 23.0%
Catcher - Willson Contreras 44.6%, Brian McCann 33.0%, Yasmani Grandal 22.4%
Outfield - Christian Yelich 22.3%, Cody Bellinger 21.0%, Ronald Acuna Jr. 15.0%, Charlie Blackmon 12.6%, Nick Markakis 8.2%, Jason Heyward 6.5%, Kyle Schwarber 5.3%, Albert Almora Jr. 5.0%, Joc Pederson 4.0%
The Associated Press contributed to this report.