American League (+105) vs. National League (-115, 7 o/u)
Unlike any other all-star game, Major League Baseball’s mid-season talent show carries some actual significance, with the winning league’s eventual postseason champ earning homefield advantage in the World Series. Whether you think the prize is too high is a discussion for another day. For now, the paradigm is here to stay, and the American League and National League will square off for the rights to Game 7 tomorrow at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati (7:00 PM Eastern).
The American League has won the last two All-Star Games; last year, they won 5-3 at at Target Field in Minnesota and, in 2013, they shutout the NL 3-0 at Citi Field in New York. Tomorrow, they’ll be looking to match the NL’s three-year win-streak that stretched from 2010-2013.
As with most years, some big names will be missing due to injury.
The AL will be without Detroit first baseman Miguel Cabrera due to a calf injury; the Angels’ Albert Pujols, who leads the league with 25 home runs and 53 RBI, is expected to take his place. Toronto’s Jose Bautista was another late scratch for the AL (shoulder), and will be replaced by Minnesota’s Brian Dozier.
The NL, meanwhile, will have to do without the services of young phenom Giancarlo Stanton from the Marlins thanks to a hand injury. “It’s great that I got voted in,” Stanton said to the Associates Press. “But not to be able to participate stinks.” Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen subs in for the Miami slugger.
Matt Holliday will be another no-show for the National League due to a quad strain, and his place on the roster will be taken by Ryan Braun from the Brewers; Braun will be playing in his first All-Star Game since being handed a 65-game suspension for PEDs back in 2013.
Thanks to the fan vote, this year’s American League roster is dominated by Kansas City Royals. Six KC teammates will be taking the field for the AL come tomorrow evening and four of them, Alcides Escobar (SS), Salvador Perez (C), Lorenzo Cain (OF), and Alex Gordon (OF), will be in the starting lineup.
Missouri’s other team – the MLB-leading St. Louis Cardinals – lead the way for the NL with four ASG representatives. But after the injury to Holliday, only Jhonny Peralta (SS) will start.
Looking at the props for tomorrow’s game, two young studs are the favorites to walk away with the MVP: Angels’ center fielder Mike Trout (5/1) and Nationals’ outfielder Bryce Harper (6/1). The host Reds’ third baseman, Todd Frazier (8/1), is also high on the list.
Trout is the reigning ASG MVP; he recorded an early RBI triple and a go-ahead double in last year’s 5-3 win.
In terms of the game, itself, the NL is a slight favorite at -115. The line is largely thanks to the NL’s stronger pitching staff, but arguably their best option on the mound – Washington’s Max Scherzer – is unavailable due to the fact that he started for the Nationals on Sunday. I’m taking the AL and the value.
Pick: American League +105.
Americans League Lineup:
- Catcher – Salvador Perez, Royals
- First base – Albert Pujols, Angels
- Second base – Jose Altuve, Astros
- Shortstop – Alcides Escobar, Royals
- Third base – Josh Donaldson, Blue Jays
- Outfield – Mike Trout, Angels
- Outfield – Lorenzo Cain, Royals
- Outfield – Alex Gordon, Royals
- Designated Hitter – Nelson Cruz, Mariners
National League Starters:
- Catcher – Buster Posey, Giants
- First base – Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks
- Second base – Dee Gordon, Marlins
- Shortstop – Jhonny Peralta, Cardinals
- Third Base – Todd Frazier, Reds
- Outfield – Andrew McCutchen, Pirates
- Outfield – Bryce Harper, Nationals
- Outfield – Justin Upton, Padres
(Photo credit: Keith Allison from Owings Mills, USA (Mike Trout Uploaded by Muboshgu) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.)