A last second surge in voting mercifully saved us from watching the National League All-Stars versus the Kansas City Royals. Still, the Royals will have four starters in a game that, remember, determines home-field advantage in the World Series! And while the Royals could rattle off another surprising October and represent the American League, wouldn’t they still rather have the bat of Jose Bautista starting in this game rather than Alex Gordon?
Regardless of who’s starting where, the All-Star rosters look correct for the most part, unless you have a soft-spot for Alex Rodriguez, which of course you don’t! So with all but the final final rosters set, let’s dive into the Mid-Summer Classic matchup.
Since it’s a collection of the league’s best, obviously both rotations are going to look nasty, but the National League holds a slight advantage in the pitching department. Currently home to the MLB’s best arm in Max Scherzer, the rest of the NL pen features the likes of: Zack Greinke, Gerrit Cole, Shelby Miller, Madison Bumgarner, Jason deGrom, and more. A feel-good addition was A.J. Burnett, who made the All-Star team for the first time in his 17-year career.
Don’t be shocked if players from both sides are cozying up to the NL’s relievers: Jonathan Papelbon and Aroldis Chapman will be hot trade commodities in the coming weeks and contenders could start laying the groundwork next week.
The AL side has a nice combination of pitchers including Chris Sale, Chris Archer, Sonny Gray, and, of course, King Felix. But in terms of top-to-bottom talent, it’s not quite as stacked, especially at reliever, where two more Royals snuck in! Wade Davis was at least a player vote, but Kelvin Herrera was Ned Yost’s selection! And his justification for the pick was hilarious.
“The one thing that Kelvin did that a lot of these guys didn’t do was pitch in Game 7 of the World Series last year,” Yost told ESPN. “That was kind of the deciding factor for me.”
It’s the 2015 All-Star game, Yost! That run your Royals had last fall, in spite of your terrible managing, shouldn’t have any bearing! But now guys like Yovani Gallardo, Scott Kazmir, and hell even rookie Roberto Osuna will have to watch from the sidelines even though they’re having better seasons than Herrera. Stupidity/homer-ism that bad should be outlawed!
Both teams are missing a big bat from the starting lineup, as the AL will be without Miguel Cabrera and the NL will be missing Gincarlo Stanton. St. Louis’ Matt Holliday is currently on the DL, as well, but could make it back for the game.
The American League lineup boasts its usual embarrassment of powerful bats like Albert Pujols, Nelson Cruz, Mike Trout, Josh Donaldson, and Mark Teixeira, who can all knock the ball out of the park in a hurry. Thanks to Omar Infante getting outvoted late by Jose Altuve, the AL has a quality order all the way through.
The National League order is no slouch, either, led by their top vote-getter Bryce Harper. Along with Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, Buster Posey, Adrian Gonzalez, and Andrew McCutchen, Bruce Bochy has a wide selection of talent to pick from. Look for hometown favorite Todd Frazier to have a big game, too, in what will probably be the only good baseball played in Cincinnati this year.
The American League has taken the last two Midsummer Classics, perhaps motivated by the retirement tours of Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter. No players will be presented with gift baskets this time around, though, and the National League still holds a slight advantage all time at 43-40-2. Playing in an NL park and boasting a slightly sharper line-up – not to mention a better manager – take the National League to win this year’s rendition.
(Photo credit: Keith Allison (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode]. Photo may appear cropped.)