It’s finally here! The All-Star Break has arrived, and the second-half of the season is about to gain steam. The playoff picture is starting to take form, and the Wild Card teams are trying to stay in contention. Monday marked my favorite All-Star event with the Home Run Derby. It’s always an exciting event for fans, and I was lucky enough to have experience All-Star week in 2003. Fast forwarding to tonight, the 88th All-Star game will be played. This year will be different as it marks the first time the winning league will not clinch World Series home-field advantage for the first time since 2003. I was not a fan of this rule, and it was more displeasing due to starters being voted in by the fans. Still, I believe All-Stars should be based solely on numbers, and not a popularity contest by the fans. Either way, it still counts for bragging rights, and we are in for another entertaining game. No other sport has a meaningful All-Star game to that of Major League Baseball. This week, I want to focus on the 2017 Midsummer Classic in “That’s Amore!” Who Are You Picking To Win The All-Star Game?
Record versus National League: 42-2
This year’s American League roster features some of the game’s brightest arms in Chris Sale, Lance McCullers Jr., Andrew Miller, and Craig Kimbrel. This year, they will be without the likes of Yu Darvish (pitch Sunday), Michael Fulmer (pitches Sunday), Corey Kluber (pitched Sunday), and Dallas Keuchel (injured). More than likely, Chris Sale will get the starting nod for the American League as he is leading MLB with 178 strikeouts to go along with 11 wins and a 0.90 WHIP. Their offense is highlighted by strong first-halves by Kansas City catcher Salvador Perez, Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve, and New York Yankees rookie sensation Aaron Judge who enters the break with a league-leading 30 home runs. Mike Trout (injured) and Starlin Castro (injured) both received All-Star nods, but will not play in the game. The teams features enough pop to give the National League headaches and can easily jump in front early into the game.
Home Runs: 384
(Stats include those from Mike Trout, Starlin Castro, Dallas Keuchel, Yu Darvish, Michael Fulmer, and Corey Kluber)
Starting for the AL All-Stars are Salvador Perez (Catcher), Justin Smoak (First Base), Jose Altuve (Second Base), Carlos Correa (Shortstop), Jose Ramirez (Third Base), Mookie Betts (Outfield), Aaron Judge (Outfield), George Springer (Outfield), and Corey Dickerson (Designated Hitter). This offense combines great power and speed. Just about as young as it gets, this offense may be one of the best we’ve seen in decades. Of course, with Chris Sale looking to be the starting pitcher, strikeouts could pile up early.
Record Versus American League: 43-2
This year’s National League roster features one of the best starting pitchers in Max Scherzer and MLB-leading closer Greg Holland who enters the All-Star break with 28 saves in 29 opportunities. It features more than enough power with Bryce Harper, Nolan Arenado, Giancarlo Stanton, and a major 2017 rising star in Miami’s very own Marcell Ozuna. Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw won’t be pitching as he pitched Sunday’s game. As with home run leader Aaron Judge, the National League features their own rookie sensation in Cody Bellinger. The rookie has taken the league by storm slashing .261/.342/.619 to go along with 25 home runs and 58 RBI. Both leagues feature the front-runners for their league’s respective Rookie of the Year candidates.
Home Runs: 314
(Stats include those of Clayton Kershaw)
Starting for the NL All-Stars are Buster Posey (Catcher), Ryan Zimmerman (First Base), Daniel Murphy (Second Base), Zack Cozart (Shortstop), Nolan Arenado (Third Base), Charlie Blackmon (Outfield), Bryce Harper (Outfield), and Marcell Ozuna (Outfield). Their designated hitter has yet to be announced, but I’d say it’s fair to assume that Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton gets the nod in his home park. The NL’s likely starting pitcher will be Max Scherzer. Chris Sale versus Max Scherzer is a match made in heaven. Scherzer trails Sale, for the league lead in strikeouts, by five (178 to 173) and has compiled a 10-5 record to go along with a 0.78 WHIP and .163 batting average against. The key to the National League’s success will be jumping on American League pitching. They don’t want to fall behind early as the AL’s pitching staff features some of the game’s best.
Prediction: American League wins 7-3
All-Star Game MVP (Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award): Mookie Betts
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