Things to Know About the All Star Game

If you’re like me, this might be the most boring sports week of the year. There’s no real baseball going on, no college sports, and the NBA and the NFL are still locked out. Short of the women’s World Cup, there’s nothing going on in the world of organized professional athletics. I spent last night trying to get a Jonas Brother bot to retweet me. (I failed. There aren’t any, or they won’t retweet me.)

Which leaves me with the All Star Game — which I actually enjoy. I understand that it’s a meaningless exhibition game. But every baseball game is ultimately a meaningless exhibition game. So it’s really not that different. And it should be a little fun to watch Roy Halladay try to mow through Adrian Gonzalez, Jose Bautista, and Josh Hamilton. If only because there’s nothing else on.

So in the name of boredom, here’s a quick guide to the two squads, the NL and the AL. These are the players who are actually on the final rosters and eligible to play, to the best of my knowledge:

Park: Chase Field. Friendly to both lefthanded and righthanded batters, the Diamondback’s home is good for extra base hits of all varieties. An equal opportunity hitter’s park.

Pitching Matchup:

NL – RHP Roy Halladay, Philadelphia (11-3, 2.45 ERA)
vs
AL – RHP Jered Weaver, Los Angeles (11-4, 1.86 ERA)

Maybe the best possible pitching match up: Halladay is the best pitcher in the game, and Weaver has a case as the best pitcher in his league. (As do Justin Verlander and Felix Hernandez — please, no angry comments.) The Angels’ righty is a lanky fly ball pitcher with disappearing changeup; Halladay is a master of the cutter and a ground ball machine. Weaver’s fly ball tendencies might not play as well in the desert air, but then again he’s only allowed five home runs all season against Halladay’s eight. Also, Halladay is the one who has to face Jose Bautista.

I know it’s the All Star game, but there’s still a 50% chance Doc goes the distance.

NL

Manager: Bruce Bochy, San Francisco.
Does he have facial hair? Yes. A stylish goatee.

Lineup:
2B – Rickie Weeks, Milwaukee
DH – Carlos Beltran, New York
CF – Matt Kemp, Los Angeles
1B – Prince Fielder, Milwaukee
C – Brian McCann, Atlanta
RF – Lance Berkman, St. Louis
LF – Matt Holliday, St. Louis
SS – Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado
3B – Scott Rolen, Cincinnati

Even for an All Star team, this isn’t a good defensive group. The left side of the infield is Gold Glove worthy, but the rest of the team runs from average to awful – basically anything hit down the first base line is an automatic triple. The obvious move would be to flip Carlos Beltran and Lance Berkman at DH and right field, but roster restrictions and so on. The defense should improve as the replacements come in, except on the left side of the infield, which is going to see Pablo Sandoval and Starlin Castro, two questionable defenders, play the second half of the game.

Other Pitchers:
Starters:

RHP – Tim Lincecum, San Francisco
LHP – Kevin Correia, Pittsburgh
RHP – Jair Jurrjens, Atlanta
LHP – Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles
LHP – Cliff Lee, Philadelphia
RHP – Ryan Vogelsong, San Francisco

There is no way Ryan Vogelsong gets into this game. My guess is Tim Linecum, Clayton Kershaw, and maybe Jair Jurrjens before the NL goes to the bullpen.

Relievers:
RHP – Brian Wilson, San Francisco
RHP – Heath Bell, San Diego
RHP – Joel Hanrahan, Pittsburgh
LHP – Jonny Venters, Atlanta
RHP – Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta
RHP – Tyler Clippard, Washington

Question: Would you take anyone in the (Mariano Rivera free) American League bullpen over any of these six? There are good relievers in the AL, they just didn’t make the All Star team. This is the National League’s only advantage, having the five or six best relief pitchers in this game (and the only lefty reliever in Jonny Venters).

Bench:
C – Yadier Molina, St. Louis
C – Miguel Montero, Arizona
1B – Gaby Sanchez, Florida
1B – Joey Votto, Cincinnati
2B – Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati
SS – Starlin Castro, Chiacago
3B – Pablo Sandoval, San Francisco
CF – Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh
RF – Jay Bruce, Cincinnati
RF – Hunter Pence, Houston
RF – Justin Upton, Arizona
RF – Andre Ethier, Los Angeles

No left fielders, and just about everyone is a decent defender, so the National League’s run prevention is going to go into shutdown mode around the 7th inning. I’ll take the NL in a late comeback victory.

These are the shortstops in the All Star game this season: Troy Tulowitzki, Starlin Castro, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Johnny Peralta — all deserving players having good seasons. But look at those names. Tulo is the only one in Jose Reyes’ stratosphere at the moment. Reyes is not only the best shortstop in baseball right now; he’s the best shortstop by a huge margin.

AL

Manager: Ron Washington, Texas.
Does he have facial hair: Yes, a styling mustache.

Lineup:
CF – Curtis Granderson, New York
SS – Asdrubal Cabrera, Cleveland
1B – Adrian Gonzalez, Boston
RF – Jose Bautista, Toronto
LF – Josh Hamilton, Texas
3B – Adrian Beltre, Texas
DH – David Ortiz, Boston
2B – Robinson Cano, New York
C – Alex Avila, Detroit

The American League lineup is better than the National League with both the bats and the gloves. It’s a couple of Gold Glovers at the infield corners, two center fielders in the outfield, and a human highlight reel at shortstop – plus, whereas the National League lineup was hurt by the injury to Jose Reyes, the American League might have benefited by gaining Asdrubal Cabrera and Adrian Beltre over the left side of the Yankees’ infield.

Bullpen:
Starting Pitchers:

RHP – Josh Beckett, Boston
LHP – Gio Gonzalez, Oakland
RHP – Felix Hernandez, Seattle
RHP – Alexi Ogando, Texas
RHP – Michael Pineda, Seattle
LHP – David Price, Tampa Bay
LHP – C.J. Wilson, Texas

(Whoops. Price is scratched with turf toe.) Josh Beckett, Felix Hernandez, and C.J. Wilson are my guesses. The actual AL relievers aren’t very good, and there are no lefties, so it seems likely that Ron Washington uses starters deep into the game — particularly Wilson, who is his own pitcher and a former reliever.

Relievers:
RHP – Aaron Crow, Kansas City
RHP – Brandon League, Seattle
RHP – Chris Perez, Cleveland
RHP – Jose Valverde, Detroit
RHP – Jordan Walden, Anaheim of Los Angeles or whatever
RHP — David Robertson, New York

After tonight, let’s pretend this never happened.

Bench:
C – Russell Martin, New York
C – Matt Wieters, Baltimore
1B – Miguel Cabrera, Detroit
1B – Paul Konerko, Chicago
2B – Howie Kendrick, Los Angeles of Anaheim
3B – Kevin Youkilis, Boston
SS – Johnny Peralta, Detroit
UT – Michael Cuddyer, Minnesota
CF – Jacoby Ellsbury, Boston
RF – Matt Joyce, Tampa Bay
RF – Carlos Quentin, Chicago
DH – Michael Young, Texas

Congratulations to Matt Wieters for being the first All Star ever elected due to hype from two years ago. There’s a bigger drop off from the AL starters to the AL bench than there is between the NL starters and their bench, so the NL is going to get comparatively better as the game goes on. I’m still picking the NL in a late comeback victory.

And those are some things to know about the All Star Game.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Things to Know About the All Star Game

  1. One thing I still don’t know about the All-Star game is when does it start?

    I know TV coverage begins at 8:00pm but TV coverage for the Super Bowl begins sometime in August.

    When’s 1st pitch?

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