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We’re doing it wrong: 2011 All-Star Game preview

Jul 3, 2011, 5:30 PM EDT

Washington Nationals v Arizona Diamondbacks Getty Images

Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game is supposed to be a grand spectacle, a chance for baseball fans to see all of the sport’s current greats in one stadium on the same night. And it is that.

But a rule made official in 2003 now dictates that the winner of the Midsummer Classic is awarded home field advantage in the World Series — the chance to host four games of a potential seven-game series.

Major League Baseball wants the outcome of the All-Star Game to matter in order to boost interest and competitiveness (and, thus, television ratings), so we’re forced to take this all way too seriously.

(If taking it “too seriously” involves half-hearted and mostly blind analysis).

Our guess at the starting lineups:

American League

SS Derek Jeter
CF Curtis Granderson
1B Adrian Gonzalez
LF Josh Hamilton
RF Jose Bautista
DH David Ortiz
3B Alex Rodriguez
2B Robinson Cano
C Alex Avila

Bench

C Matt Wieters
C Russell Martin
1B Miguel Cabrera
2B Howie Kendrick
3B Adrian Beltre
SS Asdrubal Cabrera
OF Jacoby Ellsbury
OF Carlos Quentin
OF Michael Cuddyer
OF Matt Joyce
DH Michael Young

National League

SS Jose Reyes
CF Matt Kemp
LF Ryan Braun
1B Prince Fielder
DH Joey Votto
RF Lance Berkman
C Brian McCann
2B Rickie Weeks
3B Placido Polanco

Bench

C Yadier Molina
1B Gaby Sanchez
2B Brandon Phillips
3B Chipper Jones
SS Starlin Castro
SS Troy Tulowitzki
OF Justin Upton
OF Hunter Pence
OF Jay Bruce
OF Carlos Beltran
OF Matt Holliday

Both lineups are stacked with power and a nice dose of speed. Jeter is no longer an All-Star caliber player, but neither is Polanco and there’s plenty of danger in the heart of each order to make up for those minor holes. Plus, these starting lineups won’t remain intact beyond the third inning with crowded and talented benches on both sides. The offensive production is going to be a toss-up, especially at Chase Field where home runs fly often. Both clubhouses boast superb power-hitting. The only reason we might favor the National League lineup is because Jeter seems likely to be the sentimental pick at leadoff for American League skipper Ron Washington, and Reyes-Kemp-Braun functions a little better than Jeter-Granderson-Gonzalez.

To the pitching staffs:

American League

SP Justin Verlander
SP Felix Hernandez
SP Gio Gonzalez
SP Josh Beckett
SP David Price
SP James Shields
SP Jered Weaver
SP C.J. Wilson
RP Chris Perez
RP Jose Valverde
RP Aaron Crow
RP Mariano Rivera
RP Brandon League

National League

SP Roy Halladay
SP Clayton Kershaw
SP Cole Hamels
SP Tim Lincecum
SP Jair Jurrjens
SP Matt Cain
SP Cliff Lee
SP Ryan Vogelsong
RP Jonny Venters
RP Joel Hanrahan
RP Heath Bell
RP Tyler Clippard
RP Brian Wilson

We’ll get a better idea later this week as to which pitchers are actually going to be available for the All-Star Game. For now, we’re left only to analyze the staffs as a whole. With Verlander, King Felix, Beckett, Price, Weaver, Shields and Gonzalez, the American League boasts the better rotation arms. All eight starters, including Wilson, have the ability to dominate opponents deep into games. The National League has a trio of excellent Phillies, two young studs in Kershaw and Jurrjens, and a wild card in Lincecum, whose delivery can be awfully tricky for batters who are unfamiliar, but manager Bruce Bochy’s selfish decision to choose Cain and Vogelsong over guys like Tommy Hanson and Anibal Sanchez might be the kicker in the end. Then again, you have to wonder what might happen if the American League is forced to rely on someone like Crow in the later innings. The National League would seem to have a better crop of bullpen arms.

This analysis, of course, is arbitrary. Baseball is a sport played across 162 games, where small sample sizes mean little and any squad has a shot on a given day. The worst team in baseball each season still wins 50 games. It’s going to come down to individual performances. Will Granderson go yard? Will Reyes steal a bunch of bases? Are Joe Buck and Tim McCarver actually gonna provide some enthusiasm?

See you in Phoenix.

  1. Brian Murphy - Jul 3, 2011 at 6:04 PM

    A-Rod seventh and Cano eighth. It makes sense, but it looks really, really weird.

  2. spudchukar - Jul 3, 2011 at 6:45 PM

    If it is close late look for a NL win. The AL bullpen is pretty weak.

  3. spudchukar - Jul 3, 2011 at 6:57 PM

    AL
    Cano
    Granderson
    Gonzalez
    Bastista
    Hamilton
    Rodriguez
    Ortiz
    Avila
    Jeter

    • Ari Collins - Jul 3, 2011 at 7:26 PM

      The best hitter in baseball is batting 5th… why? And why would the guy with the lowest non-Jeter OBP and no speed lead off?

  4. fatcatt - Jul 3, 2011 at 10:22 PM

    I dont think the game is to serious. Would you want it to be like the NFL’s waste of time game? Players get picked and dont go. The NBA all star game isnt exactly fun to watch either..I think its great. You get the see the best players play at their best together. Couldnt ask for anything more

  5. FC - Jul 4, 2011 at 10:08 AM

    I think it’s dreadful that home field advantage is given on the basis of one game. I think the team with the best record between opposing teams should have home field advantage. Baseball is so worried about the All-star game mattering that they continue to degrade and subtract value from having the best record in baseball. And with the 2nd Wild Card coming the league record is going to be a joke like in Winter Ball (Seriously, in Mexico HALF the teams classify for their post-season, in Venezuela FIVE! out of EIGHT teams make the “playoffs!”)

    Hey MLB, having the best record in 162 games used to mean something, it used to mean (a long time ago) you went to the world series, then it meant you went to the championship series, lately it’s starting to matter less and less. Now it’s all about which team is hot at the right time. You want to make something matter more? How about giving home field advantage to the team with the better 162 record n the Worls Series? Unbalanced schedules aside it’s still far better than this crapshoot called the All-Star Game.

    • fribnit - Jul 4, 2011 at 12:26 PM

      it would be really difficult to plan if you had to wait until the end of the last round of playoff’s to determine if you were going NL or AL to start the series.

      The llstar game is an exhibition of players the fans wat to see.

      It should count for nothing and no one should really care who is on the team and who is not.

      • FC - Jul 4, 2011 at 4:09 PM

        “it would be really difficult to plan if you had to wait until the end of the last round of playoff’s to determine if you were going NL or AL to start the series.”

        Seriously? How hard can it be? This already happens to a certain extent in the current format. The current seeding determines home-field advantage in the divisional series and championship series, this would be merely an extension of that to the world series. By the time you are in the LCS you have it narrowed down to four teams, this is not rocket science. I find your objection… unconvincing.

        If they can easily plan it around 4 playoff teams and already have to plan around it for the LCS of each league they can certainly do it for the WS. Please try again.

  6. ezwriter69 - Jul 4, 2011 at 1:26 PM

    A game in which at least SIXTY men play, in which not even the best of the best plays more than four innings, and no pitcher throws more than two innings and by rule CAN’T pitch more than three, should not have ANY impact beyond what it always used to be, a celebratory EXHIBITION. It is idiotic nonsense for this game to decide home field advantage… it’s taken the fun out of the original and best of all the All-Star games for me, it’s just preposterous. Either choose the best and have them play a REAL game with the same rules as the real games, or play it as an exhibition; but don’t play an exhibition game with real consequences. It’s Selig-ism at it’s absolute worst, and that’s a high standard of bad…

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