July 9, 2007

MLB Midseason, Part II: All-Star Game Preview

I've got no other way to do this, so let's break down the respective All-Star rosters, position-by-position. It doesn't matter a whole lot who the starters are, since they figure to play five, six innings tops, so we'll consider all the players at a certain position here. I'll be live-blogging the game tonight, not because it really matters but just because I feel like it. (By the way, BP Unfiltered has a nice HR Derby live-blog going on right now...)

Catcher:

AL: Ivan Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, Victor Martinez
NL: Russell Martin, Brian McCann

The NL has the edge for the first couple innings, as Martin is in the midst of a breakout season while Pudge shouldn't even be in San Francisco. But the backup advantage is easily towards the AL, as Posada and V-Mart are having great years. Neither plays defense that well (especially Martinez), but it's not like people steal a whole lot of bases in the All-Star game anyways, especially in the later innings. Offensively, Posada and Martinez have been stellar this season.

Edge: AL

First Base:

AL: David Ortiz, Justin Morneau
NL: Prince Fielder, Derrek Lee, Albert Pujols, Dimitri Young

I'm surprised the AL went with just two first basemen; I would have liked to see someone like Kevin Youkilis get on the team. The main value of most of the NL first basemen will be as pinch hitters; remember, the pitchers will be batting because the game's in an NL park, and nobody wants to see the pitchers hit, so we'll see a lot of pinch-hitters. Ortiz at first will be very interesting to watch, defensively; he hasn't played there in a while because he isn't good at it, so we'll see if his defense causes problems for the AL team. All these guys are solid hitters.

Edge: NL

Second Base:

AL: Placido Polanco, Brian Roberts
NL: Chase Utley, Orlando Hudson, Freddy Sanchez

The NL gets the edge here just because of Utley, who is the only great second baseman in the game today. Roberts should be starting for the AL; Polanco can field well and hits for a high average, but those are his only skills. I really have absolutely no clue why the NL carried three second basemen and two shortstops; personally, I would have gone with four shortstops and Utley as the lone second baseman, and played someone like Edgar Renteria at second. Sanchez has no business whatsoever being on this team; there were two Pirate pitchers having much, much better years in Ian Snell and Tom Gorzelanny.

Edge: NL

Third Base:

AL: Alex Rodrigez, Mike Lowell
NL: David Wright, Miguel Cabrera

A-Rod and Cabrera are stars, and Wright and Lowell are definitely the lesser players. I'd take A-Rod over Cabrera, and I'd take Wright over Lowell, so this one's very even. Cabrera's a top-three hitter in the NL, by the way, although some people don't know it yet.

Shortstop:

AL: Derek Jeter, Carlos Guillen, Michael Young
NL: Jose Reyes, J.J. Hardy

As I said earlier, it's just criminal that there are only two shortstops on the NL roster; Hanley Ramirez, Edgar Renteria, and Jimmy Rollins all have the right to be angry about this. The position in the NL is much deeper, but I actually think the edge goes to the AL here - both Jeter and Guillen are OPSing above .900. Young really doesn't add much to the team; he's probably an late-inning pinch-hitter for one of the pitchers.

Slight Edge: AL

Outfield:

AL: Vlad Guerrero, Ichiro Suzuki, Magglio Ordonez, Carl Crawford, Torii Hunter, Manny Ramirez, Alex Rios, Grady Sizemore
NL: Carlos Beltran, Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey Jr., Matt Holliday, Carlos Lee, Aaron Rowand, Alfonso Soriano

I would have rather seen Curtis Granderson on the team instead of Manny, but there's not a big difference there. The NL has a couple guys who don't belong - I could do without Beltran, Rowand, or Lee, and instead have someone like Eric Byrnes or Hunter Pence. There's talent on both sides, but I'm definitely taking the AL guys here...there are just so many great players in that outfield.

Edge: AL

Pitchers:

AL: Dan Haren, Josh Beckett, Bobby Jenks, John Lackey, Gil Meche, Jonathan Papelbon, J.J. Putz, Francisco Rodriguez, C.C. Sabathia, Johan Santana, Justin Verlander, Hideki Okajima
NL: Jake Peavy, Francisco Cordero, Cole Hamels, Trevor Hoffman, Roy Oswalt, Brad Penny, Takashi Saito, Ben Sheets, Jose Valverde, Billy Wagner, Brandon Webb, Chris Young

Well, the NL got Brian Fuentes off the team, but this staff still seems somewhat mediocre. John Maine is still off the team, and while they made the right decision in putting guys like Webb and Oswalt on the team (guys who have been great their entire career, even if they aren't putting up outstanding numbers this year), there are still a lot of hittable pitchers on that team, like Valverde and Saito. And this is the strength of the AL team...that is a murderer's row of pitchers. Imagine this...Haren goes two innings, then they can throw Beckett, Verlander, Sabathia, Santana, Putz, Papelbon, and K-Rod, and none of them have to go more than one inning. How do you score runs off that?

Big Edge: AL

Overall, I'm picking the AL to win, probably by a comfortable margin. Their offense is at least as good, and their pitching is a whole lot better. Predicting the outcome of one individual game is so luck-based that it is pretty much worthless, but I'll say the AL wins 8-3.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good work on the all-star game blog. Lots of dedication and Ichiro was MVP from my mariners. But i strongly disagree on one point. The Derby is not hte dunk contest. The Derby is way better. I have many friends who aren't baseball fans who watch the derby. The derby is still exciting. Tough ballpark to hit them out in. And the second round was a quite a show from all.

Kevin said...

Maybe I'm in the minority on this...but I just didn't feel like the Derby was even remotely interesting. If other people feel differently, then I was wrong...it definitely is too long, though.

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