MLB All-Star Game 2012: 10 Hitter-Pitcher Battles We Cannot Wait to Watch
With just a couple short days until the MLB All-Star Game, the final rosters are being set up as those with nagging injuries and those not feeling up to the game drop out.
With the top pitchers and hitters meeting up, it's only natural that there will be some key matchups to look forward to. Which pitchers and hitters need to meet up just to see the fireworks happen?
Here are 10 matchups that I know I cannot wait to see.
Chris Perez vs. Carlos Beltran
After snubbing the Cleveland Indians and joining the St. Louis Cardinals this past offseason, it ended up being a great move for Carlos Beltran, who has been dominant in the first half of the year.
After being traded from the Cardinals, Chris Perez has emerged as a fan favorite with the Indians, and while the two don't have any animosity toward each other, the history of both makes this a great matchup.
Perez and Beltran have only faced each other once, and Perez got the strikeout; Beltran will be looking for revenge there.
Jonathan Papelbon vs. David Ortiz
The classic matchup of the Red Sox against the ex-Red Sox has to be on the list. Jonathan Papelbon has clearly not lost a step since leaving Boston, making the All-Star game despite a couple shaky matchups of late.
David Ortiz, meanwhile, is a staple at DH and has been just as dominant as ever this year. If there's one guy who he's going to want to hit a home run off of this year though, it's Papelbon, just to send a message.
Josh Hamilton vs. Cole Hamels
Josh Hamilton is one of the best hitters the AL has to offer, and Cole Hamels is one of the best pitchers the NL has to offer. Then again, most are in this game, so what sets these two apart?
This, simply put, is a matchup of the top two free agents this coming offseason. It's natural to say that they're not thinking about it, but certainly one of the two beating the other in this one matchup could give them that stronger push for the second half as they look for a huge contract.
Stephen Strasburg vs. Derek Jeter
Two of the biggest names in baseball nowadays are Stephen Strasburg and Derek Jeter. Jeter has been an All-Star staple, while Strasburg has proven himself to be the next big thing that people were expecting.
This one may be more personal preference, since there's not much to the story beyond that, but two giants of the game who are giants for entirely different reasons going at it is what the All-Star game is all about.
Bryce Harper vs. Justin Verlander
Bryce Harper has become one of the youngest players ever to make an All-Star game after a great first half so far. We know he's going to be someone with something to prove, so who would be the best pitcher for the future of the league to face?
How about the best present pitcher? That would certainly be Justin Verlander, who remains just as dominant as he was in 2011. The present facing the future, even for just one at-bat, would be a sight to see.
Mike Trout vs. Matt Cain
Luckily, Verlander-Harper isn't the only great present-future matchup we might get. Mike Trout is playing even better than Harper, and the young outfielder was absolutely deserving of his first All-Star appearance.
Who should he face, though? The best pitcher in the NL is a bit less clear, but it has to be a veteran to give it that feel. Both Cole Hamels and Matt Cain fit, but I used Hamels earlier, so Cain wins out.
Besides, with his perfect game this year and perhaps overall underappreciated record, Cain would love a matchup like this, and it's a matchup that could propel both of them further in the eyes of fans.
Matt Harrison and C.J. Wilson vs. David Freese
The 2011 World Series was one to remember as the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Texas Rangers in seven games. David Freese was the hero of that series, and this year he's making his All-Star debut.
Also making his debut is Matt Harrison, who Freese lit up in the World Series, driving in four runs off him in four at-bats. He went 2-for-5 against C.J. Wilson as well, which contributed to his World Series struggles.
Both will be looking for revenge and hope to face Freese more than anyone.
Aroldis Chapman vs. Asdrubal Cabrera
In reality, I could change this to Aroldis Chapman vs. all AL hitters, because after allowing no earned runs through June 6 and only one entering interleague play, he fell apart; in all four interleague games he allowed seven.
Perhaps the biggest one was the walk-off home run by Asdrubal Cabrera in extra innings on June 19. Chapman is going to want revenge from that, and he needs to shut down Cabrera so he can move past the interleague struggles and be lights out once again.
Jose Bautista vs. Joel Hanrahan
Jose Bautista bounced from team to team in the 2000s, the last of which was the Pittsburgh Pirates, before joining the Blue Jays and becoming a home run champion.
Joel Hanrahan, meanwhile, has been dominant as the Pirates closer, but his one weakness so far has been the home run, with seven of his nine earned runs coming from them.
The two may not have animosity, especially since Hanrahan joined Pittsburgh after Bautista left, but the stage is set for a great matchup given what the two have had to fight through.
R.A. Dickey vs. Everyone
Legitimately effective knuckleball pitchers are rare, and ones that are having a dream season like R.A. Dickey are even more so. Is he just that good or has he happened to breeze by weaker competition?
Despite already playing in the tough NL East to prove himself, here is where we can see just how good his pitching has really become. Can the best of the best hit it out of the park, or will they be confused as Dickey continues to be lights out?