2012 MLB All-Star Game: Top 5 Intriguing All-Stars to Watch in Kansas City
Baseball is always a game of history and of stories. People are always sharing stories about past great players and great events. Stats and numbers are important and a part of the story, but in baseball more than any other sport it seems like the story of that player as a whole is a part of the game.
There are plenty of good story lines heading into this year's All-Star Game. The game is considered by most to be the best of all the major sports' all-star games, and there are several intriguing players who can have a real impact on the game.
The league that wins the game gets home field advantage in the World Series, and all five of these players listed have their teams in playoff contention. Look for them to shine in Kansas City.
Here are the top five intriguing All-Stars, their stories, and what we should be looking for in the mid-summer classic.
5. Bryce Harper
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There is some debate as to whether or not the Washington Nationals' Bryce Harper should be in the All-Star Game. However, thanks to several players getting scratched from the National League, the 19-year-old rookie sensation will get a chance to show what he can do on the big stage.
Harper's first half numbers aren't necessarily anything special. He is hitting .282 with eight home runs and 25 RBIs. He has a pretty good OPS of .826. He has 10 stolen bases in 13 attempts.
What makes Harper so special is his energy. He plays the game with a tremendous amount of energy and heart. It is easy to see that he is truly passionate about the game. He has turned several base hits into extra-base hits, and he never takes a pitch off. In the second week of his big league career, Harper stole home for his first stolen base.
Harper brings a level of excitement to the game that few other players bring. Don't look for that to change if he gets into the game. He isn't going to take it easy just because it is an All-Star Game. Harper is one of the bright young talents that baseball is lucky to be able to showcase.
4. Chipper Jones
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Chipper Jones announced at the beginning of the season that this, his 19th season, will be his last. The future Hall of Famer has done a lot, and is now a seven-time All-Star.
Despite the fact that Jones is 40 and will soon retire, he has shown no signs of slowing down. He is batting .318 this year, well above his career average of .304. In addition to the good average, Jones has six home runs, 33 RBIs, and a .876 OPS.
Major League Baseball always does a good job of recognizing great older players at the All-Star Game, especially when they know it is their last. An example would be the awards and recognition given to Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwynn during the 2001 festivities.
Jones may not get quite as big of a ceremony as they did, but the league will definitely do something special to recognize him. And with him ripping the cover off the ball, there is a good chance that he is going to be able to contribute in his seventh All-Star Game.
3. Andrew McCutchen
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It isn't often that the best player in the National League is underrated and overlooked, but that is what Andrew McCutchen has been the first half of the season.
His numbers are just staggering. McCutchen is hitting a league best .362, with 18 homers and 60 RBIs. He has a .414 OBP and a ridiculous 1.039 OPS. He also has five triples and 14 stolen bases.
Part of the reason that McCutchen doesn't get the recognition that he deserves is because he plays for the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates have been terrible for years, and last year they showed signs of climbing out of that hole. But by the end of the season, they fell apart, and most people thought their hot start was a fluke.
That is affecting how people are looking at the Pirates this year. Many think it is just a matter of time before they come back down to earth. The lack of national television time has also hurt McCutchen's recognition. I have yet to see a game in which he has played this year, just the highlights that everyone else has seen.
But from those highlights it is very easy to see that McCutchen is one of the best players in baseball, and the reason the the Pirates are at the top of the NL Central. People will finally get a chance to what what McCutchen is all about, and I don't expect that he'll disappoint.
2. R.A. Dickey
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R.A. Dickey is the front runner for the NL Cy Young Award half way through the season. He has pitched unbelievably and kept his team in the NL East race.
Dickey has the best record in baseball at 12-1. He is fifth in the National League with a 2.40 ERA. He is fourth in all of baseball in strikeouts with 123.
All of this while throwing a knuckleball. Dickey is having the best season by a knuckleballer ever. But the fact that he throws a knuckleball is just the start of his story.
Dickey is 37, and has nine years experience in the big leagues. He already has more wins in half of this season than he has ever had in a whole season. Before the start of this year, he had a 41-50 career record.
Somehow Dickey has found a way late in his career to get the job done with his knuckleball. It isn't every day that you get to watch a knuckleball pitcher do his thing, much less in an All-Star Game. It will be fun to see how Dickey does against the outstanding American League lineup.
1. Mike Trout
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Mike Trout is another young superstar. He spent the first month of the season in the minor leagues, and is now one of the front runners for AL MVP. Yet because he plays for the Angels on the west coast, not many people have gotten a chance to watch this 20-year-old kid play.
Trout is hitting .341, tops in the American League. He has 12 home runs and 40 RBIs. He is second in the league in steals with 26, and Dee Gordon, the only guy ahead of him, has played in 14 more games. He has an outstanding .959 OPS, and .562 slugging percentage.
Trout also has the catch of the year, which he made in Baltimore a couple weeks ago. His defense in the outfield is very solid.
Not many people have gotten a chance to see this kid play. Trout is unbelievable, and in his rookie year he has already become a superstar. He will be fun to watch in the second half of the season, and really fun to watch in Kansas City at the All-Star Game. With his friendly personality and great play, he is sure to have a lot of fun.