Once Major League Baseball announces the winning vote-getters for the 2013 All-Star Game, everyone is going to start speculating as to what the starting lineups are going to look like.
AL manager Jim Leyland and NL manager Bruce Bochy have quite the task on their hands, as figuring out where every star should be slotted is one of the most difficult things that they’ll do all season long. While some may think they can just close their eyes and choose, it’s actually a tricky process.
For one, since the outfield vote isn’t classified by position, they have to figure out who is going to play where. In the NL, Bochy has to decide who the designated hitter is going to be. Should either manager focus on going lefty-righty with every other hitter? What combination of stars gives the team the best shot at winning the game?
Well, I took a crack at playing the early roles of Leyland and Bochy, determining where they should put each All-Star in their respective lineup. The starters are based on the most recent voting results for the AL and NL, per MLB.com, and don’t take into consideration potential injury replacements.
That being said, here’s a look at how each Midsummer Classic manager should position his starters on July 16 at Citi Field, with analysis on the player to watch on each team as well as a prediction for which league will have home-field advantage in the 2013 World Series.
Projected American League Lineup
|1||Mike Trout||LF||Los Angeles Angels|
|2||Robinson Cano||2B||New York Yankees|
|3||Miguel Cabrera||3B||Detroit Tigers|
|4||Chris Davis||1B||Baltimore Orioles|
|5||Jose Bautista||RF||Toronto Blue Jays|
|6||David Ortiz||DH||Boston Red Sox|
|7||Joe Mauer||C||Minnesota Twins|
|8||Adam Jones||CF||Baltimore Orioles|
|9||J.J. Hardy||SS||Baltimore Orioles|
AL Player to Watch: Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles
Chris Davis had a breakout season a year ago, hitting 33 home runs and 85 RBI through 139 games for the surprising Baltimore Orioles. The O’s have 11 more games before the All-Star Game, and there’s a very strong chance that Davis surpasses his home run total from 2012. He’s hit 32 homers already.
It’s absolutely incredible to think that Davis could end the regular season with 60 or more home runs, if he continues to hit at his current pace. A player has only hit 60 long balls in a season eight times throughout the history of the league and by just five players. It’s quite the list too, even though some have ties to PEDs.
The National League pitching staff better be very wary of Davis when he steps into the batter’s box on July 16. There’s no way that they can pitch around Miguel Cabrera because Davis will be right behind him. Davis is going to get a chance to hit, and you can bet that he drives at least one ball out of Citi Field.
Projected National League Lineup
|1||Brandon Phillips||2B||Cincinnati Reds|
|2||Carlos Beltran||CF||St. Louis Cardinals|
|3||Joey Votto||1B||Cincinnati Reds|
|4||Justin Upton||RF||Atlanta Braves|
|5||David Wright||3B||New York Mets|
|6||Troy Tulowitzki||SS||Colorado Rockies|
|7||Carlos Gonzalez||LF||Colorado Rockies|
|8||Matt Holliday||DH||St. Louis Cardinals|
|9||Yadier Molina||C||St. Louis Cardinals|
NL Player to Watch: David Wright, New York Mets
Unless San Francisco votes over a million times to get Pablo Sandoval into the All-Star Game, New York fans will get what they want: David Wright in the starting lineup. Wright absolutely deserves the starting nod as he’s been the best third baseman in the NL without a doubt.
If you don’t count Matt Carpenter—who’s more of a second baseman—Wright has more than a 2.0 WAR lead over anyone else at the position, per FanGraphs. On the season, Wright is hitting .308/.393/.530 with 13 home runs, 43 RBI, 44 runs and 14 stolen bases. He continues to shine despite his team’s poor play.
The Mets haven’t had much to cheer for this season, as they’ve battled the Marlins for last place in the NL East, but Wright has yet to let the team down. The captain will definitely get the loudest ovation of anyone in New York on July 16. Look for him to get a big hit when the NL needs it most.
All-Star Game Prediction
This is going to be one of the best spectacles that we’ve seen in a while. Both lineups are absolutely stacked, and the pitching staffs are bound to be dominant, too. This should be one of the closer games we’ve seen in recent memory, but I expect it to be a slugfest at the same time.
So, this is how the game is going to play out. The AL is going to take a 2-0 lead in the first when Miguel Cabrera doubles and then Chris Davis smashes a home run to right field. The NL will respond with a bomb from Justin Upton to lead off the second. In the third inning, Cabrera will plate Mike Trout and Robinson Cano, giving the AL a 4-1 lead.
In the bottom half of the frame, Carlos Beltran—who should also get quite the ovation—will hit a two-run blast to dead center field. After an Upton single, Wright will connect with a home run for himself, giving the NL a one-run advantage. In the following innings, bench players will enter the game, hoping to lend a hand.
Prince Fielder will hit a solo shot in the sixth to tie things up at five apiece, but Pablo Sandoval will untie it with a bomb in the bottom half of the inning. In the top of the seventh, the AL will erupt for a three-run inning, highlighted by a bases-clearing double from Manny Machado.
The NL will fail to make any noise in the seventh or eighth, and the game will head to the ninth with the AL leading by a score of 8-6. Mariano Rivera will be on the mound for the ninth, but will struggle. He’ll give up a run to cut the AL’s lead to one and will face Buster Posey with the bases loaded and two down.
Rivera will throw a nasty cutter to sit Posey down looking to end the game, secure the win for the AL and give home-field advantage for the Junior Circuit.
Prediction: American League over National League, 8-7