With the 2013 MLB All-Star Game rosters announced, it's time for the analyzing and nitpicking to begin. Normally for All-Star Games, analyzing is simply to predict a friendly exhibition—but not in pro baseball.
Considering home-field advantage for the World Series is on the line, this is a game that indeed matters. The past three years, the National League has won the All-Star Game.
A National League team has won all three World Series' over that time span. The San Francisco Giants have twice since 2010, with the St. Louis Cardinals winning in between the Giants' two championships.
Whether home-field advantage played a significant role in those games can be debated, but history doesn't lie. Let's take a look at the full roster for both leagues and then dive into analysis.
MLB All-Star Game Starters
|*OF||Jose Bautista||Blue Jays|
|*DH||David Ortiz||Red Sox|
|^P||Clay Buchholz||Red Sox|
|P||Brett Cecil||Blue Jays|
|P||Bartolo Colon||A 's|
|^P||Jesse Crain||White Sox|
|P||Chris Sale||White Sox|
|2B||Dustin Pedroia||Red Sox|
|DH||Edwin Encarnacion||Blue Jays|
|P||Patrick Corbin||D -Backs|
|1B||Paul Goldschmidt||D -Backs|
* = Starter
^ = Injured, will not play
Rosters courtesy of MLB.com.
Offensively, the American League boasts the better power numbers of the two teams.
Chris Davis and his 33 home runs leads all of MLB. Miguel Cabrera, Edwin Encarnacion, Nelson Cruz and Jose Bautista are all among the top 10 leaders in the category. Only reserves Domonic Brown and Pedro Alvarez are among the league's top 10 for homers on the NL side.
Power is not everything in baseball, but it's something the AL has lacked in the previous three All-Star Games, scoring just two combined runs in them.
For the National League, the game plan on offense has to be more than trying to hit the ball out of the park. David Wright will come in handy seeing as how the exhibition is at his home ballpark. Carlos Beltran is also familiar with the confines, playing two-plus seasons with the Mets after Citi Field opened.
That knowledge and familiarity should come in handy for the NL, who also has young Nationals star Bryce Harper and veteran Joey Votto in the starting lineup. With guys like the league's No. 2 leader in triples in Jean Segura, Buster Posey and Andrew McCutchen on the bench too, the NL has weapons who could work well together.
The American League can rely on the straight-forward approach to get runs while mixing strategy if it chooses. The NL will have to think much more about grabbing steals, doubles and the occasional home run in this game.
As far as the pitcher duels go, the National League has the superior arms to call on. Young Matt Harvey and Madison Bumgarner are two stellar names without even mentioning Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw. All three hurlers could keep the AL batters guessing quite a bit, and the NL bullpen is downright filthy.
Craig Kimbrel, Jason Grilli and Aroldis Chapman are the National League options to finish out this exhibition. The three account for 71 saves for their respective teams this season and none have an ERA over 2.57.
Kimbrel actually boasts the fewest strikeouts of the trio with 46. Grilli and Chapman have 60 and 59, respectively.
The AL has Felix Hernandez, Yu Darvish and Chris Sale to throw on the mound. All great names, but only Mariano Rivera is a real sure thing as far as the team's bullpen goes.
Glen Perkins of the Twins made the All-Star roster, teaming with Joe Nathan for the first time since the latter was shown the door in Minnesota. In his return from injury in 2011, Nathan recorded a 4.84 ERA in his last season with the Twins.
Perkins has recorded 36 saves over the past two seasons for Minnesota after Nathan's departure to Texas. Both have performed well since the split, with Perkins owning a 1.99 ERA and Nathan a 1.43 at the moment.
There's no doubt both Perkins and Nathan deserve the All-Star bid, but Grilli, Chapman and Kimbrel are the better trio than former Twins teammates and Rivera.
The American League could use a break from the recent streak of losses in All-Star Games, but the NL is going to make that difficult. The arms of the National League will test the power of the AL batters.
Regardless of who wins, baseball fans should be in for an exciting game at Citi Field.