Don’t pay attention to the guy who says pitching wins championships.
There’s only one championship to be won on July 16, and that’s the right to host the World Series later in the year. The American and National League will square off at the 2013 MLB All-Star Game to determine which league gets home-field advantage in the Fall Classic. We should be in store for an absolute slugfest.
Which league's starting lineup is better?
The AL has really struggled to score the last few seasons. In the last three exhibitions between the two leagues, the Junior Circuit has only scored twice, and got shut out in 2012. The AL hasn’t scored more than five runs since 2005, when it won by a score of 7-5.
On the contrary, the NL hasn’t had a tough time pushing runs across the plate in recent memory. The Senior Circuit scored eight runs last year and five in 2011. We haven’t really seen a true outburst by both sides in quite some time. The two leagues haven’t combined to score at least 15 runs since 1998.
That could change this year, as each league’s starting lineup is bound to score plenty of runs at Citi Field. Here’s a look at the starters for each team and everything you need to know about those who will be taking the field first for the AL and NL.
American League Starters
|Joe Mauer||Catcher||Minnesota Twins|
|Chris Davis||First Baseman||Baltimore Orioles|
|Robinson Cano||Second Baseman||New York Yankees|
|J.J. Hardy||Shortstop||Baltimore Orioles|
|Miguel Cabrera||Third Baseman||Detroit Tigers|
|Jose Bautista||Outfielder||Toronto Blue Jays|
|Mike Trout||Outfielder||Los Angeles Angels|
|Adam Jones||Outfielder||Baltimore Orioles|
|David Ortiz||Designated Hitter||Boston Red Sox|
The Bash Bros
The AL starting lineup will feature the two best hitters in baseball this season: Chris Davis and Miguel Cabrera. Each is having a historic season that has caught the attention of the entire league.
Through 94 games, Davis is hitting .313/.391/.708 with 36 home runs and 89 RBI. The first baseman played 139 games for the Orioles last season and hit 33 homers. He’s had an insane first half of the year and might have a chance to break some records if he continues to hit this way in the second.
Davis’ 36 homers are the fourth-most before the All-Star break, according to ESPN Stats & Info:
That's 36 HR for Chris Davis, 4th-most of anyone before All-Star Break pic.twitter.com/9lFvmGykMi— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 13, 2013
At this pace, Davis could finish the season with at least 60 home runs, which has only been done eight times ever. AL manager Jim Leyland will likely slot Davis into the No. 3 or No. 4 slot in the league’s lineup on Tuesday night. If he hits third, expect to see Cabrera hitting fourth, and vice versa.
While Davis has had the spotlight on him the entire year, Cabrera is having an even better season than a year ago, when he won the AL Triple Crown. Last season, the Detroit slugger hit .330/.393/.606 with 44 home runs and 139 RBI. Through 92 games this year, he’s hitting .367/.458/.678 with 30 home runs and 95 RBI.
Cabrera is the first player ever to hit 30 homers and have 90 RBI before the All-Star break, according to the official Twitter account of ESPN:
Miguel Cabrera is the 1st player in major league history with 30 HR and 90 RBI before the All-Star break. #NotoriousMIG— ESPN (@espn) July 12, 2013
No matter who starts the game on the mound for the NL, he better watch out when these two hitters step into the box. If the pitcher misses his location by just the slightest bit, Davis and Cabrera will make him pay for it by crushing it into the Citi Field stands.
National League Starters
|Yadier Molina||Catcher||St. Louis Cardinals|
|Joey Votto||First Baseman||Cincinnati Reds|
|Brandon Phillips||Second Baseman||Cincinnati Reds|
|Troy Tulowitzki||Shortstop||Colorado Rockies|
|David Wright||Third Baseman||New York Mets|
|Carlos Beltran||Outfielder||St. Louis Cardinals|
|Carlos Gonzalez||Outfielder||Colorado Rockies|
|Bryce Harper||Outfielder||Washington Nationals|
Wright and Co.
The hometown hero will be featured in the heart of the lineup for the NL, as David Wright is arguably having the best offensive year of anyone in the NL. Through 89 games, the third baseman is hitting .305/.397/.510 with 13 home runs, 44 RBI, 49 runs and 15 stolen bases.
Wright will have some good company hitting around him, including former Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran, who will be one of the starting outfielders on July 16. Some may argue that the Cardinals switch-hitter wasn’t worthy of a spot in the starting lineup, yet he’s still having a great year.
Through 83 games, Beltran is hitting .309/.346/.534 with 19 home runs and 53 RBI. He only has the 10th highest WAR of any outfielder in the NL, per FanGraphs, but that’s mainly attributed to subpar defense.
Aside from Beltran, Wright will look to a pair of Rockies to aid his hopes of winning on his home turf. Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez have both been banged up recently but should be able to start the All-Star Game. The NL’s hopes of coming out victorious rely on them both playing well—even if they only play a few innings.
Tulowitzki is hitting .338/.404/.618 with 16 home runs and 52 RBI through 63 games. CarGo is hitting .301/.364/.611 with 25 home runs and 64 RBI through 90 games. B/R MLB Lead Writer Zach Rymer recently deemed the Rockies sluggers the top duo in baseball.
The NL starters may not be as feared as some in the AL’s lineup, but they’ll still be more than capable of doing a lot of damage. While the AL is more about players hitting home runs, it’ll take a complete effort on behalf of the NL to win the Midsummer Classic. Wright will need big contributions from each of his fellow starters.